True growth and positive change are only achieved through self-reflection. As the formative experience for Bernard Zell students and their families, the Early Childhood division felt that it was essential to participate in last spring’s inaugural Jewish Early Childhood Collaborative Parent Survey—a group effort of data collection not just within our own community but across Chicagoland. I’m personally grateful for the willingness of last year’s Early Childhood families to participate and share their candid feedback regarding our strengths and areas of opportunity. Initial results, as well as those of peer schools, have now been compiled, allowing us to begin the process of comparison and self-reflection, planning and growth. Some high-level findings can be found below:
- In almost all focus areas, Bernard Zell's Early Childhood program greatly surpassed the average score of the collective of participating schools. This was especially true in how teachers hear and respond to questions and concerns, how they ask about things that are important to individual families, and broadly, there is a feeling that students are being appropriately prepared for their next steps.
- We have heard concerns about the school calendar and how holidays can present childcare and scheduling challenges for families.
- Opportunities to explain our educational philosophy and its role in supporting social-emotional learning and intellectual-academic learning could be offered more frequently and with greater depth.
- Early Childhood student and family experiences have enhanced, and in many cases grown, families' Jewish engagement outside of school.
Having heard these and other important pieces of feedback, we’re now formulating a plan that helps us to capitalize on this information so we can improve and better serve our community. Our new facility and our full-time auxiliary program manager will be foundational as we formulate new programming opportunities during times when formal classes are not in session. We also intend to provide increased transparency and opportunities to learn about faculty professional development and how continuing education supports the school’s educational philosophy. I look forward to sharing more with you throughout the school year and welcome your questions as the entire Early Childhood team works to ensure the best possible education and environment for you and your child.