May Family Nursery School

At Central Synagogue

Dear Parents,

Welcome to the May Family Nursery School.

Early childhood is the gateway to learning, and here at Central Synagogue, we are committed to providing young children with a creative and experiential learning environment. During their time in our school, children are recognized as individuals with unique interests, personality traits, and strengths. We give them the freedom to be creative and encourage the self-confidence needed to explore, experiment, and problem solve. Our goal is to nurture the development of the intellectual, social and emotional, language and physical skills that will establish a strong foundation for each child as an eager and curious learner throughout his or her life, and shorter term, will ensure a successful transition to kindergarten.

Interwoven throughout our school year are rich Jewish learning experiences and compelling celebratory times that help children begin to develop a sense of connection to Judaism as they interact with the clergy, explore ritual objects, celebrate holidays and learn about Jewish values that are meaningful in their lives—tikkun olam (fixing the world), tzedakah (righteousness, popularly referred to as charity), and g’milut chasadim (acts of kindness).

When I am not in the classrooms interacting with our children, one of my deepest pleasures is partnering with parents during this early and tender time in their children’s lives. Whether parents wish to meet to discuss their child’s transition into our school, social interactions with their classmates, individual learning styles, or plans for school after the nursery school years—the exmissions process—I look forward to engaging with them and providing them with support, as together, we seek answers to their questions and concerns.

I invite you to learn more about our school and all that it has to offer to your children and family as an integral part of the warm, dynamic, and innovative Central Synagogue community.

Warm regards,

Cindy Grebow
Director, Early Childhood Department

Our Philosophy

At the May Family Nursery School at Central Synagogue, our goal is to provide each child with a strong foundation for personal fulfillment, academic success and connection to Judaism throughout their lives. In every class and at every age, our approach to early childhood education centers on hands-on, experiential learning that sparks curiosity, engages creativity, and urges children to think imaginatively as they explore their environment in the classroom, begin to think about the world outside of their classroom, and seek their own solutions to their questions and the challenges that arise through their work and play during the school day.

In a warm, welcoming, and nurturing environment that values and recognizes the uniqueness and individuality of each child, children learn through play in its many forms, engage with interesting and developmentally-appropriate materials, form friendships, learn how to work and play collaboratively, and begin the process of becoming lifelong learners with a growing sense of self-confidence, responsibility and independence.

Through a focus on emergent curriculum, in which we use the interests of the children as a starting point for in-depth, integrated exploration across all academic disciplines, from language, math, science, and social studies to music and art, children make connections and develop their own understanding with the guidance of teachers who are attuned to each child’s learning style and know how to help extend their knowledge, as they ponder, explore and problem solve. Throughout each child’s time in our school, we work closely with parents, communicating and partnering with them to help each child reach his or her full potential as happy, relaxed, and confident learners with a lasting sense of Jewish connection.

Our Classes

There are seven classes in our school for children from two to five years old, with programs ranging from Young Twos to Pre-Kindergarten. Children must be two years old by September 30, 2014 in order to be enrolled in our school.

Twos Classes

Yellow Room/Bananot (Younger Twos)

During the 2013–14 school year, this class meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:45–11:30 a.m.

Please note that for the 2014–15 school year, a Tuesday/Thursday class will be added for our youngest two year olds, approximately 2.0–2.4 years old, also from 8:45–11:00 a.m.

Purple Room/Anavim (Older Twos)

Monday through Friday, 8:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Threes Classes

Green Room/Tzefardim

Monday through Friday, 8:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Extended Day hours in the Green Room begin in January, when the children stay for lunch in school and the class is dismissed at 1:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Dismissal on Friday continues at 12:15 p.m. for Shabbat.

Orange Room/Tapuzim

Monday through Friday, 8:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Extended Day hours in the Orange Room begin in January, when the children stay for lunch in school and the class is dismissed at 1:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Dismissal on Friday continues at 12:15 p.m. for Shabbat.

Turning Fours Class

Rainbow Room/Keshetot

Monday through Friday, 8:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Extended Day hours in the Rainbow Room, a turning 4s class, begin in October, when the children stay for lunch in school and the class is dismissed at 1:30 p.m. from Monday to Thursday. Dismissal on Friday continues at 12:15 p.m. for Shabbat.

