The ECC continues to remain open and it was so nice to welcome staff and students back to school. We have many more holidays and celebrations to enjoy as well as many projects, exciting learning opportunities in the months ahead. With a relatively mild January, we are enjoying outdoor play and learning all about winter.
Our outstanding teachers at HBT-ECC deserve to be recognized every day!
INTRODUCING MARLA AND STEPH– KITA BET
It has been a fantastic start to the new team teaching in Kita Bet. This is Marla’s third year teaching at the ECC and Steph’s first year. Marla and Steph have been good friends for years and bring so much positive energy and great ideas to the classroom.
Marla is married with 3 children, two of whom are away at the University of Western Ontario. She has one son living at home in grade 10. Steph is married with two girls one is 14 and one is 11.
Together, their many years of teaching and a love for children radiate onto your children. Even though these are very challenging and different times they will make sure your child has the best experience and has the opportunity to thrive and develop in our pre-nursery class.
“Holy Blossom Early Education Center is a warm and special place. Having sent my two older children through the program, I was excited to start with our third child but apprehensive about how covid-19 regulations would look in this setting. We have been very impressed with the school’s ability to prioritize hygiene and safety while still creating a fun and nurturing learning environment. The school has been using Seesaw to safely communicate and give families windows into the school day. The teachers have gone above and beyond to make nursery school a positive experience. Thank you!”
Holy Blossom Temple Early Childhood Centre Memories
Wonderful colleagues, friends, parents, amazingly bright children and warm smiles–this is what I will miss most. I have been at the Holy Blossom Temple Early Childhood Centre for 24 years. This school became my home away from home. It was my happy space, my safe place. MY PROFESSIONAL ULTIMATE GOALS WERE MANY: to instil in the children how to be mensches through maturity and blossoming with time; treating one another with respect and honour; to focus on “tikkun olam” becoming responsible human beings to help repair and improve the world; to follow the 10 Commandments in the Torah, one of which is giving Tzedakah (charity) which is an act of kindness; to implant in the children a love for learning with enthusiasm; to create and produce a happy, fun, safe classroom and playground environment with lots of laughter; to keep the children engaged so that they ‘want’ to learn and ask questions; to visit the gorgeous Sanctuary and discuss more ‘rules’ in the Torahs housed in the Aron Kodesh (Ark) dressed in their beautiful coats from which we taught Hebrew prayers for Shabbat and Havdallah and learned much Jewishness about each Jewish Holiday.
Lorraine Sandler was my first Principal at the HBECC. She was a very strong believer in “tikkun olam” and consistently ingrained this in her staff.
Next in line, Pam Hamovitch became the Director of the HBECC, who taught her staff to believe in themselves. She was very supportive, always having an open door policy.
Lastly, Wendy Himmel, who was my Director last school year was very flexible, helpful and friendly.
SOME OF MY FAVOURITE MEMORIES
One year, while the teacher’s professional staff photos were about to be taken, my colleagues realized I was not present and finally found me in my classroom still diligently setting up for the next day. They escorted me, arm in arm, to the photographer and we all had a good laugh; our visits to the Temple Succah, taking turns shaking the lulav and etrog, singing and snacking; marching in the Sanctuary with our classroom-made flags on Simchat Torah; Every Purim, for 24 years, I was given the honorary title and role of “the king’s fine pony”, wearing my special pony costume and wig during our carnival and galloping around the Palace, led by Haman, during our staff Shpiel; One Shabbat/Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Israel’s Birthday) celebration which was a school-wide get together, we had all eaten blue/white cupcakes. I told a story along with my co-teacher to the children and staff. My colleagues began to roar with laughter. Why? I was talking with my lips and teeth stained with blue icing. It was all in fun; My staff bestowed upon me the nickname of “visual prop queen”, as my teaching circles were always very detailed with numerous props for my stories and songs; I quite liked this title; For my 70th Birthday, the staff made me a wonderful, memorable home dinner party. I was thrilled that my three amazing daughters were included; every one, in turn, roasted me; it was most entertaining and enjoyable. I have my keepsake “Memory Box” of poems and special messages. That school year was also my choice to retire, which involved another evening of celebration. (June 2017) However, it was short-lived, as Pam asked me to return to teach one year later, which placed me into semi-retirement. I happily spent an additional two years teaching in the HBECC.
