A Great Start!

Posted on

The 2013-2014 school year at the DuBow Preschool is off to a great start!

We welcomed 12 new families and many new students.  It was great to welcome some of our families back, who have children who are preschool alumni and have now registered their younger siblings.  Thank you to all our parents who have reached out to welcome new parents to the school.  Several moms have shared with me that they have been so happy with our warm reception.  We also had a great turn-out for our first Shalom Baby class, a free playgroup for babies, toddlers and their loved ones!


In the first weeks of school, the teachers are busy getting to know the children, teaching them the routines of the classroom, helping them transition into the new year and assessing theIMG_3284ir developmental level and skills.  Careful observation and thoughtful assessing helps our teachers individualize instruction and develop activities and curricula to meet the needs of our children.  The teachers will be sharing their observations with parents over time and at regularly scheduled conferences.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to speak with your child’s teacher.

All classes started the year off by teaching the chilIMG_3253dren about Rosh Hashanah through stories, songs, crafts and yummy treats.  On Tuesday the children will enjoy apples and honey, thanks to our PTA.  IMG_3296



IMG_3273IMG_3287 IMG_3277Children from the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School frequented our classes, sounding the shofar.  Our children have blown the shofarot they made in class or in a simulation with their teachers.  ”Wake up Jewish people!”  Each class has been making beautiful Rosh Hashanah cards and some have made honeydishes to adorn their holiday tables.  We look forward to celebrating the New Year together this week.  Will you join us?

Rosh Hashanah Day 1  9/5  & Day 2  9/6:  Family Service at 10 am- a fun interactive service for families with preschool aged children. Morah Rachel & Morah Miriam will lead Day 1 and I will lead with a special story by Emily Carpenter on Day 2.  (Please enter through the front JJC entrance, and meet us in the indoor playroom.)                                 *For those of you who signed up, you can drop off your child in the preschool to stay and play in “Preschool High Holiday Children Programming” anytime between 10 – 1:45 each day.  If your child will be staying during the noon hour, please pack a bag lunch, making sure it is kosher, dairy and nut free.

Tashlickh Service: 9/5 at 6:30 pm at the pond – a beautiful, musical service by the pond


On a different note, living in Florida means learning to live with inclement weather.  During the first week of school, shortly before the 12:30 carpool time, the weather radio in our office sounded an alert.  We were under a “Tornado Warning”.  The children were in the indoor playroom enjoying lunch, some parents were in the lobby, the carpool lane had a long line and our phone was ringing asking if we had heardthe warning.  I was about to begin our severe weather protocol.   Thankfully, the warning was lifted and we were able to continue, albeit with caution.

What if?

If the Tornado Warning had not been lifted, we would have used our preschool “all call” intercom system to inform teachers of the weather conditions and to ask them tomove the children to the nearest safe place.  Meanwhile, I would have informed parents who were waiting in their cars of the situation and asked them to come into the building to take cover.  We would have postponed carpool and the School Reach System would be activated to let families know of the situation.

Once the weather radio informed us of the lifting of the “Tornado Warning” we would have issued an all clear message and we would have continued with the carpool and the day’s activities.   

Had this occurred, I assure you that we would be ready to act and that your children would be in a secure place.  We practice for fire drills monthly, weather and lockdown drills regularly.  To learn more, read your DuBow Preschool Family Manual.  You may also call me with any questions or concerns.


Tornado Watch vs. Tornado Warning

Tornado Watch – let’s us know to be on the lookout for a possible tornado in the area & to be cautious

Tornado Warning – a notification that a tornado has been spotted or is denoted by radar in the area – YOU MUST TAKE COVER 



Inclement Weather Policy:  If Duval County Public Schools close – the Galinsky Academy schools close.


I look forward to a terrific school year and to watching your children blossom.

For LOTS of wonderful photos, visit our FLKR site each week!  You will find links to our photo site and the individual classroom blogs in our weekly “Preschool Connections” e-news each week.  I also encourage you to join our Facebook.

