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Temple Beth Am is excited to welcome the SEED Early Childhood School at Temple Beth Am into our community. We took ownership of the Stroum Jewish Community Center's North Seattle ECS program, which is housed in Temple Beth Am K'hilah Center, on September 1, 2017. As an affiliate of Temple Beth Am, SEED ECS continues its program of Jewish values; Reggio Emilia-inspired, child-centered approach; and vibrant classroom environment. 

We're delighted to continue encouraging children to test their theories of the world so as to develop a love of learning, a strong sense of self-reliance, and a strong foundation for critical thinking, just as the Early Childhood School has always done. We’re also thrilled to be able to offer a Jewish education to people of all ages – from young children to teens to adults to seniors – so our message is one of Lifelong Learning. For more details, follow the links below. You may contact us with any additional questions at  seed@templebetham.org

Frequently Asked Questions for Early Childhood Families

It is with great pleasure that we announce that effective September 1, 2017, the Seattle Jewish Community Center’s (SJCC) North Seattle Early Childhood School (ECS) will become an affiliate of Temple Beth Am (TBA), under the auspices of a new nonprofit organization to be established by TBA.

How and why was this decision made?
Since 2007, the North Seattle ECS has been housed at TBA. That co‐location has been mutually beneficial and has allowed the two organizations to develop a deep and respectful working relationship. The SJCC’s recent strategic plan places more emphasis on broadened community engagement and strategic partnerships; this is one example of how those strategic partnerships can be leveraged. Adding an early childhood school – especially an established one built on Jewish values and a Reggio Emilia‐inspired, child‐centered approach – is consistent with TBA’s mission and values.

What changes will current families see?
Our joint goal is to make this a seamless experience for both families and staff of the ECS. Temple Beth Am will not change the Reggio Emilia‐inspired curriculum, management (including the leadership team of Jenn Magalnick, Dara McAllister, and Jennifer Birkner), or faculty – all of which have been integral to the success of the school. Current student‐staff ratios will also be maintained.

Do I have to be Jewish to enroll my child in the new Early Childhood School?
No. The school will continue to be a pluralistic and inclusive learning environment that incorporates Jewish values.

Will Temple Beth Am make changes to the curriculum?
Temple Beth Am is committed to retaining the Reggio Emilia‐inspired, child‐centered approach to growth and development, with a foundation in Jewish values.

Will there be any change in tuition?
Temple Beth Am will continue the SJCC’s policy of benchmarking tuition annually to reflect the market rate for an exceptional early childhood program.

Will scholarships still be available?  Yes.

Will this change affect enrollment priority?
Highest priority will remain with current ECS children, their siblings, and siblings of children who have graduated the program.

Will the school still have the same dietary restrictions?
Yes, Temple Beth Am will continue the policy that all food prepared or brought into the school must be dairy, pareve, or fish (kosher only – no shellfish). In addition, we will continue to be a peanut-free, nut‐aware environment.

What will happen to my SJCC membership?
For the first two years after the change in ownership, all current Seattle ECS families as of August 31, 2017 will continue to receive membership to the SJCC. After that, families may join the SJCC at regular membership rates.

What will happen to the ECS program on Mercer Island?
The SJCC will continue to run its Early Childhood School at the Mercer Island facility where families can also leverage the built‐in amenities and services available at that location.

Frequently Asked Questions for Temple Beth Am Members 

It is with great pleasure that we announce that effective September 1, 2017, the Seattle Jewish Community Center's (SJCC) North Seattle Early Childhood School (ECS) will become an affiliate of Temple Beth Am (TBA), under the auspices of a new nonprofit organization to be established by TBA.

How and why was this decision made?
Running an Early Childhood School is aligned with a synagogue’s core purpose of “building Jews” and ensuring Jewish continuity. Young families who enroll their children in the ECS get to know Temple Beth Am and will naturally look to us when they are ready to engage with a Reform synagogue community.

The Temple Beth Am Board decided that, in the long run, Temple Beth Am will be in a better situation overall if we are in control of the use of the K’hilah Center. SJCC’s 10year lease of the building was beneficial to us, but, at the same time, their impending lease expiration in 2017 highlighted the risk we face when a tenant changes course for whatever reason.

We also realized that the opportunity to take over a profitable, well
run early childhood development school does not come along very often. In fact, when we talked with staff at the URJ who work in the area of early childhood, they thought it was a “nobrainer to acquire the ECS and is one of the single best things a synagogue can do to ensure its future. The management team – including Jenn Magalnick and Dara McAlister (both of whom are Temple Beth Am members), and Jennifer Birkner – are committed to staying on. They are wellrespected in the early childhood community and bring a wealth of resources to continue running a topnotch school.


Does this mean that Temple Beth Am will focus on little kids and stop doing programming for seniors?
Not at all! When we talk about Jewish continuity, we mean Jews at every age and stage of life. We will continue to be a beit am, a house for all people, of all ages.

What will the financial impact be on TBA?
The school has had great and growing success in recent years and currently has a waiting list. Demographic trends in Seattle indicate that there will be increasing demand for high-quality early childhood schools for the foreseeable future. We also believe that no longer having to depend on a tenant for income from the K’hilah Center puts us in a stronger financial position because it gives us more control over the source of revenue.

Our intent is that the addition of the ECS will not add to the workload of our current staff. We anticipate hiring two new employees to provide administrative support – functions that are currently being provided by the SJCC on Mercer Island, such as registration and accounting. Our clergy and Religious School staff may be asked from time-to-time for input on the Jewish content of the school.


What other options did we consider for use of the K’hilah Center?
Because of the zoning restrictions on use of the property, and because of the fact that the K’hilah Center is connected to the main Temple Beth Am building, there were very few feasible options – and we considered all of them. Taking over the ECS was the only option that met all three criteria of aligning with our mission, being financially responsible, and honoring the dedication and sacrifice of our members who helped us build the K’hilah Center. Other alternatives would have resulted in the K’hilah Center being reconfigured to meet a new tenant’s structural and design specifications, making it less suitable for our Religious School classes and erasing the building’s identity as part of TBA.