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Joining ECE-RJ Was One Of The Best Decisions Of My Life

Joining ECE-RJ Was One Of The Best Decisions Of My Life
03 Sep 2021 by Fern Katz

Dear Friends,

This month, as we begin another year of unknowns (but really, isn’t every year unknown?), I was asked to write about how ECE-RJ has impacted me. I think the request was to write from a professional viewpoint – but the effect has also been very personal.

Nine years ago, at about this time of year, I joined ECE-RJ. At the time, I thought, “Why not join?”

 I had been an Early Childhood Jewish Director but not a director of a congregational preschool.  Maybe it would help me learn the ropes.  I had no idea what to expect but thought I would give it a shot. Now, as I begin my tenth year at this congregation, I look back and think, “Joining ECE-RJ was one of the best decisions I ever made.”

The difference that ECE-RJ has made in my professional and personal life is monumental.

The beginning of my ECE-RJ experience was a pretty quiet one. I did not know anyone when I went to my first conference in Morristown, N.J., and I did not know what to expect. I stayed in the background, learned a lot, and had some great discussions with other members. It wasn’t until the last night, when I signed up to go to dinner with people I had never met, that I made my first ECE-RJ friend (she is still one of my favorite people).

Over the next several months, I followed the Listserv and saw there were many educators who shared similar experiences and were ready to help each other along the way. As a side note, a few years ago ECE-RJ moved away from the Listserv to forums on the ECE-RJ website, a much better way to share and support!

A year after the conference, I found I needed to connect with someone I had met in New Jersey. My daughter was traveling to a place where she did not know anyone, and neither did I, or so I first thought. I remembered I had met one person at the ECE-RJ conference who lived in the area, so I reached out, reintroducing myself and asking if she would be an emergency contact to calm a nervous mother. She wrote back and said she would be honored. “Honored,” I thought. “Who says that?”

Well, a kind and loving ECE-RJ member who would help another in her ECE-RJ community. Fortunately, my daughter did not have any emergencies, and even more fortunately, I made a lifelong friend.

After that, I slowly became involved in a committee, doing small tasks and meeting more people. Soon, I had contacts and friends all over North America. That grew into more and more involvement that has proven to be so rewarding. But it began with small steps and taking a risk – saying I wanted to help.

From small steps and risks comes growth.