A community of communities

Early Childhood Program

I have nothing but the highest praise for the Early Childhood Program at the GJC!  My daughter started there at 13 months old and was immediately met with loving arms and thoughtful care.  From my initial meeting with the director, to every teacher we encountered there, I was impressed with their flexible, child-centered approach.  My daughter LOVED going there and would clap her hands in excited anticipation every time we pulled up.  I watched her grow at her own pace throughout the year and was so impressed with her teachers' abilities to both help her to communicate in new ways and explore the world around her, while at the same time meeting her where she was at.  A wonderful experience for our entire family!

- Ally, Parent


ECP Yoga 3The Early Childhood Program of Germantown Jewish Centre provides high-quality Jewish education and child care, enriching both the families served and the congregation. The original Nursery School was expanded in 1980 to a full-day program which emphasizes learning through doing in an environment where individuality is nurtured and respected. At the same time, the program develops a sense of community and friendship. Our talented, dedicated, professional staff provides age-appropriate activities that stimulate the development of the whole child.

We encourage children at varying developmental stages to interact and learn from one another. Our staff, school and families are mutually supportive and strive to maintain a caring community and a stable "home" for our children.

Learning and experiencing Jewish culture and tradition are central to our program. Holidays are celebrated through classroom activities, family programs, and synagogue events. Children learn Jewish values through discussion, song, story, drama, and puppetry. We are proud to be located in the midst of the beautiful and diverse Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia. We are committed to teaching and promoting respect and understanding of all persons.

The Early Childhood Program of Germantown Jewish Centre is a nonprofit center licensed by the Department of Public Welfare of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We are open to all; however, priority for admission is given to synagogue member families.


The Germantown Jewish Centre Early Childhood Program is a special place for young children from 6 months of age through 5 years of age and for their families. Through the lens of Jewish culture and tradition, our children learn about themselves, and the world around them. 

The Early Childhood Program is a Jewish Preschool that offers Half-Day and Full Day Programs as well as Early and Late Day Care. We are open to all, with priority  admission given to synagogue member families.  Our dedicated and talented staff are committed professionals. The preschool environment, created by our outstanding staff, is warm, nurturing and creative. The staff takes interest in all of the children and a family atmosphere is created throughout the school. We believe that every moment is a teachable moment and we are committed to instilling this belief in our children.

ECP ShabbatThe preschool follows the yearly cycle of the Jewish holidays. Each week is highlighted by the Friday Shabbat celebration.  Jewish culture, traditions and values are woven into our curriculum. Through Mitzvot (commandments), Tzedakah (charity) and Tikun Olam (repairing the world), the children learn to respect themselves, others and the world they live in.  

Germantown Jewish Centre Early Childhood Program is dedicated to encouraging children to:
• Develop self-esteem; know that they are loved and that they have a special place in the world.
• Respect all people and value their differences
• Have a strong identification with Judaism and the Jewish people
• Develop cognitive, social-emotional, language, and physical skills

We encourage families to become:
• Partners with the school in the education of their children
• Participate in our school community

• Our program stresses "learning through doing" using a multisensory approach and emphasizes the importance of play. We understand that children's work is play. The teachers utilize many learning styles to engage the children and allow for individual differences. Through this approach the staff assists in the development of cognitive, social-emotional, language, and physical skills.

The curriculum consists of the children learning:
• Shape Recognition
• Numbers
• Letter Recognition
• Color Differentiation
• Spatial Concepts
• Motor Skill Development
• Conflict Resolution
• Science Units-Dinosaurs, Space, Ocean, Animals
• Weekly Hebrew
• Weekly Music/Yoga Classes

Program Overview

ECP in MarcusInfant-Toddler Program

We offer weekday morning-only and full-day options in the Infant-Toddler Program to accommodate your family's needs, and we maintain staff-to-child ratios of 1:4 throughout the day.

The Infant-Toddler classes are unique in that six-month-old through three-year-old children are integrated into "family groupings" rather than being divided by age levels. This organization enriches the experience of both staff and students and provides many opportunities for children at different developmental stages to learn from and enjoy each other. It is as important for older toddlers to have opportunities to be nurturing "big kids" as it is for the youngest children to be stimulated by the example of their elder peers.

