Community Day School (CDS) has announced that it will launch a prekindergarten class in the fall of 2013.
The full day program for 4-year-olds will offer a learning experience that organically weaves Hebrew and Judaics into its daily lessons.
The new pre-K at CDS is intended to serve as a feeder into the Solomon Schechter-affiliated school’s primary education program, as well as provide another preschool option to Jewish families in the area, according to Avi Baran Munro, head of school.
Until now, CDS has been the only Jewish day school in Pittsburgh that did not have a pre-K program. In addition, most of the private secular schools that often are considered by potential CDS parents have their own pre-K programs as feeders.
CDS’ new pre-K will be distinctive from other pre-K programs in the area, said Munro, as a result of CDS’ expertise in interweaving Judaics into its general curriculum.
“We have established expertise in music, art, technology, Hebrew and Jewish studies,” Munro said. “And we are very experienced in integrating Jewish learning into the fabric of the day.”
Pre-K students at CDS will also benefit from being part of a larger student community, according to Munro.
“We have a really nice vertical community in our school,” she said.
That community, which includes children through eighth grade, as well as adults, is based on CDS’ “Shvatim” (the 12 Tribes of Israel) program, in which each member of the school is part of a multiage tribe of about 25 “tribe mates” of all ages that stay together throughout their time at CDS. The school has regular tribe time on a weekly basis that allows for special activities and interactions.
“It makes for an enriched family feel,” Munro said, adding that both the younger and older children enjoy interacting with those of varied ages.
The program will be able to accommodate 18 four-year-olds in its first year, and has already received several applications for admission.
CDS is currently engaged in an international search for a lead teacher/founding director to run the new class.
While Munro acknowledged that the new CDS pre-K might be seen, initially, as competition for existing preschools, they are planning on working together in a spirit of cooperation.
“I’m sure every time there is a new program, there is a sense of competition,” she said. “But after communities go through that initial response, the bottom line is that there is just another good option for Jewish families.”
Although some parents may decide to move their children who are currently enrolled in other programs to CDS, Munro hopes that many students will come from families who currently are not attending a Jewish school.
“We hope to bring more families into the Jewish community,” she said.
“I feel very much supported in our goal of having a thriving Jewish community,” she added, noting that leaders representing the other programs have already reached out to wish CDS “good luck.”
“We are looking for ways to support each other’s programs and each other’s staff,” she said. “We plan to share in staff training and support, as we do with the other day schools.”