My journey at Holy Blossom has really come to another end. They say when one door closes, another opens. I cannot wait to see what comes next year for me! I am not always one for tearful goodbyes, so I will just say: “See you later” (Lehitraot).
Barbara (Barbie) Cohen
Registered Early Childhood Educator
Our outstanding teachers at HBT-ECC deserve to be recognized every day!
This year, it is important to recognize not just the tremendous job our teachers do every day but to acknowledge the way they have taken their duties to a higher level through this COVID-19 pandemic. For the coming weeks, we will be featuring each classroom, highlighting the teachers and the program. The article and pictures will also be featured weekly on the Temple website www.holyblossom.org.
INTRODUCING SUSAN AND MONIQUE – KITA GIMEL
This is Susan’s third year and Monique’s first year teaching at Holy Blossom Temple ECC and from the very start, this is proving to be a strong team! Susan is the mother of two married daughters, has three grandchildren and another on the way, and Monique is Mom to three teenagers! Together they have over 25 years of experience in the field of early childhood education. “Teaching young children is our passion and although this school year is different in many ways, it is our intention to continue to provide a warm, welcoming and nurturing class environment, a home away from home where the children feel safe and happy. We both strongly believe in the power of play and that children learn so much when given the opportunity and time to play freely. Our mornings in Kita Gimel consist of a good balance of both structured and open-ended free play activities geared to enhance all developmental domains. We look forward to participating in your children’s growth and development as they explore, experience and learn new skills throughout the school year.”
Morah Susan and Monique are two wonderful women, who are so warm, caring and helpful with my 2 years old son that has helped him to make an easy transition from being a baby at home into a ‘school-boy’. Thank you for your never-ending hard work and devotion.
Our outstanding teachers at HBT-ECC deserve to be recognized every day!
This year, it is important to recognize not just the tremendous job our teachers do every day but to acknowledge the way they have taken their duties to a higher level through this COVID-19 pandemic. For the coming weeks, we will be featuring each classroom, highlighting the teachers and the program.
INTRODUCING BROOKE AND TERRY – KITA ALEPH
This is the first year that Terry and Brooke are team teaching.
This is Terry’s 2nd year at the ECC and 3rd year for Brooke.
“Although this year is different than last, it is just as much fun. We are enjoying the youngest children in the school. Our hope for this year is that all the children will integrate and thrive, be proud of being in Kita Aleph and will have a wonderful loving pre-nursery experience full of discovery and learning.
October 22nd, 2020 is the 20th annual Child Care Worker & Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day.
This day recognizes the commitment, hard work and education of Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) and all staff who work with young children. Sponsored by Ontario’s labour movement, the day draws attention to the value of ECEs and child care workers in communities.
OUR OUTSTANDING TEACHERS AT HBT-ECC DESERVE TO BE RECOGNIZE ON THIS DAY AND EVERYDAY!
This year, it is important to recognize not just the tremendous job our teachers do every day but to acknowledge the way they have taken their duties to a higher level through this COVID-19 pandemic. Teacher Appreciation Week has taken on a new meaning in a year where the coronavirus pandemic has altered the way school is held and shown how hard it is to be a teacher. Our teachers have stepped up to the challenge. Our enriched program continues using creative approaches in order to ensure the safest environment possible.
20 Reasons Why Early Childhood Educators Are Essential
When it comes to children’s wellbeing, needs, and development, early childhood educators play an essential role in helping sculpt these aspects. Yes, caregivers and parents also help with these elements, but early childhood educators specialize in everything having to do with children, which is what makes them such a vital and essential piece to the puzzle.
ECEs can help guide parents and caregivers in order for children to have a bright future. ECEs have been trained and comprehend children’s feelings and emotions as well as helping to boost their confidence and pinpointing their strengths.
These are just some of the reasons why ECE’s are essential, but let’s take a look at more. Here are 20 reasons why ECEs are essential:
- Expertise in Children’s Development: Early childhood educators are known to specialize in working with children as young as infants up to about the age of six years old. Essentially this is what makes them such pros at assessing, observing and documenting their development. Early childhood educators can detect developmental delays as well as cognitive, social and emotional difficulties in children and help to improve them. They also always try to focus on the child’s strengths and adapt their environment to their needs and likes.
