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ECE Teacher Wins Smotrich Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education

We are beyond excited to announce that our very own Gina Socher will be accepting this year’s Smotrich Family Foundation Award of Merit for Early Childhood Educators at the BJE (Builders of Jewish Education) Bebe Feuerstein Simon Early Childhood Institute on March 14th. This conference is where hundreds of local ECE teachers gather annually for a day of

learning, skill building and professional growth. It is especially fitting that the theme for this year is “The Whole Child—Heart, Mind and Body”. Gina was selected from nominees representing over 40 Jewish preschools throughout greater Los Angeles and we couldn’t be prouder. Mazel Tov Gina!

Gina is a model of excellence in her passion and dedication for inspiring young children’s learning through play. She is creative, innovative and filled with boundless energy and enthusiasm. She can see the world through a child’s eyes and understands the magic of childhood. Her classroom is a place where children feel free to invent, create, explore and imagine.The environments Gina creates reflect her philosophy that children’s questions are more important than the answers and that play is the most important vehicle for learning.A passionate advocate for learning by doing and for making the doing meaningful and FUN, Gina is a most beloved teacher in our community.

Gina is the kind of teacher who will lay right down on the concrete so the children can trace around her body for their chalk art. She is the kind of teacher who will spend all day Sunday preparing for a special experience she’s dreamed up for her class. She is the kind of teacher who can see the goodness in every child and nurture their strengths so that they can shine in their own unique ways. She is the rare kind of teacher who teaches from the heart and oh, what a big heart she has! Gina lives, eats, and breathes early childhood education. It is not what she does, it’s truly who she IS. Gina often goes home decorated with splashes of paint and glue, sparkling with glitter and aglow from the ruach of the day.

While Gina’s formal experience and education in early childhood came a little later in her life, she seems born for it.After the birth of her youngest child,Gina opened a small home day care where she cared for her son as well as other’s (fortunate!) children. She went back to school to earn her ECE units, but most of Gina’s education is self-taught and by experience. She is always researching, observing and experimenting in order to keep up with best practices in the field. Gina models life long learning and like their teacher, her young students have developed a passion for learning. At any moment one visits Gina’s classroom, images of children engaged in meaningful, experiential and often messy learning emerge.You will find children writing, building, creating, experimenting, singing, dancing, cooking or constructing in different corners of her cozy and inviting room.There’s warmth and whimsy, personality and provocation, laughter and love.

Even as a Jewish educator, Gina doesn’t have to talk much about Jewish values. She lives them, modeling an incomparable yiddishkeit that flows seamlessly through her life. Gina’s school family and her home family...Gina’s homey classroom and her own family home...it all blends into the whole of who Gina is as a teacher, a wife/mother/grandmother, a colleague, a friend. Everyone who knows Gina, adores Gina. She has a gift for helping people feel at ease and whole in her presence. She also has an amazing sense of humor and the ability to laugh at herself. Gina is the mother of six grown and growing children and doting grandmother of three. She, along with her husband Sam and their family, are observant Jews who affiliate with Chabad of the Conejo in Agoura.The love and joyful Judaism that Gina brings to everything she does has touched all of our school community...she is our treasure!

A Jewish education is within your reach!

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