Preschool Program 

The Preschool Program provides morning-only and full-day options for children from ages 32 months to pre-kindergarten. Each class has a teaching team made up of a head teacher and one or two assistants, depending on the size of the group. Staff-to-child ratio is 1:6.

Classrooms are set up with activity centers where children are encouraged and helped to choose from activities such as blocks, painting, puzzles, and other small manipulatives, books, art projects, dress-up imaginative play, and work on special classroom themes. Circle time provides opportunities for the whole group to meet together to sing, talk, read a story, or participate in a special group activity.  

Each Early Childhood Program class meets with the music teacher for a half hour every other week for special singing and games, and with our Hebrew language specialist every week. Each class celebrates Shabbat on Friday mornings in an age-appropriate way, including songs and rituals. The Rabbi of Germantown Jewish Centre meets with the children to help celebrate Shabbat and holidays. He can often be seen in the classrooms joining in a holiday celebration with the children or sharing a story with them.

Our ECP Teachers



Hannah Allen

Hannah has been with the ECP since January of 2015. She earned her BA in Film Studies from the
University of Pittsburgh and her MA in Art Education from the University of the Arts. In her spare time, Hannah loves to cook and create art.




Anna Goldberg

Anna has a BA in psychology, and got her certification for teaching preschool in 1995 while working at a Jewish
Community Center preschool in Brookline, MA. She specializes in toddler classrooms, basing her curriculum on enriching the five senses. Anna has taught instrumental music at the elementary school level, and also brings an appreciation for the visual arts to her teaching. She enjoys making every day creative, beautiful, and fun. 





Lois Robbins

Lois received her bachelor's degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and a master's in Special Education. She taught children with visual  impairments for 32 years with the School District of Philadelphia. More recently, after receiving a master's in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania and a certificate in Jewish communal services from Gratz, she was the Social Worker for the Pediatric Stroke Program at CHOP. In 2014, she received her Doctorate in Clinical Social Work from Penn. Lois has worked at ECP on and off for the past 20 years. She is thrilled to be the teacher for the Bonim class.


Our ECP Assistant Teachers


Alberta Brown has been working in the Early Childhood Program for over 15 years. She appreciates the warmth and spirit of Germantown Jewish Centre.

Ariel Cohen has been a creative member of ECP since 2013. She enjoys bringing laughter and art to her everyday activities. In her free time, Ariel paints and takes walks in the Wissahickon with her two chihuahuas. 

Felicia Croswell

Linda Colbert has been working as an assistant teacher in our infant/toddler classrooms since 2002. She has lived in Philadelphia all of her life and loves working with children and their families.

Tina Easley is an assistant teacher in our Pre-K classroom and also supervises Childcare on Shabbat and Holidays. She joined our staff in 1998 and has always enjoyed working with children. Tina has an adult daughter and in her free time likes to exercise, read, and spend time with her family. 

Valerie King

Shirley Williams is an assistant teacher in our infant classroom. She joined our staff in 2003 after working in the public school system. Shirley has lived in Philadelphia all her life and enjoys reading, music, and travel. 

For the 2017-18 Calendar click here 

For the Curriculum Progression click here 

Parent Involvement

Active parent participation is critical to the success of the program and is an important part of what makes the Early Childhood Program special. There are lots of ways to get involved, and we are always open to hearing your thoughts and ideas about how you would like to participate. If in your schedule there is time to share yourself and your interests, please arrange to do so with the teachers. If you sing, dance, paint, tell stories, or just enjoy being with the kids…WELCOME!  You will value the opportunity to get to know other parents and to contribute to your child's "home away from home," and your children will appreciate your participation. There are a number of ways you can get involved:

Playground 1 SmallerThe Early Childhood Parent Committee

The Early Childhood Program Parent Committee functions as a parent-teacher association. The Committee's chairpersons work in close collaboration with the ECP Director. Parent Committee meetings are scheduled and publicized well in advance, and all are welcome to attend. The Committee coordinates many activities and is always looking for more volunteers. The Committee is also interested in how the program and other parents can support you and your family. Committee members contact new families to welcome them to the ECP, assist with the orientation and educational activities for parents, and help organize holiday and other potluck family meals. The goal is to have all parents involved in the program in some way. Be assured that your talents will be put to good use! Can you coordinate a fundraising event or holiday celebration? Be a class parent? Host a potluck meal? Help spruce up the classrooms? Repair equipment? Other ideas?

