Block and Dreeben Program & Philosophy

Our purpose of education at the JCC’s Block and Dreeben School for Young Children is to develop young children’s minds, bodies and emotions, and to produce individuals who are self-directed, lifelong learners by:

  • Fostering Jewish identity through an experiential approach to Judaism;
  • Generating a relaxed Jewish atmosphere which provides openness, spontaneity, creativity, joy and love;
  • Providing an array of stimulating activities to promote aesthetic and cultural awareness, academic readiness, motor development and social skills;
  • Encouraging independence, a feeling of self-confidence, respect for others and a sense of belonging in a group;
  • Offering love and support to each child and each family.

Our daily program provides a supportive, nurturing environment which promotes the emotional, social, physical, cognitive and spiritual development of young children.  The JCC works in partnership with parents to provide loving, responsive, consistent education and care for their children.

PRESCHOOL (Three to five year olds) 
Each classroom serves as a laboratory for a growing child’s experiments in the mastery of new skills.  Our program encourages active exploration of the environment, from the youngest child learning how to crawl across an open floor space to the oldest investigating the physics and chemistry of the world around him.  We promote curiosity, individual interests, creativity, problem-solving, literacy and the development of self-esteem through play, the vehicle by which children learn and develop.

The environment at the school is cozy and welcoming, as well as stimulating and challenging.  Each classroom has its own arrangement of areas and materials, daily schedules and routines, which are designed to suit both individual and group needs.  Problem-solving, experimentation, and social interaction are encouraged through different Learning Centers set up in the classroom.  Within this framework, children have many choices.

INFANT/TODDLER PROGRAM (6 weeks to 2 years)
Our program for infants and toddlers revolves around the basic routines of caregiving:  feeding, diapering and sleep time.  While involved in these nuturing tasks, our caregivers include opportunities for meaningful interactions.  Interactions with other children are closely supervised and we have carefully selected age appropriate play materials to use in a variety of play places.  Our infants and toddlers experience the outdoors daily, weather permitting.

JUDAICA
Practicing Judaism is part of daily life at the JCC.  Our Judaic curriculum is based on exposing children to the warmth, beauty and richness of our Jewish heritage.  Many basic values of Judaism are incorporated into our activities.  The Jewish holidays with all their traditions are an integral and on-going part of our educational program.  Special events and activities include the celebration of Jewish holidays, hands-on Holiday Experiences, resource visitors, field trips, cooking projects, music, songs and books.

LEADERSHIP
The School for Young Children is directed by Alissa Levey Baugh, who earned a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Texas at San Antonio.  She has been involved in early childhood education since 1972, and has been the school’s director since 1989.  Her experiences have included public and private schools as well as teaching at the college level.  Alissa was a validator for the NAEYC Accreditation Program.  She initiated the Cultural Friendship Exchange program through a generous grant from United Way as well as the Start Seeing Diversity Conference. She has presented numerous workshops at the local, state, and national levels.  Alissa received the Director of the Year Award from the San Antonio Association for the Education of Young Children in the spring of 2000.

Our Assistant Director, Cynthia Baker, earned her B.A. degrees in Environmental Studies and Germanic Languages and Literatures from the University of Kansas. She completed post-Baccalaurereate Teacher Certification in Elementary Education from Xavier University of Louisana.  Cynthia has been in the early childhood education field since 1994.  Her previous professional experience in early childhood includes teaching toddlers, preschoolers and afterschool children as well as coordinating a community school readiness project and coaching teachers and other teacher mentors participating in that project.  She has provided professional development for early childhood educators since 2001.

Our faculty consists of college-educated early childhood professionals who regularly attend professional educational workshops and training sessions.  Many hold child development credentials and are members of the national, state and local chapters of the Association for Education of Young Children.  Our faculty includes a music teacher, Judaica specialist and a physical education instructor.



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