Coming Full Circle
If you don’t believe in serendipity now, you are about to change your mind!
To say that the JCC has been life changing for Andrea Rosenfield Short is truly an understatement. At age 13, Andrea was searching for a summer experience to complement her interest in children. Her mother, Director of the Jewish Book Festival, suggested she try volunteering in the Early Childhood Center (ECC). At that initial meeting, she sat nervously in the ECC Directors’ office and discussed her responsibilities to provide support to a four-year-old boy with special needs. Andrea fell in love with the JCC’s fulfillment of its mission of inclusivity as she learned alongside children, with her co-workers, and in particular, with this extraordinary little boy.
After that first summer, Andrea dedicated her high school and college vacations to the ECC classrooms or after-school in Kids’ Korner. It was no surprise that she decided to pursue a degree in education. “I developed a passion for education. I learned that I wanted to be a teacher from my experiences at the JCC,” says Andrea.
COMING FULL CIRCLE
After completing her undergraduate degree, Andrea found herself back in that very same chair in the ECC Directors’ office being offered a chance to prove herself while the Transitional Kindergarten (TK) teacher was on maternity leave. “That year was magical. I truly believed in what we were doing, and the children were so thoroughly engaged in the most critical work of childhood: play.”
Andrea went on to complete her master’s and, yet again, landed in that same chair in the ECC office. “I returned to the ECC once again to teach TK. You can’t replicate the relationships we develop with the families here - it is truly a community. Kindergarten is one of the biggest adjustments in a young child’s life. In our classroom, we structured learning opportunities that built confidence, taught kindness, and helped children to find their voice.”
“I learned from everyone who I co-taught with and they became lifelong friends. It’s one thing to go to work each day, it is another thing to develop lifelong friendships.” When she married a few years later, “the family of the young boy I worked with during that first summer shared a beautiful reading as part of our ceremony.”
A NEW TURN
A JCC Association consultant at a teachers’ professional development day recognized Andrea’s potential and recommended that she apply for their prestigious fellowship program. Sitting in that office chair in the ECC Director’s office, former Co-Director Pam Powell, encouraged her to take advantage of this amazing opportunity. The fellowship became the lynchpin for Andrea’s future at the ECC. By joining a “community of thinkers, who are also a support system, and learning more about both the teaching and the administrative duties,” Andrea went on to further demonstrate her leadership skills and she also garnered a deeper understanding of how to impart Jewish values to her students.
Soon, Andrea was back in the ECC Directors’ office chair. This time, that chair was about to become her own. As always, the JCC community was there to support her as she eased into her new role as ECC Assistant Director. Pam, and her partner Gen Delay-Pasternak were there to help her succeed.
A COMMUNITY OF SUPPORT
Sadly, Andrea’s father was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer days before her wedding. “It was difficult. My dad was my world. But the ECC team told me to do what I needed to help care for him. When my dad passed away, the ECC team and families were there with warm and loving hugs.”
“We did not belong to a temple, so my JCC family stepped in and made all the arrangements for the shiva luncheon – ironically in the same room where my bridal shower took place a year earlier. I was overwhelmed, but Mitch Shakun comforted me and said, ‘we will figure it out.’ Many of my ECC teammates from the last 17 years were at the service, along with David, Annie, and even some of the TK families. They made it happen.”
“The JCC has seen me through my entire life. I have had a continuous circle of support from this compassionate J community.”
Andrea Rosenfield Short’s involvement with the ECC began at age 13.