HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY
Temple Beth Elohim Nursery School's first class of 12 students began in 1972. The school quickly grew both in size and reputation for providing a quality nursery school experience. The Nursery School was formally established as a Standing Committee of the Temple in 1983 in recognition of the valuable service the program provided. In 1985 the program expanded to include a second classroom, broadening its curriculum and enhancing the Nursery School's ability to meet the needs of the individual children. In 1998 the program began the first of a 2 part expansion to double the size of the school. The Nursery School now has two toddler classes, two three-year-old classrooms, and two four-year-old classrooms.
There is a Midrash (story) called “Gan Elohim”-God’s Garden. It is a story about a little girl who brings purple, crimson, and blue flowers each day to the site where the Israelites are building the Mishkan (tabernacle to carry the Ark) in the desert. One day, she is spotted and told she must stop bringing the flowers. She refuses and insists on speaking with the High Priest. She tells him that she brings the flowers because she “wants to bring God’s garden here into God’s house.” The High Priest is wise and understands what the little girl is saying. He tells her that she may continue bringing the flowers every day. This Midrash is based on a passage from Exodus in the Torah where it says that “everyone whose heart so moves him shall bring them-gifts for God… blue, purple, and crimson.” (Exodus 35:5-6) The little girl’s action reminds the High Priest about the true meaning behind this passage, that everyone, no matter how big or small has something to offer. Each of us brings our own special gifts to our community.
This story embodied the philosophy of the Temple Beth Elohim Nursery school so much that the staff and parent committee at the school recommended we change our name from the Temple Beth Elohim Nursery School to Gan Elohim. Gan Elohim is Temple Beth Elohim’s garden, a loving inclusive environment in which children and their families may learn and grow. Children learn about a variety of topics through stories, music, hands on projects and especially through play. Our professional staff provides a nurturing and enriching environment for independent inquiry and discovery. Each classroom is set up to encourage children’s explorations and to support their immersion into the learning process. Teachers facilitate this process through the wide range of materials they provide and by listening to the children and including their ideas into the curriculum. Positive self esteem and confidence, critical building blocks of development, are fostered as children are valued and made to feel secure as they grow both emotionally and academically. Parents and families are a key component of the program by assisting in the classrooms, attending family Education and school functions, serving on committees and sharing their children with our staff over the years. Each of us, staff, families, and children bring their special gifts to create our wonderful garden-Gan Elohim.
It is the mission of Gan Elohim, the Temple Beth Elohim Nursery School to provide a nurturing and supportive environment in which young children have an active role in exploring, discovering, and learning the skills that foster their social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development. It is our hope that children will gain a positive self esteem and the confidence to make a difference in our school, community and world. Emphasis is placed on role modeling for children the meaning of sharing and caring and encouraging them to be compassionate members of the community.
As a Temple preschool, teaching about Judaism and fostering the development of a positive Jewish identity is the core of our program. We are committed to providing an integrated curriculum, which teaches the children about Jewish traditions, including the celebration of Jewish holidays and Shabbat as well as developing an understanding of the importance of Jewish values such as Mitzvot and Tikkun Olam. Family participation is encouraged by inviting parents and families to be involved in the Nursery School experience.