mission statement

The Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School at JCC Manhattan is a progressive preschool that embraces families from all backgrounds and cultivates a connection to Jewish values and tradition. Teachers work collaboratively to create environments and experiences that spark wonder and creativity, build confidence and skills, allow children to explore materials, and encourage questioning minds. Families are partners in the work that we do, joining with children and teachers to celebrate Jewish life and learning. We are caretakers of each other, our school community, our city, and our planet.

PHILOSOPHY

The Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School at JCC Manhattan is a joyful and inclusive community of learners devoted to cultivating the creative spirit of young children and families through inquiry and meaningful experiences. Jewish values and the cycle of the Jewish year provide a framework for our journeys in the classroom. 

Children’s voices, passions, artistic visions, and questions are driving forces in our curriculum. We believe that children are competent thinkers, problem solvers, and builders of their own knowledge. Teachers and children together identify paths of wonder and engage in extended collaborative work that fosters individual growth and the ability to learn in large and small groups.

We think of our children as members of ever-widening communities, including their own classroom, the school, the JCC, New York City, and the world. The missions of the nursery school and of JCC Manhattan are inextricably bound, each feeding off of the vitality and energy of the other. We seek opportunities for children’s meaningful participation in JCC experiences. As a nursery school located in New York City, we draw upon the resources of our urban context, including parks, subways, museums, and local landmarks, to build upon children’s awareness of themselves as a member of the city at large.

Our staff views the environment, classrooms and common spaces, materials, bulletin boards, and print materials as powerful tools for learning. Children use their physical world in myriad inventive ways, finding pathways for self-expression at every turn, transforming the everyday into the extraordinary.

Teachers facilitate this process by working collaboratively as researchers, guiding and following the interests of the group. We support each child’s learning, their connections with one another, their achievements, and their points of view by making their work visible through many forms of documentation.

Daily reflections, journey binders, small booklets, visual narrations on the walls, and videos provide windows into the world of the children at school. This documentation helps teachers, parents, and children understand and deepen the learning at school, as we think collaboratively about children’s learning.

We monitor each child’s progress through individual assessments across the school year, ensuring that they reach developmental milestones and master the academic skills necessary for continuing their educational journey. We foster a love of literacy and language, mathematics, science, social studies, and the arts, as well as Jewish life and living.

All learners have a place at the Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School, and we embrace an inclusive model of learning. We believe that every child arrives at school with a variety of interests, strengths, and challenges. Our goal is to support children as they reach their potential within a caring and inspiring learning community.

We embrace families from all backgrounds as we cultivate a connection to Jewish values and tradition. We offer children many experiences that foster empathy with others, and encourage students to make a positive imprint on their world. Mitzvah projects, such as collecting food and clothing for city shelters and visiting nursing homes, are practical experiences that allow our children to be actively involved in tikkun olam, the Jewish concept of repairing the world.

Shabbat and holiday celebrations are occasions to share Jewish stories and rituals, and to pass on a love of Jewish life to the children. Our families gather around important moments on the Jewish and national calendar to assert our feelings of connection, remember our history, and celebrate the beauty of our traditions. Music is a key element in our Jewish curriculum, as we learn songs and melodies that bring us together, and give us a feeling of belonging throughout the year. It is part of the fabric of our life at the JCC, in the air around us, creating the setting for all of our communal celebrations.

The Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School at JCC Manhattan strives to create inspired and cooperative learners, individuals who can work independently and collaboratively to solve problems with fortitude and tenacity. Empathy and respect, intellectual curiosity, and creativity are core values that will stay with our students for a lifetime.