L’Shana Tova Umetuka,





Everything you need to know for Back to School at DuBow Preschool!

Posted on

Shalom DuBow Preschool Parents,

We are very busy this week planning for the start of another terrific year with your cuties!
This is our first Preschool “Connections” of the school year.  You will receive this e-newsletter every Thursday going further, unless there is a holiday.  This is our primary means of communication with you.  Each week we will share with you a calendar of upcoming events, special notices, photos, and featured articles to help you get to know our wonderful faculty and what is going on in our classrooms. There will also be a link to your child’s teacher’s blog which will be updated weekly.  This will give you information about what your child’s classroom is up to, photos and important reminders.  I urge you to make it a habit to read our “Connections” newsletter, then click on your classroom blog every Thursday to make sure you do not miss a thing!
We have other modes of communication: Facebook, classroom blogs, website, Twitter, classroom emails, and coming later this year – Pinterest!
How do you communicate with your child’s teacher?
You will receive an email address for your child’s teacher.  She will return your messages within 24 hours.  Please notice that we do not communicate on Shabbat and holidays.  If your message or question is time sensitive, please simply call the office and we will be happy to help you or pass on your message to the teacher.
We look forward to seeing you this Friday for Meet & Greet.  This is a special time for you to bring your child and acquaint him/her with the teachers, the school and classroom.  Take your time, drop off your supplies, meet new friends, look for your child’s cubby, show your child where the bathroom and sink are.  This year we will be joined by Ms. Ilene, our PJ Library representative.  Our kids love when she shows up with a story or two and activities.  She is going to share a story at 11:30 and we will have snacks set up following the story.  She will also stick around to share with the parents how you can sign up to receive a free Jewish book each month.
This coming Sunday, you are invited to join our PTA Back to School Pool Party at the Yegelwel Pool at the Jacksonville Jewish Center 2:00 – 4:30 p.m. Come help us celebrate the start of a brand new school year, meet friends and have fun!
Our much anticipated first day of school will be next Monday, August 19.  After you drop off your child, please come to the Parent breakfast and orientation in the Social Hall.  You won’t want to miss this opportunity to meet other parents and stay for a Q & A session.
Finally, I want to share with you that the High Holy Days will soon be here and we have special plans for you and your family.  If you haven’t seen the holiday guide, please visit the JJC website at www.jaxjewishcenter.org.  There is a listing of all the holiday services and children’s programming.  We ask that you reserve a spot for your child in the Preschool Children’s Programming for the days you would like to join us for services.  This is a complimentary service for parents attending services.  I hope you will come join us for our preschool service then have your children stay and play with our dedicated preschool staff.
I look forward to a wonderful school year.  It is a privilege to work with your children, help in their development and watch them blossom.
Please feel free to call me with any suggestions and concerns.
Shereen Canady

Welcome Back to School!

Posted on

Dear DuBow Preschool Families,

We are busy preparing for your return and the fantastic year ahead of us! The teachers will be returning to spend preplanning week together, training, planning and getting the school ready. Soon, your child will receive a special post card from his/her teacher welcoming you and inviting you to our annual Meet & Greet.

In the meantime, what can you do to get ready for school?

Go to our website at http://www.dubowpreschool.org for the following important information:

Read our 2013-2014 Family Handbook.    This is a comprehensive guide that will share all you ever wanted to know about the DuBow Preschool and more!  There is a parent acknowledgement form at the end of the handbook.  Please print it out, sign it and turn it in to us when school begins.

Supply Lists – Please purchase the items that are requested and bring them in when you come for Meet & Greet.

Lunch Menus – You will find menus for the months of August and September.  Please fill them out if you wish to purchase lunch, attach a check and return them to our office as soon as possible.

2013-2014 School Calendar

Challah Fundraiser Order Form – Money raised goes towards the Shabbat box program and other PTA services.

