Today is February 7, 2016 -
Four Recent Parent Testimonials
1. From the moment we entered HJC we knew this was the school for our children. The teachers provided a foundation for our children far exceeding our expectations. We are forever grateful to the amazing teachers and directors at HJC.
2. When our oldest daughter turned 2, choosing a preschool was easy. Everyone we trusted said “Go to HJC.” After a tour with the school’s director, seeing the facility and meeting the teachers, it was easy to see why. For the next four years, both of our children gained a love of learning in a warm, caring environment. They learned to be social and made lasting friendships! Some of our closest friends are parents we met while our children attended HJC. Anyone looking for a place for their preschooler to grow and learn should explore HJC and see why there’s no better choice!
3. HJC was my second home for almost 10 years- from when my first child started Mommy and Me to when my youngest completed Kindergarten enrichment. What an amazing second home it is! It has simply been one of the greatest blessings in my kids’ childhood and in my journey as a parent of three young girls. There are so many great things that make HJC the wonderfully rich environment it is-from the classrooms full of creative play, song and learning, to the science, cooking and art enrichment extended-day offerings. The staff couldn’t be more loving and more invested in the lives of every child there. They are superb educators who put 110% in all that they do. From lively, creative lessons, to navigating the nuances of socializing with their peers, my children were gently guided to be creative, charitable people while at the same time expertly prepared academically for primary school. The staff have the utmost respect for children and childhood. HJC’s philosophy of “Learn through Play” is simply the best. Along with all of the love and education HJC has given to my my children, I can’t count how many times over the years the staff made themselves available to me for a bit of parenting advice, perspective or just a hug. I honestly could not imagine a better, more special place for my children to have spent their early childhood. An absolute gem of a school!
4. (Presentation by a parent at the 2014 graduation) Eight years ago, shortly after my family and I had moved to Huntington, my husband and I were looking for a pre-school for our daughter, who was three years old at the time. I asked an old family friend from the area if she had any recommendations. “HJC,” she immediately replied. “The Huntington Jewish Center on Park Avenue.” “Great,” I remember saying “Are there any other places I should look into as well?” “Nope” she replied definitively “HJC is the only place you will need to look at it. You will love it there. You’ll see what I mean.”
She went on to tell me that she was actually a little sad that her kids had already graduated from the school, and that she sometimes joked about having another child just just so she could be a part of the pre-school at HJC once again. I was immediately impressed by how amazing she made the school sound, if a little confused by her desire to stay part of a pre-school community. I didn’t understand at the time what could make a school so special. But as soon as I walked in the doors of HJC, I was, as she predicted, immediately sold. After seeing the classrooms and meeting the staff, I knew right away that this was the place where I wanted to send my daughter. I went on, as so many of us do, to send all of my children here; each one of them grew, flourished and changed in ways I could never have imagined when we first started here. And now, all these years later, I find myself in the same place my friend was – looking longingly at parents who still have pre-school aged children, envious that they have can still send them to this school.
HJC became one of the focal points of my family’s life, its beating heart, a place where so many of our stories and memories occurred. Whenever we drive past the building, one of us always seems to yell out “HJC!” Sometimes this declaration is followed by a shared memory, but more often than not, it is just that – a simple declaration. Because that is all that needs to be said; the rest of us get it. There it is. Now and forever, a part of each one of us, ever present in our hearts and minds, never changing.
When most of us begin our journey here, we are newly minted parents, flush in the glow, charm, and misery of new parenthood. These little beings that somehow, impossibly, are our very own children, have upended our lives completely. For many of us, life has become a blur of joy, worry, and fear like we had never before experienced. A lot of us feel that we have no idea what we are doing, which is compounded by the fact that everyone else seems to know what they are doing, and we worry that we will be exposed for being the parental frauds that we fear ourselves to be. On top of that, we are sleep deprived, haven’t had a decent meal in quite some time, and many of us are still hormonal. And then, we get to bring our children to HJC, a place where we know we will be embraced, where we know that one of the teachers will likely tell us that everything will be ok, that our kids are doing great, and we should go home and rest for a little while. And we leave knowing that our kids are in excellent hands, that they will learn something new that day (without realizing that they are learning) and that we get to pick them up at the end of the day, both of us having had just enough breathing space to make us happy to see one another again.
I once heard someone say that the number one thing people crave most in life is not money, fame, or wealth. It is acknowledgement. To be acknowledged is to be heard, to be understood and known – children have the same needs. They are not mini adults, they are children—something entirely different—but they are still people; people with souls and feelings and needs and the desire to be understood and listened to.
Words can’t adequately express my gratitude to all of the teachers at HJC for acknowledging and respecting our children in such loving ways. There were countless times when I witnessed the teachers respecting and listening to our children with such sincerity and warmth that I felt almost inadequate by comparison. But then I remembered that the only way out is through, and that if I was ever going to be able to emulate them in any sort of way, that I would learn by watching them. I am eternally grateful to the staff at HJC for leading by example.
Over the years, I heard some of the teachers express that it can be a little hard for them when the kids who were once in their class move up to the higher grades. Although they are happy to see the children grow and thrive in their new classrooms, it can be a little sad when they barely acknowledge their old teachers in the hallway anymore. And that even though they understood, developmentally, why and how this occured, it could still be little difficult. But what we want them to know is that they are not forgotten. The kids may have indeed moved on, as they need to, and formed new attachments, but their influence is still very much alive in them. Everything they ever did resides somewhere in the deepest parts of their tiny souls; they flourished under their care and guidance and they were some of the first people that they grew to love. As the late, great Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This could not be more true for each and every one of the wonderful teachers in this school. Every hug, kiss, and encouraging word they ever gave our kids has gone into making them who they are today, and who they are becoming. The staff was, and always will be, a part of who they are.
In the years to come, I can only hope that when my family and I drive by HJC we will continue our tradition of calling out its name. I hope that there will never be a time where we forget to do this, or become too pre-occupied with whatever else may be going on in our heads at that time to remember. I am determined to not let that happen though. I am determined to keep HJC an active part of our lives and memories. I sense that our little tradition will indeed be easy to uphold. That we will continue to be grateful and reflective about everything this school came to mean to us. I also know that if we continue to call out to it, it will always answer us back.