- They Build Positive Relationships: Building a warm and positive relationship with children is so important because children need to feel safe and cared for. Early childhood educators do a great job of proving a positive environment and helping children build positive relationships with each other. They also make sure to provide positive relationships with all children by engaging in their play, asking questions, attaining to their needs and likes, and looking out for their wellbeing.
- Socialization With People Other Than the Child’s Parents: It is important that children socialize with people outside their homes. Children need to become comfortable with individuals other than their parents since parents have to go to work. Daycares and schools are essential for these purposes. At first, it will be hard for some children to transition from home to a childcare setting but with time they will become comfortable with ECEs and other children. It will be beneficial for their growth, learning and socialization. The great thing about ECEs is that they can create a welcoming environment for children to make them feel right at home.
- Teach Children Cooperation: ECEs have become such key educators when it comes to guiding and teaching children in childcare and school settings. What they learn in these settings they can take home with them. A prime example is cooperation. It is important that children cooperate with each other and the best people to teach this are ECEs. This makes ECEs so essential as they set the groundwork for parents. It is important that ECEs model sharing and teach children how to properly play with one another, as well as to use our words if we are upset and not use our hands for hitting.
- ECEs Have a Lot of Patience: When it comes to being an ECE, one thing’s for sure: you have to have patience and be persistent but also caring when working with children. This is one of the key reasons why ECEs are so important. As an ECE, there are times where things can get hectic and frustrating, but it’s crucial to be patient and have patience with children. It shows your compassion and also children pick up on your emotions and cues. If you show your emotions and frustrations, it won’t work in your favour. Skilled ECEs have a lot of patience and take the time to be sympathetic to children’s emotions and feelings.
- They Promote a Strong Sense of Wellbeing: ECEs are so fundamental as they look out for children’s well-being on a consistent basis. Whether it is their mental health or physical health they like to check in with children to make sure their development and needs are on track. For example, ECEs provide a strong sense of wellbeing by promoting outdoor play in order to boost children’s movement.
- Promote Inclusivity and Diversity: One of the many reasons why ECEs are so essential is that they promote an environment that is responsive, inclusive and diverse, embracing differences and welcoming them with open arms.
- Reinforce the Importance of Play: A common misconception that parents might have is that children aren’t learning when they are playing, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Children are constantly learning when they are exploring and playing in their environments and ECEs are keen believers in play-based learning.
- Offer Great Activities: While parents engage in fun activities with children at home, what makes ECEs special is that they provide fun, entertaining, and educational activities that children can take home with them. For example, bringing in sensory/mindfulness bottles are a great way to help children self-regulate their emotions and also to teach children about mindfulness.
- Are Able to Guide and Assist Parents: When it comes to taking care of children, parents can use all the help that they can get and ECEs are always there to help out parents. Parents depend on ECEs for many reasons and when they come to pick up their children it is always a good idea to share what went on during the day, whether it is something good that their child has done or maybe you noticed their child wasn’t eating or had trouble napping. Parents will always appreciate that and they also appreciate any extra resources that you can provide, for example, nutrition tips, events that are occurring that may be good for their child.
- Provide Important Foundational Skills: ECEs really set the groundwork for children’s growth and development. Putting children in childcare helps prepare them for Kindergarten. They learn essential skills that will help get them ready and this will make it easier for parents.
- They Can Help Spot Children’s Strengths: All children carry strengths and it is important to recognize them and also highlight them to children and to their parents. All children are unique, confident and capable, and it is important that we represent that. Sharing children’s successes is a big part of the journey that parents are always excited to hear about. In addition, highlighting and documenting children’s strengths boosts children’s confidence and also heightens their self-concept (when a child becomes aware of the skills they have developed, for example, “I am good at drawing”).
- They are Great at Teaching Self-Regulation: There are times where children are going to be faced with situations whether with other children or themselves and they have to know how to react and handle their emotions along with their behaviours. Managing emotions can be tricky but with practice, self-regulation is an important tool. Children also aren’t the only ones that have to practice self-regulation. As adults, we carry heavy emotions as well so we also have to know how to manage them. Also, since adults also have to manage their emotions, this makes ECEs pros at modelling it to young children hence making them very important figures in the classroom.
