ECDC Open Advisory Board Meetings – Three Years of Preparation
Three years ago when ECDC first received the Pittsburgh JECEI grant, the Advisory Board began to think of ways to share leadership with the wider parent community. After all, collaboration among children, teachers and parents is the hallmark of the Reggio Emilia approach to education. But such transformation does not occur in a day. Over these past three years, ECDC has made countless adjustments in approach and in practice that made way for the first Open Advisory Board meeting that took place on the evening of August 7, 2018.
Some of the past lessons-learned were about how to invite others in truly welcoming ways. “Open advisory board meeting” sounds important, but does not exactly convey welcoming, so we came up with the title “ECDC Community/Kehillah\Gathering”. Even the punctuation / \ represents a sense of safety! We sent out email invitations that included the outline of the agenda so that people knew what to expect. We reached out to many parents individually.
Thirty seven teachers, parents and members of the board packed into the WRJ Room (aka Music Room) while others provided care for the children. (One thing we have learned is that we cannot welcome parents to an evening meeting without offering babysitting.) A beautiful spread of wine, cheese and fruit was prepared by Melinda Freed and a wonderful slide show was prepared by Ellen Drook. Both Rabbis of Temple Emanuel introduced themselves as “Rabbis of all – whether Temple member or not, whether Jewish or not”.
Like all Temple committees, the ECDC Advisory Board consists of Temple members. At any given time a few current ECDC parents may sit on the board. All ECDC parents are, by default, members of the Parent Teacher Partnership (PTP). The purpose of an open board meeting is to share dialogue between these two groups. We began the August 7 meeting with background information to bring everyone to common understanding of history, goals and vision. Then the meeting was open to questions, suggestions and comments. Parents also completed a form to indicate their interests, suggestions and ways they wish to be involved. We were happy to receive many offers for participation from gardening, woodworking and music making to data analysis! And two parents even offered to co-chair ECDC annual fundraising event Designer Bag Bingo.
CDC Community/Kehillah\Gatherings will take place on a quarterly basis. The next meetings will be on the Monday evenings of Nov 19, Feb 18 and May 20. The topics will be based on parent suggestions and the teachers will help to facilitate. ECDC will continue to welcome dialogue at these meetings and every day in between.