The small pool in the Peck Aquatic Center will be closed for the remainder of the day (6/21). The large pool will remain open. Check the My J App for the Pool Schedules.

Member Communications 3 min read

Gan Ami Goes Above and Beyond

By JCC Milwaukee June 30, 2021

It has long been a belief that the education and learning that happens at Gan Ami Early Childhood Education has extended beyond the classroom. Never has that belief been more tested – and proven true – than during a challenging and evolving 2020.

While classrooms at Gan Ami in both Whitefish Bay and Mequon opened to students in June, many families discovered that, while a return to their school was ideal – they just weren’t ready for a full-time return. Even still, they craved the social, emotional, and educational connections that are nurtured throughout Gan Ami – and the faculty and administrators delivered to meet that very real need.

‘Beyond the Gan’ launched in fall of 2020, providing a unique virtual education experience for families throughout the community. Where there once may have been geographic limitations, the virtual platform offered everyone the same, meaningful engagement opportunities for all. With the students from as far north as Appleton, ‘Beyond the Gan’ sought to bring the spirit and values of Gan Ami, optimized for virtual engagement, to JCC families.

Weekly classes featured song sessions, short effective ‘circle times ‘with learning concepts such as counting, days of the week, introducing science by observing the outdoor space near them, and movement mixed in to help engage and promote a healthy lifestyle. Activities – many of which were supported with home-delivered packages and supplies – were planned and prepared based of student interests, developmentally appropriate practices, and weaving Jewish Holidays in as they happened during the year. Special guests were featured throughout the school year – which even included a ‘field trip’ to the Zoo!

No matter where families were in their educational journey – no matter where they were in the country! – they discovered the inclusive and values-driven Gan Ami experience ready for them on their home devices. As community health conditions improved, many of these dozen-plus families transitioned back to in-person care and continue as part of the Gan Ami community to this day.

“It was a wonderful experience and helped us feel connected, especially when other families could participate in person and our kiddo might have felt left out, instead he felt part of the group,” shared one Beyond the Gan parent. “And Miss Wendy! That enthusiasm! Her cheerful voice was a highlight every week during some very dark days. The bag drop off was more than generous and so convenient.”

Today, both Gan Ami locations are thriving, filled again with the laughter of children and the guidance of teachers. But this experience has taught everyone – educator, parent, and child alike – that the values and discovery that happen in JCC spaces can happen far beyond any classroom (or playground!)

Read more Stories from the JCC 2020-21 Annual Report

Learn more about Gan Ami Early Childhood Education