MEQUON – Preschool.
It’s a place where children learn basic shapes, colors, the alphabet, fine- and gross-motor skills, social skills and independence.
At Mequon Jewish Preschool, students learn all that — and more.
“We want to see our graduates as leaders and people who can give back to the community,” said Rivkie Spalter, director of the school. “We teach our students to be responsible for each other, and for older kids to take care of younger children. There is also a strong sense of community at our preschool.”
Owing to that strong sense of community, parents and faculty began to wonder: Why shouldn’t graduates continue to mentor and help the children at Mequon Jewish Preschool?
Well, why not? And that’s how the Alumni Program was born. Seven years later, the program is going strong.
Since the program’s inception, about 100 alumni have been involved, ranging in ages from 5 to 25.
“At meetings they do the planning,” said Robyn Eiseman, assistant director. “All we do is help facilitate it. It’s remarkable what these young kids can do.”
Eiseman related an instance when a 12-year-old girl had an idea for a program and shared it with a male alumnus who attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison. “He thought the idea was amazing and they ended up choosing (the 12-year-old girl’s) idea. How often do you have a situation with children in elementary school and young adults having a discussion where everybody is treated with respect?”
A snapshot of two young leaders
Elan Levin, 14, and his brother Ben, 11, both attended the school. They’re currently involved in the Alumni Program. (And no, their parents don’t make them participate — they do it because they want to.)
“There are a number of events throughout the year that we’re involved with,” Elan said. “We either help run the events or figure out ways to improve them.”
During the back-to-school barbeque this year, Ben said they came up with a game for kids to guess how much candy was in a jar. The child who guessed closest won the candy. Naturally, the game was a hit.
This year is the school’s 18th anniversary. The Hebrew for “life” is “chai,” and its numeric value is 18, making this year particularly special. To mark the occasion, Elan and Ben said the Alumni Program is making a video with interviews of preschoolers, alumni, parents of new students, and parents who’ve been involved with the school for many years.
The benefits of being an alumni
Elan and Ben said the Alumni Program has been a rewarding experience.
“It’s nice to give back to the preschool and help out with the events that we enjoyed when we went there,” said Ben. “It feels good to help the preschoolers have a good time.”
Both brothers agreed that the Alumni Program will benefit them throughout their lives.
“Learning to be leaders will definitely help me and Elan throughout our lives,” said Ben.
“We now have the confidence it takes to become leaders,” said Elan.