- They Focus on Children’s Needs: ECEs make such great educators and are so essential because part of their role as an educator is that they focus on children’s needs. It is important to note that children’s needs can vary from child to child and from age group. For example, infants require their diapers to be changed, they need lots of affection and cuddles, they may need assistance with eating (self-help skills), when they are crying they need to be cared for and they need lots of sleep and milk. Children’s needs are so vital and being responsive to them is what makes ECEs standout and so essential.
- They Can Provide Community Resources for Parents: Having the right resources that can help guide you and your children are so helpful. ECEs are powerful people in this aspect as they can help guide and inform parents of great resources, for example, workshops about children’s safety.
- Boost Children’s Self-Esteem: As already mentioned, identifying children’s strengths is so important. Children’s strengths maintain a relationship with their self-esteem. All children are confident and capable beyond what they believe they can do and achieve. It is important as an ECE to help boost children’s confidence and this is part of what makes ECEs so essential. There are many ways that ECE’s can boost children’s self-esteem. For example, when a child is trying to tie their shoes and they are having trouble, they can push them to try it themselves and if they need more assistance they can be there to help. When a child is able to do something themselves they become proud and by acknowledging that it boosts their confidence. In addition, documenting these milestones is also so important.
- Promote Self-Help Skills: Self-help skills, such as dressing and eating, are taught at a young age and are important for children to develop and learn. ECEs encourage even infants to feed themselves and assist them when needed. Getting dressed is also very important as it prepares them for when they get older. Getting dressed and guiding children on how to get dressed can actually be fun as you can get creative with how to do it and how you teach them to. By encouraging children to do things themselves it makes them more independent, but at the same time, ECEs are always there to be of assistance and guidance.
- Promote Literacy: Literacy is a very important topic when it comes to education and young children, and ECEs will start with educating about literacy with children as small as infants.
- Reinforce Sensory Play for Infants: ECEs are great at reinforcing specific types of play for certain age groups. ECEs know that infants rely on their senses a lot, which is why they reinforce sensory play, for example with sensory boards.
- Promote the Importance of Music: And last but certainly not least is music. Music is a very important aspect when working with children because they love music and songs. Children also learn vocabulary when they hear music and when you are teaching them songs.
Posted by: Vanessa Serrao
October 5, 2020
What other ways are ECEs essential? Let us know in the comments!
The teachers at Holy Blossom ECC are outstanding.
I have my third child in school currently. I love every aspect of the school.
The teachers are warm, nurturing, experienced and extremely lovely.
In fact, the teachers are what makes the ECC what it is! A special environment where children thrive with play-based learning and a truly wonderful education.
I love Holy Blossom’s teachers. They are engaged and connected to the children.
This is our second year at Holy Blossom and we are so impressed with the level of commitment and dedication we have seen from the teachers! Their love and encouragement for our child mean that he runs into school smiling each day and talks about how much he is loving school. It’s been a tough time for our kids but getting them back to some sense of normality is so wonderful and the teachers’ commitment is what really makes this possible. Thank you to Bluma and Sharon for making the start to the school year so wonderful and we look forward to an incredible year!
Oh, and Wendy, thank you for all you do! We are sure that this transition has not been easy. Your hard work as not gone unnoticed. Thank you for everything. The school would not be the same without you.
Gail and Joanne have made the transition back to school seamless. I feel eternally grateful that my son is in their class. They are kind, loving, caring and are teaching him so so much. Each morning when he wakes up he asks when he can go to school I couldn’t ask for more and I feel so lucky.
“Holy Blossom Early Education Center is a warm and special place. Having sent my two older children through the program, I was excited to start with our third child but apprehensive about how covid-19 regulations would look in this setting. We have been very impressed with the school’s ability to prioritize hygiene and safety while still creating a fun and nurturing learning environment. The school has been using SeeSaw to safely communicate and give families windows into the school day. The teachers have gone above and beyond to make nursery school a positive experience. Thank you!” Lindsay Detsky
Sharon and Bluma have created a warm and loving environment that has made the transition to school such a happy one in a very difficult time. They made Eli’s birthday celebration such an incredibly special day! He came home so happy. It’s amazing to see how much he’s grown since starting in their classroom.
I have always had an amazing experience at ECC with my older sons and also now in these trying times there is not a single disappointment. ECC and its wonderful teachers always meet the standard (high) expectations and beyond.