The ECP Committee chairpersons have a mailbox in the ECP office. The Committee is eager to take full advantage of your skills and interests, so please let the chairpersons know how you would like to contribute and what ideas you have for enhancing the program.  Watch for notices of upcoming meetings, and join in!

Work Parties

It is a custom for parents to help repair toys, books, and classroom furniture and furnishings. We hold fix-up days several times a year, usually on Sundays. Information on dates and projects will be left in your child's cubby. We count on your participation on those days to help make your child's school home a pleasant place to be.  If you have particular skills or talents, please let the Director know as soon as you can.

Early Childhood Program Fund

Individuals may make donations to this special synagogue fund, which is used to purchase books, supplies, and equipment not allotted in the budget. Special donations may be made to the Early Childhood Program Fund at any time by giving a check to the synagogue office with a notice of the donors, the reason for the donation, and the address to which an acknowledgment should be sent. A note from the synagogue will acknowledge your contribution. Cards can be sent to family, friends, or colleagues in honor of a person or an event or for any reason you choose.

Food Policies

Your child should have a clearly labeled lunch box and unbreakable thermos, cup, or bottle. Please send utensils and bibs if needed. They will be sent home daily. Your child's name should be written on all food containers, including tops. We will supply a plastic spoon or fork only in an emergency. Help us save the environment by providing utensils for your children.

Water is provided for the morning snack. Extra bottles or covered cups may be left in the Infant-Toddler classrooms for this purpose. If you want your child to have a drink at lunchtime, please send it.

Food will be refrigerated. We do not heat any food. If you want your child to have warm food, send it in an insulated container marked WARM and leave it with the teacher.

The ECP keeps a kosher home. Only dairy or pareve foods may be served.  This means that only non-meat, kosher foods are allowed. No meat, poultry, or shellfish should be sent to school. Packaged foods should be labeled with a Kosher symbol and must contain no animal fat. The ECP is also a nut-free program. If you have questions about what is or is not allowed, please speak to the Director or your child's teacher.

If your child stays in the afternoon, include enough food and variety in the lunch to provide an afternoon snack for your child. Please send food that is ready to eat and does not need further cutting, peeling, coring, etc. Please advise us of any specific foods your child may not have. Finally, if you are stumped about what to send for lunch, you should feel free to ask the staff and other parents; there is a wealth of creative food ideas in our group.

Here is a brief list of ideas:

  • noodle kugel
  • egg or tuna salad with crackers
  • kasha with bowties
  • fried egg sandwich
  • vegetable noodle soup
  • yogurt
  • vegetarian chili
  • noodles with cottage cheese
  • celery and carrot sticks with hummus
  • cold vegetable lasagna
  • tuna casserole
  • mini pitas with cream cheese or hummus
  • vegetables with dip
  • cold cheese pizza
  • hard boiled eggs
  • cheese slices, sticks, or cubes
  • vegetarian meat substitute slices with cheese or on sandwiches

We welcome the celebration of our children's birthdays, but BIRTHDAY PARTY TREATS MUST BE KOSHER! Entenmann's or Tastykakes are easy, much-loved treats.

Emergency Procedures

At the beginning of each school year, you will need to provide us with the names of people who can be contacted in the event of an emergency. Of course we will try to reach you first, but if we cannot it is essential that those people be able to get to the Centre and care for your child until you arrive. Please be especially sure to notify the Director immediately of the following:

  • Change of emergency persons
  • Change of phone number or address of emergency persons
  • Change in your daytime phone number

If severe weather conditions force the program to close, listen to radio station KYW (1060 AM) for our school closing number, 3277, or watch KYW Channel 3 or FOX News.

In the event of other emergency closings, parents or emergency contact persons will be notified by phone.  ECP uses the One Call NowTM phone message service to deliver emergency notifications through automated phone calls to parents.  This notification service delivers phone messages within minutes, allowing us to:

  • Notify parents of school closures or delays
  • Notify parents in event of emergencies