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JCC Chicago Honors Outstanding Early Childhood Educators With Spirit Of Sheva Awards

Eight dedicated educators recognized for their commitment to nurturing young learners and fostering excellence in early childhood education.

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This year’s winners include Amy Burke, David Feinberg, Dorrie Levin, Nechama Perkins, Jennifer Ricciotti, Ellen Salk, Elizabeth (Lisa) Shutan, and Elizabeth Zetley.

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JCC Chicago proudly celebrates the accomplishments of eight exceptional Early Childhood educators through the prestigious Spirit of Sheva awards. These educators have displayed unwavering dedication and outstanding contributions in their roles, demonstrating a commitment to the children and families they serve. They were selected from a pool of nominations within the Early Childhood community, aligning with the seven lenses of Sheva—an approach that places a premium on hiring and supporting exceptional educators.

The distinguished awardees for this year include Amy Burke (JCC Chicago Early Childhood at Beth Emet), David Feinberg (Florence G. Heller JCC), Dorrie Levin (Jacob Duman Early Childhood Center), Nechama Perkins (Bernard Horwich JCC), Jennifer Ricciotti (Bernard Weinger JCC), Ellen Salk (JCC Chicago Early Childhood at Am Shalom), Elizabeth (Lisa) Shutan (Bernard Weinger JCC), and Elizabeth Zetley (‘Z’ Frank Apachi).

JCC Chicago’s commitment to “Growing Good Kids” commences in the early stages of child development, where teachers play a pivotal role in shaping the future of young individuals. They provide a nurturing environment and abundant learning opportunities for children aged six weeks to five years. JCC Chicago stands as the nation’s largest provider of Jewish early childhood education, impacting nearly 700 young children across seven sites throughout the Chicagoland area.

These teacher nominations exemplify the innovative approaches employed by JCC Chicago educators to help children connect with new concepts and make meaningful discoveries about their world. One nominee’s story highlights the exceptional dedication of Jennifer Ricciotti, who engaged her students as “teachers of the week,” allowing them to share presentations, art projects, and more, all while fostering a love of learning.

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In addition to academic growth, JCC Chicago educators and the full-time social services team prioritize social-emotional learning. This focus helps children build resiliency, manage emotions, cultivate empathy, establish healthy relationships, and make responsible decisions. Within this compassionate community, JCC Chicago Early Childhood equips each child with a robust framework for a lifelong love of learning.

Earlier in 2023, JCC Chicago Early Childhood signed a groundbreaking union agreement that significantly raises pay and extends benefits for early childhood educators. This move is both crucial to JCC Chicago’s communities and serves as a model for early childhood centers across the JCC Movement and beyond. The enhanced benefits package includes additional sick days, free mental health services, and six weeks of paid parental leave, now also covering foster childcare.

“At JCC Chicago, investing in our educators is a top priority,” stated Megan Rachal, Chief Human Resources Officer at the J. “Teachers shape and enhance children’s lives every day, and we understand that the best way to invest in students is by first investing in our teachers. In a nation grappling with a teacher shortage, we take pride in our teachers, who, on average, remain at their schools for over seven years, steadfastly dedicated to their students’ success.”

Moreover, JCC Chicago educators have access to continuous professional development opportunities that bolster their expertise. They receive 15 hours of annual training provided internally, free of charge. Collaborating closely with the JUF Early Childhood Collaborative, JCC Chicago extends additional professional development opportunities to empower teachers to assume more responsibilities and become lead educators.

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Recent years have also seen educators traveling to Israel to explore outdoor education. This year, trips to Italy are planned to witness the Reggio Emilia program, where it originated. Teachers return from these enriching experiences to share lessons learned with their staff, children, and families back in Chicago.

Addie Goodman, President & CEO of JCC Chicago, expressed her enthusiasm, stating, “We are thrilled to celebrate eight incredible educators who embody our commitment to growing good kids. JCC Chicago Early Education focuses on meeting each child’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical needs through wrap-around education and social services support, building a strong foundation for lifelong success. I am passionate about and deeply committed to the field of early childhood and deeply appreciative of our stellar teachers and educators.”

JCC Chicago’s recognition of these remarkable educators reinforces its dedication to excellence in early childhood education and its mission to provide a nurturing environment for young learners. These educators’ unwavering commitment and innovative approaches serve as a beacon of inspiration within the field of early childhood education.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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