Unexpected Journeys in Education

May 17, 2017

When Karen Faust began working at the JCC in 1997, little did she realize that she, a Christian woman raised on a dairy farm in New Holstein, WI, would someday embark on a Jewish journey of epic proportions.

Karen is the site manager for Gan Ami Early Childhood Education’s Mequon location at the Linda and Fred Wein Center for Gan Ami. She is an early childhood educator with nearly 20 years of experience, a Bachelor’s degree sociology degree, and graduate work in special education. In 2014, she was chosen to participate in the first fellowship cohort of the JCCA’s ground-breaking Sheva Center, an innovative approach to early childhood education that empowers educators and positions JCC early childhood education centers as examples of excellence.

Seven Core Elements of Sheva

• Children as Constructivist Learners (D’rash Interpretation – inquiry, dialogue, and transmission)

• Early Childhood Directors as Visionaries (B’rit Covenant – belonging and commitment)

• Early Childhood Educators as Professionals (Masa Journey – reflection, return, and renewal)

• Families as Engaged Partners (Hit’orerut Awakening – amazement and gratitude)

• Environments as Inspiration for Inquiry (K’dushah Holiness – intentionality and presence)

• Discover CATCH as Sh’mirat HaGuf (taking care of our bodies) (CATCH is Coordinated Approach to Children’s Health – a JCCA childhood wellness program) (Tikkum Olam Repair of the World – responsibility)

• Israel as the Story of the Jewish People

For Karen, this three-year fellowship helped her grow more confident. Through the leadership development skills learned through Sheva, she realized that she could impact more children’s lives by taking on a broader leadership role. A highlight of her experience was her trip to Israel in December 2016. Karen now has a personal connection with Eretz Yisrael and feels a kinship with the Jewish community that she hadn’t experienced before. Of her time in Israel Karen says:

" People told me this trip would change me, but I did not realize how deep the impact would be until after I returned. When I was in Israel I was able to open up all of my senses, pores and emotions to fully absorb this entire experience. What I realize I brought back from Israel was a better, more knowledgeable version of myself.”

Karen is extremely grateful for her Gan Ami and JCC families who supported her in accepting and participating in this fellowship program and invested whole-heartedly in her professional development.

Registration is now open for the 2017-2018 Gan Ami School Year. Call today to learn more about options for your youngest learner!