Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

New director of the JCC preschool


February 2, 2018

The Roth Family JCC of Greater Orlando proudly announces the hiring of Melissa Youngblood as the next director of the Richard S. Adler Early Childhood Learning Center. Beginning June 1, Youngblood will take over direct oversight of the nationally-accredited preschool and will be accountable for all components of the school including the staff, facility, budget, curriculum, and programming. Her main responsibilities will be maintaining the high quality of education and staffing, increasing the visibility of the school within the community, and increasing preschool family involvement in all aspects of the JCC. Youngblood’s vision is to see the school become a model for early childhood education not only for the Orlando area, but for the country. 

“I would like to see the local universities use our campus as a teaching institution for all future early childhood educators,” says Youngblood. “In order to achieve this goal, I want to fundraise to allow us to build a state-of-the art, cutting edge, research-supported Early Childhood Learning Center.”  

Youngblood is no stranger to the JCC and the role it can play in families’ lives. During her first job teaching kindergarten at a Jewish day school in Nashville (that shared a campus with the local JCC), she got involved in many aspects of Jewish life and the community. She started a tikkun olam school club called Akiva Cares. Through this club she was able to connect with many Jewish agencies, paving the path towards her first JCC job as the director of Early Childhood at the Gordon JCC in Nashville. As the Early Childhood director in Nashville, Youngblood rebranded the program to increase enrollment and also raised funds, which contributed to the purchasing of a new playground and a remodel of the early childhood center. Following her tenure in Nashville, Youngblood became the director of Early Childhood at the JCC in Louisville, and is currently the director of Creative World School, in Estero, Fla., both moves due to relocation of her husband’s employment.  

The JCC ran a national search to identify the best choice to take over running the school. CEO Keith Dvorchik stated “In Melissa Youngblood we have found a bright, energetic and passionate new leader for our preschool. I am so excited by her knowledge, passion and experience, and her new ideas for us. In addition, she will be a parent of two children in the preschool bringing a dual view to the position.” 

JCC Board President Todd Haber raves about Youngblood, stating “Her ideas and passion excite me about the future of our preschool. I can’t wait to see her ideas turned into action.”

Youngblood is most excited about coming back to the JCC, a place she calls home. She is excited to put down some roots, call Orlando home, and for her children to grow up here receiving the values and sense of community, which comes from being part of such a wonderful institution. She considers her three children her biggest accomplishment and is excited that her twin three year-olds will be in the early childhood learning center that she will soon direct. 

Youngblood holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Special Education and a master’s degree in Special Education with an emphasis on emotional and behavior disorders, both from Vanderbilt University. Youngblood is married to her husband, John, and has three children—her son, 7, and twin 3-year-old daughters. Families will get the opportunity to meet Melissa, beginning with current preschool families at registration that began Monday, Jan. 22.


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