Important Upcoming Dates

August 10                  Shul & Pool Preschool Style! More information can be found by clicking here.

August 12 – 15          Teacher Preplanning Week – our teachers will be working hard to prepare for the beginning of our school year.

August 16                  Meet & Greet from 10:00 – 12:00 PM.     We invite you to come meet your child’s teacher, tour the school and see old and new friends!

August 16                  PJ Library Storytime & Snack with Ms. Ilene Schinasi at 11:30 AM

August 18                  PTA Back to School Pool Party from 2:00 – 4:00 PM. For more information click here.

August 19                  First day of school!! Parents, please stay for a special Parent Breakfast following drop-off.  Get to know other parents and learn more about our  program. There will be a light breakfast and time for questions and answers.

We look forward to seeing you and welcoming back our sweet preschoolers and some new friends.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office at 268-4200 ext. 143.

Thank you for choosing to become part of the DuBow Preschool family.  It is our great pleasure to work with you and help nurture your child’s love for learning

Annual Parent Survey Results

Posted on

Toward the end of each year, parents are given an opportunity to anonymously share their thoughts and feelings about each area of our school’s operations.  My faculty and I use this feedback to reflect on our practices and strengthen our program.

It is now time to share these results with you.  First of all, the survey was completed by 34 parents vs. 4 last year.  Therefore more parents responded, which is good, next year we will strive to reach more parents so that the validity of the data is stronger.

Let’s move on to the data we collected this year!

We received feedback from parents in all age groups.  Hopefully, in the future we will receive more feedback from the many parents who enroll their children in our Kids Club, extended day programs (7-8:30 am and 3:30-6 pm).

Our retention rate is exceptional.  All but one family, who may be moving out of town, has re-enrolled for next year.  We hope they are able to stay!  Another wonderful statistic to share with you is that many of our families have chosen to continue in the Galinsky Academy by enrolling their child in kindergarten at the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School.  17 out of the 18 enrolled for kindergarten at MJGDS in the coming year are from our VPK classes.  Our other Academy option for parents is to enroll in the kindergarten program at the Bernard and Alice Selevan Religious School.  For more details about this wonderful program, visit www.basrs.org  or contact Lois Tompkins, the principal of Galinsky Academy’s religious school at 268-4200 ext.  145.

Our overall satisfaction rating is promising.  On a scale of 0-10, our average ended up being 8.8.  Last year we scored an 8.7.  I am happy to see that with a higher number of parents completing the parent survey this year, our satisfaction rating continued to be high– but we still have room to grow.

We are pleased with our overall high marks in all areas of operations, curriculum and administrative support.

This year we redesigned our program by offering a Half Day Preschool Program (8:30 -12:30), Full Day Preschool Program (8:30-3:30) with extended day options before and after school (Kids Club).   As we became the Galinsky Academy, we also increased our number of school days by 10 to match the day school’s 180 days.  We offer one of the longest school years of any private preschool in Jacksonville and this year we included lunch-time in our half day program.

Children enrolled in our Full Day Preschool Program benefit from additional small group instruction, and attend afternoon resource classes in music, art, P.E., library and Jewish Studies at the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School.  These children were very proud to see some of their artwork displayed in the MJGDS art show this year!

This year we also introduced our new Discovery Studio and integrated science curriculum.   We added an experienced science educator to our faculty.  Greg Nagel brought in expertise in experiential teaching methods, exciting hands-on science classes and built our indoor-outdoor Discovery Studio.  The children spent a great deal of time in the studio and our garden, getting their hands dirty, experimenting, creating, exploring and figuring out how things work.  We have plans to continue to expand this program and add to our Discovery garden in the coming year!

So, how do we rate in the area of academics and how well prepared our students are for kindergarten?

