A full-time director is responsible for program coordination, administration, and supervision of the staff. Seven professional teachers share curriculum planning, daily teaching responsibility, and parent communication. Teachers work in teams that collaborate with one another. All teaching staff have completed course work in early childhood education (most with B.A. or M.A. degrees) and a minimum of two years' experience working with young children (an average of five years experience teaching young children). Hampshire College work-study students assist teachers in the classrooms, as do volunteers from the community and student teachers from the University of Massachusetts.
Affiliated consultants: Nancy Arons, psychotherapist; and David Slack, pediatrician.
The center works closely with REACH, an early intervention agency for parents and their children ages birth through three years who have developmental and physical special needs.
Says one parent, "In addition to being exceptionally qualified practitioners in their field, the Early Learning Center staff members are so loving, kind and welcoming. I feel like I'm bringing my kids to stay with family when I bring them here. It's a good feeling."
Ronit Ben-Shir, director
Director, January 2019-present
Ronit is an early childhood educator who grew up in Israel. Her path as an educator began during her army service, when she was a youth chapter leader in the city of Kiryat Motzkin. Ronit received her B.A. in early childhood education from Oranim, Academic College of Education. She moved to the U.S.A. in 1991 and has been an early childhood educator in the Boston area ever since. In 2002, Ronit opened and served as founding director of the JCC Early Learning Center in Acton, establishing a school of four classrooms that still thrives today under the synagogue’s management. After nine years in Acton she became the director of the Early Learning Center at the JCC of Greater Boston in Newton, growing the school from 10 to 15 classrooms. She believes that to be an excellent educatoris to practice recent research in the field, while deepening the practice of our values.
“What I live by as an educator is making an impact in the journeys of families with young children. My mission is to build relationships, experiences, and intentional environments with fellow educators. Together, we support young children and families by acting as guides and mentors, asking questions about values, intents, and practices.
Ronit has been inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach education, which values the child as strong and capable, rich with wonder and knowledge. Over the last 17 years, she has learned and explored how to bring this approach to early childhood programs. In 2016, Ronit completed her master’s degree in education from Hebrew College, Newton, MA.
After 19 years working at the JCC, Ronit started an independent practice as a consultant, and a faculty member at the Bunker Hill Community College. Ronit started the interim director position at the Hampshire College Early Learning Center at January 2019.
Maire Frances Psomas-Jacklowski, office assistant