Pre-kindergarten (4s/5s) Classes

Red Room/Tutim

8:45 a.m. – 2:15 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. on Friday (early dismissal for Shabbat)

Blue Room/Tzipporim

8:45 a.m. – 2:15 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. on Friday (early dismissal for Shabbat)

Our Spaces

In addition to our warm, inviting, and well-stocked classrooms, we have two beautiful outdoor play areas for our children, the Rooftop Playground and the Second Floor Terrace and Garden, as well as the Barbara Brooks School Library, an indoor Movement Room, and Beir Chapel, where we gather to celebrate Shabbat as a school community at our weekly Shabbat B’yachad, Shabbat Together.

Enrichment Programs

Music and Movement

Every week, all of our classes have Music with Shira Kobren, our talented and engaging music teacher, who plays her guitar and teaches children songs, rhymes, and finger plays that complement the curriculum in each class throughout the year, as well as songs about each of the Jewish holidays that we study and celebrate (Shira also leads Tot Shabbat services which are part of Central Synagogue’s Young Family Center); and Movement with Lance Windish, our movement specialist, whose enthusiasm inspires our children to move in joyful and creative ways and to develop age-appropriate awareness, coordination, and control over their bodies and their movements.


Professor Apple, our science teacher, enriches the science experience for our two Pre-Kindergarten classes with a weekly visit to each class. With Professor Apple as their guide, children learn what it means to be a scientist, as they explore the natural world, with highlights that include making erupting volcanoes, digging in the dirt for worms, studying rocks and learning how birds fly.


Pre-literacy is an integral part of our children’s experience in school every day. A visit to our school library, the Barbara Brooks Library, is a highlight of the week for all. Each class goes to the library every week to hear a story, after which the children look at books, and choose a book to check out. Our library is staffed by a dedicated group of parent volunteers who read to the children and collaborate with our teachers to integrate the library experience with our classroom curriculum. Our library program plays an important role in instilling a love for reading in our children, and it is a cozy and inviting place to visit.


Building with wooden unit blocks is a pivotal part of the preschool experience. When children build with blocks, they learn across a range of critically important subjects: language, literacy, social studies, math, and science. We are thrilled to have a gifted early childhood educator with great expertise in developing block curriculum, Jean Schreiber, who will be visiting our classrooms every month throughout the school year, building with teachers and children. She also will be giving an evening workshop for parents in the winter. Parents will have an opportunity to learn about the challenges that blocks present and the lessons they teach when they create their own block structures at this interactive workshop.


Our children have the opportunity to explore gardening and learn how plants grow in our Second Floor Terrace and Garden. Each class has its own garden plot, and throughout the year will plant seeds, nourish them, watch them grow, harvest and then eat their produce! This is a hands-on experience of tikkun olam as children learn one way in which they personally can care for the world by growing their own food and “eating local.”

Jewish Curriculum

Central Synagogue’s commitment to Jewish learning and values permeates daily life in the Nursery School. Jewish learning and exploration are a focal point of our curriculum and our children’s experiences in school. Our approach is three-fold. Children learn about Shabbat, the cycle of Jewish holidays throughout the year, and Jewish values, particularly tikkun olam, tzedakah, and g’milut chasadim.


Every Friday, the entire school comes together in Beir Chapel for Shabbat B’yachad, Shabbat Together. Led by a member of our clergy, the children welcome Shabbat as a community with song, prayer, and blessings, preceded or followed by individual celebrations in each classroom. Parents take turns coming to school to join in their children’s classroom Shabbat observance, and accompany their children to school-wide Shabbat on that day as well, a truly special Shabbat experience for parents and children alike.

Jewish Holidays

Our children learn about Jewish holidays through hands-on experiences that help bring them to life. Children learn the stories of the holidays and then can be found reenacting the stories in dramatic play, in the block corner, or even at the sand table. Books are read, holiday songs are sung, ritual objects and symbols of the holidays are explored, discussed, and recreated through engaging and age appropriate art projects. And of course, cooking is done in preparation for in-school celebrations. All of our teachers thoughtfully teach the children in their classes about their Jewish life in a dynamic, exciting, and authentic way.

In-school celebrations include a Chanukah party in each class, seders for both Tu BiSh’vat (a celebration of trees in Judaism) and Pesach, a Purim parade, and a fantasy trip to key sites in Israel for Yom HaAtzma-ut, Israel’s Independence Day, including the Western Wall, Eilat, and a pretend shuk (open-air market).

