Brenner Family ELC Expands Space, Learning Opportunities

By Macy Deskiewicz and Susan Strickland

The Pre-K class has undergone some major changes this year and we could not be more excited.

Last June, construction began to create our fantastic new classroom. By September, we were ready to start our official first day of school in our new space on the 2nd floor of the Harrisburg JCC. From the fun, kid-friendly furniture to new toys, atmosphere and supplies, Pre-K has been completely reimagined. 

“The ELC is such a pivotal part of the Jewish community and the neighborhood,” said Elizabeth Weese of the Alexander Grass Foundation, which provided a grant covering all of the construction costs and other expenses of the expansion. “It provides a sound and strong basis for our children’s Jewish identity and enhances multicultural understanding.”

We are so grateful for this unique opportunity to expand and broaden our horizons. Our new room is divided into four areas with distinct purposes and themes. The Circle-Time Sloth Room is our main gathering space. We do our daily circle time here, as well as the question of the day, mitzvah recording, and books, games, and puzzles.

The Performing Puppies Room is our imagination space, used for dramatic play with dress up, a kitchen, a vet, and even a red carpet and stage.

The Handy Horse Room is used for blocks, Legos, and other building materials, as well as our science and math.

Finally, we have our Busy Bears Room, aptly named for its multiple uses as an art center, as well as our snack and lunch tables. Another exciting aspect of our new space is the windows lining our entire room. Not only is this providing beautiful views of the Susquehanna River, but also teachable moments about nature’s constant changes throughout the seasons and days. 

The ELC’s success and strong reputation has allowed us to grow the program significantly. We have added so many new classmates and friends this year, which prompted our move to a larger space. The nature and strategic layout of these rooms allow the teachers to divide and conquer by enabling multiple rooms to be used simultaneously without interrupting one another’s activities.

We love using rotation as a way to keep ourselves organized while maintaining multiple activities and areas of learning throughout the day. Our Pre-K class has had so much fun this year exploring our new surroundings and learning about the Jewish holidays, alphabet, and fan favorite, Flat Stanley. This Chanukah, we filled our new window space with a faux stained glass Menorah, which the class worked on collaboratively.

Working together and creating larger than life representations of lessons is just one of the many ways we are able to create an immersive experience. We are really looking forward to seeing what new lessons we can expand upon in the New Year. The possibilities are endless! We would like to again express our gratitude on behalf of the Pre-K staff, students, and classes to come for allowing us to flourish.