Morah Susan and Monique are two wonderful women, who are so warm, caring and helpful with my 2 years old son that has helped him to make an easy transition from being a baby at home into a ‘school-boy’. Thank you for your never-ending hard work and devotion. Timea
Our son is a first-time student at Holy Blossom this year. He has been absolutely loving his time at school. I want to thank the teachers for making him feel so comfortable and engaged despite the difficult circumstances this year. Keep up the great work! The families appreciate it.
Having sent both my daughters to Holy Blossom nursery, I can honestly attest to the fact that this is one of the most impressive programs in the city. The teachers are incredibly knowledgeable, warm, engaging and experienced. Both of my kids learned and continue to learn so much and the school really does an impeccable job of ensuring that the children are ready for JK. I cannot thank the teachers, administrators and everyone involved – you truly had an impact on my children’s learning and social development. Their love, dedication and commitment never has gone unnoticed. A big thank you to Bluma, Sharon, Brooke, Barbie, Joanne and Gail – we love and appreciate you all! Kol Hakavod – we are so lucky to have you as educators in the city. Orit Sinai
Dear Joanne and Gail,
On ECE Appreciation Day we wanted to say a huge thank you for all your hard work and dedication to Theo and all the kids in Kita Dalet! His transition has been SO smooth and he absolutely loves coming each day- this is a true testament to your caring, loving and patient approach to our kids! You both make it so easy to drop Theo off each day knowing he is safe and so well cared for. It means the world to us as parents!! Thank you, we appreciate you today, and every day!!
Michelle & Jordan
Life continues to blossom at the ECC
I would like to begin by thanking our parents for choosing the Early Childhood Centre at Holy Blossom Temple as their child’s first school experience. We are happy to receive you not only as part of the ECC family but as part of our Temple family as well.
In addition to our enriched curriculum, we also strive to impart a Jewish identity to all the children. Hebrew songs and blessings, learning about Jewish holidays, visits to the Sukkah, hearing the blowing of the Shofar, preparing for Shabbat every Friday, Kabbalat Shabbat on Friday nights with the Temple community all contribute to experiencing Jewishness in a Reformed Jewish context.
Today we were greeted by Rabbi Splansky in the main Sanctuary, who lovingly helped the children discover all the beauty there. We thank Rabbi Splansky for being our partner in education.
Holy Blossom Farewell
Reflection from Brenda Baskind
My family and I arrived in Toronto from South Africa in 1987. I thought that, since we were from an English-speaking Commonwealth country, there wouldn’t be much culture shock. Was I wrong! For example, when Lorraine Sandler, the supervisor of Holy Blossom at the time, offered me a teaching position, I innocently told her I would have to ask my husband. She was shocked and laughed, “I am offering you the job – not your husband!” This was my introduction to life at Holy Blossom. A place that has been an integral part of my life since then.
Not only were there cultural differences, but I was surprised to find that Canadian and South African English had less in common than I’d thought. When I started my job in Kita Bet I was in for many such surprises. My first experience was when a three-year-old girl kept telling me that she “needed to go”. Since there was nowhere to go, I finally asked her “Where do you want to go?” My co-teacher, Debbie explained that she wanted to go to the washroom. I took her to the washroom and waited outside the stall as she “went”. I kept checking in, “Are you done yet? Are you done yet?” An exasperated little voice answered, “did you hear the plop?”. “No”, I replied. “Then I am not done!”.
Lorraine Sandler was my supervisor, mentor and friend. I learnt a lot from her lot about children and parents and how to treat people. She is a kind and generous person, and she understands the meaning of the true Jewish spirit. She was supportive and expected a lot from her staff, but she gave a lot as well. Lorraine stood behind us and supported us, and we felt safe under her guidance. I remember when an irate father, who hadn’t paid his fees was having words with Lorraine. He threatened her by telling her that he is a lawyer. Without missing a beat, Lorraine calmly said, “Your mother must be very proud of you.”
Under Lorraine’s guidance, Holy Blossom had a reputation of being the most sought-after day school in the city. I remember how parents lined up outside at 5 am to get a place for their child to attend our school. It was a first come first served basis in those days and everyone wanted to have their child at this prestigious school.
