The Soloway Jewish Community Centre (SJCC) Ganon Preschool and the Ottawa Jewish Community School (OJCS) are teaming up to offer a joint junior kindergarten (JK) program that will eventually move from its present location at the SJCC to its new home at the OJCS.
The Ganon Preschool currently offers a JK program for four-year-olds and has been a feeder school for OJCS which currently begins at senior kindergarten. The partnership will begin this coming September and will be in effect for three years. In September 2021, the JK will relocate and be exclusively operated by OJCS.
While the details of the gradual transition are still being discussed, the SJCC Ganon Preschool and OJCS will work together on a plan phasing in the OJCS curriculum incrementally over the three years so that by the final year of the partnership, the JK will have a fully integrated OJCS curriculum.
Jon Mitzmacher, head of school at OJCS says this as a win/win situation as it will strengthen both organizations which in the long term will serve the community as a whole.
“In the big picture this is an opportunity to model what community partnership and collaboration looks like,” said Mitzmacher. “The SJCC is making a sacrifice for the greater good of the community by being willing to transfer this program to OJCS and the stronger our school is, the stronger our community. It’s a positive model of how Jewish organizations can work together towards the greater good of the community.”
OJCS has been at a disadvantage when it comes to recruiting new families over the years because, unlike other schools in Ontario, it does not begin with JK.
This move is part of a continuing strategy by OJCS to both improve and build upon existing strengths, to ensure that our community day school provides the offering needed by families in our community.
“Our school is at the heart of our community” said Michael Polowin, president of OJCS. “Improving and making its program more enticing to the Jewish community is part of building the Jewish superhighway.”
What does this mean for the SJCC Ganon Preschool which has been running a highly successful JK for several years, even after the introduction of full-day JK at public schools?
During the three year transition period, the SJCC Ganon Preschool will be working with the Ontario Ministry of Education to change its licensing so that it will be able to welcome children as young as 12 months.
According to SJCC President and COO Barry Sohn, Ganon will be exploring opportunities to grow the two- and three-year-old’s programs, moves he is confident will keep Ganon running at, or near, capacity once the JK has been moved to OJCS.
“We are dedicated to community and to preparing children for a Jewish life. We are supportive of the school,” said Sohn. “The SJCC provides after-care and break camps for OJCS families. This transition shows our willingness to prepare children and start them on the path to Jewish day school.”
Both the SJCC and OJCS, he said, will continue to work together in the interests of Jewish families and the community as a whole.