There is something special about the nursery school at Congregation Tifereth Israel, say parents of children who attend.
“My first child was 2 when we brought her there,” said Tammy White of Sea Cliff. “We hadn’t even had a babysitter; we had only left her with family up to that point. It was such a nurturing environment. I felt like I was leaving her with family.”
With her second child nearing graduation, White said the nursery school excels at laying the foundation for the next step of early education.
“They are so prepared when they go to kindergarten,” she said.
That’s the idea, according to the school’s director, Beverly Romm.
“Pre-K is now what kindergarten used to be,” she said.
Children entering kindergarten are expected to hit the ground running, Romm said, and the nursery school staff knows how to teach kids things like writing their first and last names and knowing their address without detracting from the youngsters’ enthusiasm for the activities.
Let Patch save you time. Get great local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone everyday with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.
The basics go a long way in helping children develop the tools they need to succeed in their first years of education – and educators recognize it.
“Teachers know CTI students when they get them,” said Romm.
Another change has been the proliferation of nursery schools in the area, all competing for the same population of children, Romm said. The increase has been noticeable only in recent years, she said, and has led to CTI expanding its school’s hours of operation.
Long Island’s oldest conservative Jewish congregation, CTI’s roots stretch back to 1897, when Glen Cove’s Jewish population was large enough to gather for prayer and to celebrate marriages and deaths. The congregation elected its first president, Isaac Bessel, in 1906 and completed its present synagogue in 1928.
The nursery school was licensed in 1977 but had existed for a number of years prior to the state’s licensing requirement. Despite its long religious history, the school is much more than a place for Jewish tradition.
“Diversity is entrenched in Glen Cove,” said rabbi Irwin Huberman. He said that while Jewish traditions are taught at the nursery school, it is for the value of the history and culture rather than religious beliefs.
“There’s not a lot of dogma, but we find the commonalities between religions and different backgrounds,” he said.
Romm said that only one third of the children currently enrolled are Jewish. While history and religious tradition are aspects of a child’s experience there, she said the focus is teaching healthy social development and living in harmony with others as well as preparing them for grade school.
A staff of specialists who have been with the school for years is a vital element of that process, she said. Yoga, a library and a computer center are among the regular activities offered by a group of staff and teachers Romm called “salt of the earth,” and who she said take real pride in the work they do.
The school also strives to take the needs of parents into account, she said. The school hasn’t raised tuition for the past three years despite a dip in enrollment – there are currently just under 20 children enrolled with 11 graduating this month – and Romm said accomodations are made for families who need early drop-offs, late pickups and monthly payments.
Yet it is what children take away from their time at the school, though, which its staff said represents a value that lasts beyond these tough economic times and hectic modern schedules.
“The kids learn that they are part of something bigger,” Huberman said.