When Lorraine retired after 18 years of service, she handed over the reins to Pam Hamovitch. Pam is the epitome of a lady – compassionate, organized and softly-spoken. She came to us with a wealth of experience and also have been our colleague as a teacher for many years. Pam is a very different person to Lorraine but equally qualified to lead our team. She carried on Lorraine’s good work with compassion and dignity. The school flourished under her leadership and we were all thrilled to have her as our new supervisor.
Life for me could not have been happier.
Over the years, teachers came and went, but there were (and are) a core of us who were completely dedicated to Holy Blossom. I worked with many different women over my 33 years. Each one an excellent teacher in her own right and from each one I learnt something of value.
Together we celebrated personal Simchas – welcoming new babies and celebrating engagements and weddings. We also comforted each other during sad times – when we lost loved ones, we shared and comforted each other as well. One of our beloved co-teachers and a dear friend of mine, lost her life to cancer while working with us. We planted a tree in her honour at the school as she was such a big part of our lives for so many years.
Having been part of the Holy Blossom community for over 30 years, I’ve seen many kids come and go. Sometimes, I hear about their successes as an adolescent, or adult. Just recently I watched an ex-student (my co-teachers son) get married. Many ex-students, once parents themselves, bring their children back to Holy Blossom so that they can also experience the nurturing attention.
The Holy Blossom family extends beyond teacher, parents and kids. We have had wonderful janitors over the years and I always felt I could ask for anything and they were there for us. They all remain in my memory bank. We also had security guards over the years who took care of us and became part of my life. I enjoyed chatting with office staff when I arrived early in the morning. I also formed a friendship with a lady who worked in the gift store whose great-granddaughter was in my class a few years later.
Of course, my main love was with the children and parents – many of whom became friends.
But then COVID-19 came and, in March 2020, everything closed down and we had no time to say goodbye. No time to give hugs and say thank you. I decided to retire this year – ending a happy and fulfilling period of my life. Since I can’t come in to say my farewells, I thought I’d share some of my memories and life experiences over my 33 years at Holy Blossom.
I want to wish Wendy a successful and wonderful time at Holy Blossom. I only spent a few months with her, and she proved to be a skilled, supportive and experienced supervisor. I know that she will lead Holy Blossom through this difficult time with grace and compassion.
Holy Blossom will always be an important and memorable chapter of my life and one that I will always treasure.
I wish the whole Holy Blossom family a Shana Tova and all the best.
February Highlights from the ECC
Written by: Wendy Steinberg Himmel, Director of the Early Childhood Centre
We celebrated Tu B’Shevat in the ECC on Monday, February 10. Our Tu B’Shevat studies involved planting, recycling, eating fruit and developing a real appreciation and love for our trees and an understanding of what trees give us. Trees were created out of a wide assortment of recycled materials, many stories were shared and of course, a fun birthday celebration in honour of all the trees.
Recycling and environmental awareness at the ECC at Holy Blossom, some of the new initiatives this year:
- Each class has been provided with washable plates, cups and cutlery, helping to reduce waste at snack time.
- Sending more notices electronically, online registration and payment help to reduce paper waste.
- Each class is equipped with a recycle bin.
- A visit to The Living Wall in the Atrium
The Living Wall
(excerpt from the Commemorative Booklet Celebrating the Opening of the New Spaces at Holy Blossom Temple)
The Living Wall brings a living, growing landscape into an interior environment, improving the indoor air quality and making the space feel alive. Aside from the benefits of adding oxygen and filtering the air, the sound of running water imitates a flowing stream, softening the interior environment. The plants selected for this landscape, which congregants helped to grow in their own homes, represent the biblical species of palms, figs, wheat and barley. The Atrium has many other sustainable features, as part of our LEED Silver building, including an energy-efficient envelope or exterior skin and glazed windows, to conserve energy and reduce heat loss; new water-conserving plumbing and fixtures; and high-efficiency mechanical systems. Interior lighting is controlled with sensors, to minimize energy usage. The glass skylight enables full access to natural light. In these ways, we give expression to the congregational value of environmental responsibility and fulfill the mitzvah “to tend and protect” the earth.” (Genesis 2:15)
Tu B’Shevat really lends itself to good thoughts and deeds. We continued to reinforce the importance of Mitzvot by preparing 120 gift bags for the Out Of The Cold guests at the Temple on Thursday, February 13.