The Mayor is a fan of Reggio!

Last week, I was fortunate to be in attendance at the gala opening of the Wonder of Learning exhibit, the interactive traveling exhibit designed to help parents, teachers, and all learn about what a Reggio-inspired approach to schools and learning is based on.  There was a palpable excitement among the hundreds of educators and leaders who care deeply about education in attendance.  We heard the Brooklyn borough president speak about the need for communities to come together, and the DOE’s CEO of Early Childhood discuss the importance of high quality care for our young children. 

The highlight of the evening was when Mayor de Blasio took the podium and spoke at length about the impact that Reggio Emilio has had on early childhood education in NYC and throughout the world.  To hear the Mayor speak so highly of the educational approach that our school has adopted was nothing short of inspirational.  The Mayor told the crowd that, “I have such respect for people who do this work. I think it is sacred.” I couldn’t agree more. Each and every morning, our teachers arrive in the classroom ready to give their all to their students and prepare the optimal physical, social, and emotional environment for their growth and maturation.  I am proud to work in a school where our parents share that level of respect for the work of the teacher, and to know that respect and elevation of the profession of teaching is a distinctive trait of the schools of Reggio Emilio.

De Blasio continued, speaking to those in the room who have already adopted a Reggio-inspired approach in their classrooms and schools: “You’ve cracked the code and are waiting for the rest of society to catch up to you.” What a powerful statement! It was re-affirming to hear a Mayor who has made early education a priority of his office look at Reggio as a model to emulate. 

Our school and our teachers have spent the last several years deeply immersed in building classrooms and communities inspired by the principles of Reggio Emilio.  Many of these principles show up in your Daily Reflections, Journey Binders, parent nights, parent-teacher conferences, and throughout the bulletin boards in our school.  I invite and urge you to take part in the Wonder of Learning exhibit and surrounding events put together in association with the exhibit.

On Thursday, February 5th, our entire teaching staff will head to Steven Wise Free Synagogue on 68th street for a panel talk delivered by a handful of early childhood professors about how Reggio inspired classrooms fit into the landscape of American education. You are invited to join us; the lecture is free and open to the public (make sure to register via the website).  A fantastic opportunity to bring your children to is the Materials Day on April 18th. The curators of the exhibit will be taking over the streets surrounding the exhibit and have prepared an elaborate fair of sorts, in which children and adults of all ages can experience the exploration of materials in a Reggio-inspired environment.  This event is free as well and does not require registration. 

Most importantly, please go visit the Wonder of Learning exhibit!  Before going, you can check out this (brief) parent article about the exhibit (thank you Wendy for sending it over!)  It is a child-friendly exhibit with interactive elements that in many ways resemble what you see in your JCC classrooms – rich, provocative materials designed to stimulate children’s thinking and growth. Along the way, the panels will provide an excellent narrative from which to glean a deeper personal understanding of why our school is so closely connected to the ideals of the Reggio approach. The exhibit is free and open to the public 12p-6p every Saturday and Sunday through May 15th.  Also, check your PANI and Class Parent emails for how to help give back by volunteering at the exhibit.  Our entire teaching staff will be visiting during our professional development day on March 23rd, followed two days later with a trip by members of the JCC board and nursery school PA leadership.

As Mayor de Blasio closed his remarks with, “We have to educate parents. Social cohesion and open possibility. That’s what Reggio taught us.” Come learn with us, come learn together, about why we are a Reggio school and the opportunities it presents our children and ourselves.  After visiting the exhibit, continue the conversation with your teachers! Ask questions, share thoughts.  When we learn together our community grows stronger. See you in Brooklyn!

Shabbat shalom,