A glimpse at nursery school


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Freezing rain and messy roads on Jan. 10 didn’t stop the teachers and students from coming in for a day of learning and fun at Temple Beth Ami Nursery School. At 7:30 a.m., only a few children, who come for the optional early arrival, could be heard in Jody Rosenblum’s classroom, but two hours later, the halls were the center of hustle and bustle, as parents led their children through the double doors, decorated with Matisse-inspired artwork students made, to their classrooms.

For 25 years, the school, a part of the Rockville synagogue located off Travilah Road in Rockville, has been serving children ages 2 to 4, with teachers providing lessons focused on art, music, literature, brain games, Hebrew, outdoor play and everything in between.

One hundred twenty children are currently enrolled in the nine classes Beth Ami offers, which are split into groups of three classes by age: bet classes (2-year-olds), gimel classes (3-year-olds) and dalet classes (4-year-olds). Depending on age, class time lasts three to five hours, with opportunities for after-school activities.


Each class is led by two enthusiastic teachers, many of whom had children of their own attend classes when the school first opened in 1989. They include gimel teacher Jody Rosenblum, dalet teacher Karen Asman and former teacher Ellen Bortz, who’s been on staff since 1993 and now serves as special projects coordinator.

“We have a very tight-knit staff,” Bortz says, who noted that many of the teachers have been paired and working at the school together for many years. “We’re passionate and we want to be here.”

Paula Sayag, the director of early childhood education of Temple Beth Ami, joined the staff in 2009. Sayag has many years of experience working in the fields of human development, family studies and education. In terms of goals for the students, she says, the staff addresses many life skills, but the main goal for students depends on their age. For 2-year-olds, the primary goal is language development and vocabulary building, for 3-year-olds it’s social skills and for 4-year-olds it’s critical thinking, she says. Sayag also noted that the school does its best to help children with special needs.

So what do the teachers do in order to get their students on the right track? “There’s a purpose behind everything,” Sayag says.

Take a look at some of the highlights from the day spent at the school, which was extra special as it happened to be Shabbat.

Photos by Ellen Bortz

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  1. WONDERFUL ARTICLE! Thanks, WJW for showing an understanding of early childhood learning and its importance by writing so well and giving space to this informative piece.


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