Remarks from TCEE’s 15th Anniversary Party, May 18, 2024

May 24, 2024

In one way or another, everyone in this room has been a special part of our Trust Center for Early Education (TCEE) journey and knows that TCEE is more than just a school. It’s a community, a family, and a place where our children have taken their first steps toward a bright future. Tonight, as we gather to celebrate TCEE’s 15th anniversary, we honor not just an institution, but a legacy of love, learning, and growth. 

Our sages teach that we each stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, and so I would be remiss if I did not recognize and thank those whose vision made TCEE a reality.  

TCEE was actually born in the early 2000’s and Rabbi Emily Lipof shared her vision for the future of Temple Ohabei Shalom. She insisted that our community needed a preschool that could provide a first-class program for toddlers and preschoolers (and soon infants) to fulfill Temple Ohabei Shalom’s commitment to lifelong learning, attract new families to our congregation, and contribute to the Temple’s financial viability. Standing here tonight, it is clear that we are fulfilling her vision of nurturing young hearts and minds within the embrace of our synagogue’s loving arms.   

I would like to thank the Trust Family who embraced our congregation’s vision of opening a state-of-the-art preschool and helping to make it a reality. Laura Trust and Alan Litchman, who unfortunately could not join us tonight, are menches in every sense of the word. They showed their dedication and commitment to high quality early education not only through financial support but also by spending countless hours mentoring me and our leadership team, participating in planning meetings, and offering thoughtful insights that helped us navigate challenges and seize opportunities. I would also like to acknowledge and thank Len Davidson, Michael Weintraub, and Larry Green who each ensured that our school had and has the foundation, resources, and support that it needs to flourish and grow. Please help me say thank you to these visionaries, who paved the way for us to create an environment where young minds can explore, learn, grow, and develop into future leaders, compassionate citizens, and proud Jews.  

On October 14, 2009 we opened our first classroom with only eight children (and two of them had the last name Churwin). As our pioneers, Matthew, Nicholas, Shayna, Ashley, Julia, Charlie, Poppy, and Eytan climbed the stairs to the renovated 2nd floor, they played, sang, danced, and more with Morah Karen, Morah Rhona, and Morah Sage. They walked through our doors with curious minds and left with a strong foundation of knowledge, Jewish connection, confidence, and the joy of learning. The values and skills they acquired here have stayed with them, guiding them as they continue to grow and thrive. 

From these humble beginnings, our preschool has flourished into a vibrant hub of early childhood education, where every child is cherished, seen B’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God, and every moment is a chance to inspire curiosity and ignite a lifelong love for learning. 

Over the past fifteen years, we’ve witnessed countless milestones—first steps, first words, first friendships forged within our walls. We’ve watched our little ones blossom into confident, compassionate individuals, guided by the timeless values of our faith and the unwavering dedication of our staff. Over time, we’ve expanded our facilities, developed a unique and thriving partnership with BEEP, the Brookline Early Education Program, and increased our capacity to welcome more students into our community. It is truly remarkable that just 15 years later, TCEE serves more than 100 students each day and because of our community’s commitment to inclusivity we are able to provide more than $100,000 of scholarships annually to families in need.  

Tonight we celebrate the countless achievements, the friendships formed, and the incredible impact this preschool has had on so many young lives. I would like to recognize and thank Amelia Remy, Santina Carpino, and Daniel Anderson who are among the unsung heroes in the TCEE Hall of Fame. With meticulous attention to detail, they provided invaluable support to staff, children, and families alike. Their dedication and warmth created a welcoming atmosphere, leaving a lasting impact on our school community. Though they each have moved on, their contributions remain cherished memories, woven into the fabric of our school’s history. 

Today, TCEE is thriving thanks to a dedicated team of professionals. Anna Goodkind, Emma Hahn, Emma Kantrov, Edye Katz, and Josh Cohen thank you for making the magic happen day after day. You are the “special sauce” who each brings skills and talents to our team. I would also like to personally thank Sherry Grossman, my mentor, and cheerleader who has been much more than our leadership consultant. To the many teachers, staff, parents, and volunteers who have played a vital role in shaping our preschool community, I extend my deepest gratitude.  

Tonight’s event is raising money to turn our playground into an outdoor classroom bringing more nature and outdoor exploration to our city campus. Studies have shown that outdoor play, specifically, helps children grow socially, gain problem-solving skills, and practice executive functioning skills, among many other benefits. In addition, of course, to the enormous physical and mental benefits of time spent in fresh air and sunshine! A project of this scale is an investment not only in our current community but in our future. The existing TCEE playground has served fifteen years of students well; we hope that this new playground will pave the way for even more learning and growing in the years to come. 

And finally, I am honored to stand here as a proud mom of two TCEE graduates who are proof that our students carry many lessons with them wherever they go. I hope that they appreciate the blessings in their lives both the material and the metaphysical — the blessings of having knowledgeable Rabbis like Audrey Berkman and Jennifer Queen, talented Cantors like Maayan Harel, and loving teachers who care and share a contagious joy of living a Jewish life. Our children should always remember that they have a Jewish tradition to help them walk through the ups and downs of life and a community that is family. 

Together, let us embark on the next fifteen years with courage, compassion, and a shared commitment to building a brighter future for all who pass through our doors. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being a part of this incredible journey. Here’s to fifteen years of memories made, and countless more yet to come. By investing in Jewish early education, we are investing in the future of our community, empowering our children to become leaders who will make a positive impact in the world. Through their knowledge, their actions, and their commitment to Jewish values, they will carry forward the rich legacy of our faith, ensuring that it continues to shine brightly for generations to come. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this incredible journey. Here’s to many more years of nurturing young minds and building bright futures!

Shari Churwin, Executive Director of Education & Administration