Within the first 30 days of kindergarten, one of the requirements we must meet as a school who offers the Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) program, is to make sure our students undergo tests which measure their kindergarten readiness skills.  These scores are compared to all students in Florida entering kindergarten.  For the past 7 years, our VPK students have scored in the top percentiles of all students in the state and each year our school has earned an “A” !

This year the state required that all VPK students take an assessment twice during the VPK year and that these scores be submitted to the state database.  I chose to have our teachers administer the optional third test mid-year so that we could use this information to better plan for instruction and target the skills that each individual child needed to work on.

I am thrilled with the results of the final assessment given a few weeks ago.

Our VPK students are very well prepared.  They scored in the “Exceeding Expectations” range in the four categories tested.

Assessment Measure

Max. Score

DuBow Preschool VPK student average


Print Knowledge



Exceeding Expectations

Phonological Awareness





Oral Language/ Vocabulary








Exceeding Expectations

Communication is extremely important.  We want you to hear more than, “we painted, and ate strawberries today.”  Together we will make the most impact on your child’s progress when we communicate effectively.

We continue to have high marks in all areas of communication.  The area I will work on with my faculty in the coming year is in providing consistent feedback on each child’s individual development.   We gather data on each child daily through observations, and evaluations using developmental checklists and age appropriate assessments.  Each teacher creates a portfolio and shares the work samples, photos and anecdotal records with parents at conferences in the Fall and Spring.   We do not send home worksheets and samples each week as these methods are not the best approaches to teaching preschool aged children.  They learn through experiences and hands-on activities.  Often there is no product to share with the parent.  The children are making great gains in development; however, parents do not see concrete examples as they do in elementary school.  So, we will look for other means of sharing information on your child’s growth with you!  I am currently working with the VPK team to develop digital portfolios, similar to those used at our day school.  Stay tuned for more details!

Kids Club provides care for our children before and after school.  We offer flexible schedules to meet our families’ needs.  Some of our children enjoy our morning “Breakfast Club” with Ms. Cheryl and Ms. Robin.  These children are greeted early each day, eat breakfast, play, read, and prepare for the day of school to come. Many children stay with us after school.  This is a fun, yet structured time that provides enriching inside and outside activities and play.

Only one parent rated this program and I am pleased they are happy; however, I hope we receive more feedback in the future so we can really reflect on what is working and where we need to improve.

I take my role as the director of the preschool and early childhood department very seriously.   I am passionate about early childhood education and know that what we do in preschool can have lasting and positive impacts on a child’s development, and future learning.  It is my goal to build a relationship with each family so that I can help teachers meet the needs and expectations that each family has for their children.

When you enroll in our school, you and your child become part of our family and the larger Galinsky Academy and Jacksonville Jewish Center community.  We make a commitment to each family to help partner with you to help your child progress academically, socially, physically and spiritually.  I organize not only the preschool program but also work with our wonderful JJC clergy to offer many opportunities for our families to come together to bond, learn, pray, and build friendships.  I encourage you to come to our holiday programming, playgroups, Gan Shabbat, and other fun opportunities as they come.  My door is always open and I value your feedback, comments and suggestions.  Please feel free to contact me at any time at scanady@dubowpreschool.org.

Thank you to all the parents who took the time and care to fill out the Annual Parent Survey.   In addition to the multiple-choice questions, there were opportunities for open-ended responses.  They added an additional layer of depth; one which is difficult to summarize for a post like this.  But please know that all comments will be shared with those they concern as we use this data to make enhancements and improvements headed into next year.  Overall, we are very pleased with how satisfied our parents are with how the school is doing; however, we are always thoughtfully examining what we are doing, researching best practices, collaborating with the clergy and the many educational experts in the Galinsky Academy in our quest to continue to grow and strengthen our program.  We believe, as Dr. Jon Mitzmacher says, that in our school there is “a floor, but no ceiling”.  It is our desire to provide a solid foundation for our children, meet their individual needs and prepare them for a life long journey of learning.