At every age and stage at the Trust Center, our goal is to include a strong Jewish values and identity component to the curriculum. Of critical importance to our reaching that goal is that the children learn about how to treat themselves and each other, our greater community and the environment. Last spring, when Shari and I were planning for our staff professional development during our orientation week, we took a long, hard look at where we were succeeding and where we could do better and grow. We concluded that an area where we needed to improve, learn and support was for our classrooms and curricula to reflect the diversity of the families who come to the Trust Center. While our framework of Jewish values and traditions is thoughtfully integrated into our curricula, what we wanted to emphasize is that the Jewish values of respect and valuing the individual should be extended to include embracing the diversity within our community.
During orientation, we worked together on ways to become more culturally and linguistically aware and competent. We planned curricula which focused on ways to validate everyone’s home culture in order to give every child a sense of belonging and pride. We purchased new materials, including games, dolls, books, costume and music that can be naturally included in teaching throughout the day.
We know that this competence is not simply taught, it develops over time with practice, reinforcement and maturity and that there is not a curriculum/lesson plan/one size fits all approach. Together, we are dedicated to our roles of continuing learners as we listen to and respond to our children, their families and our community.