Jewish Values

Jewish values are at the core of our program. Children and families in the Nursery School participate in Central Synagogue’s tzedakah sandwich-making initiative for the homeless, taking part in the monthly rotation of volunteers within the synagogue who make and bag sandwiches.

Each class also collects money for tzedakah throughout the year, choosing three organizations that hold meaning for the children to which they make donations.

Through a creative and environmentally-sensitive approach to art, children learn the meaning of tikkun olam. “Beautiful Junk,” recyclable materials and found objects of all kinds, are collected by teachers, parents, children and Central Synagogue staff members for the children to use in their projects, sparking open-ended exploration and resulting in truly unique creations. As children engage in the process of collecting “beautiful junk,” they become aware of just how much we throw away, and begin to realize how effective repurposing materials can be in protecting the environment.

Children also learn about taking care of the environment through our gardening program, in which children plant seeds—often vegetables—and provide them with nourishment and care until they are ready to be harvested and eaten.

And of course, every day in every classroom we encourage children to treat their classmates and others with kindness, as they learn the meaning of g’milut chasadim, acts of loving kindness.

Through our rich Jewish curriculum, children embrace Judaism joyously and organically in a way that is very meaningful to them.

For Parents

Parents Association

We have a very active Parents Association (PA), comprised of a number of parent volunteers who give generously of their time and work tirelessly on behalf of our school. Led by two co-chairs each year, and assisted by Class Parents and a number of committee chairs, the PA plans and sponsors our annual Book Fair and annual Nursery School benefit, as well as collaborates with the NS staff on the publication of a school newsletter, assists in the admissions process as welcome ambassadors, and creates, markets, and sells Central Synagogue CentralWear, fun children’s clothing designed with our name or logo to promote school spirit, just to name a few of their many initiatives throughout the year. Becoming involved in the PA is a great way, not only to form friendships within the nursery school community, but also to spend time in the school and get to know the school better—maybe even to get a glimpse of your children during their school day. Along with committee chairs, the PA appoints Class Parents, tzedakah and library parents for each class every year.

Parent Workshops

Central Synagogue sponsors a number of workshops for parents throughout the year, including “Coffee Talks” with the director, at which a specific topic is covered and parents are invited to bring questions as well; exmissions workshops with the director; workshops on Jewish parenting issues given by senior members of the clergy and the director of Learning & Engagement; and workshops on school-related topics such as Block Curriculum and occupational therapy and speech and language development, given by special consultants to our school.

Our Teachers

Our Nursery School is staffed by a group of highly dedicated and creative educators who are passionate about early childhood and bring a wide range of experience, interests and special talents to their work with our children. All of our head teachers have master’s degrees in early childhood education, as do many of our associate and assistant teachers. Ongoing professional development is a priority for our school. Every year, our teachers participate in a number of workshops and conferences as we strive always to grow as a staff and bring cutting edge developments in early childhood education to our children.

In addition to our loving, gifted, and deeply committed classroom teachers, we are fortunate to have the expertise of specialist teachers and special consultants on our staff, including a music teacher, movement teacher, Professor Apple, the science teacher for our two Pre-Kindergarten classes, a block consultant who works with our teachers and children throughout the school year to enrich our block curriculum, and an occupational therapist, speech and language therapist, and school psychologist, who are valuable resources for both teachers and parents.

Learn more about our staff



Exmissions, the planning process for children when the time approaches for them to leave our school and go on to kindergarten, is a major priority for our school. During their time at Central, the director gets to know each child and family well, so that when the time comes to start planning the next steps in each child’s education, sound recommendations can be made. To kick-off the new exmissions season, the director holds an exmissions meeting each year in late February or early March, followed by individual meeting with parents that continue throughout the process into the following fall and winter until placement decisions are made. The ERB test, required by many independent schools in New York City as part of their admissions process, is administered at Central Synagogue in an effort to make the testing process as comfortable as possible for the children. Throughout it all, the director works closely with parents, advising them, supporting them, and helping them make decisions that are good ones for their children.


If you would like to apply to the Nursery School at Central Synagogue for the 2014–15 school year, please call (212) 838-5122 ext. 4003 to check the status of our waiting list as limited openings occur from time to time. Please note that the birth date cut-off for eligibility is September 30, 2012.