Demonstration SiteThe South Carolina Program for Infant/Toddler Care has selected Cutler Jewish Day School in Columbia, S.C., as its first Demonstration Site.

To celebrate the designation and to participate in a groundbreaking ceremony for an expansion at the school, Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Columbia, was the featured speaker at CJDS on May 27, 2014.

The event included speakers from the school, SCPITC and Beth Shalom Synagogue and also had a musical performance from the CJDS students, door prizes and photo opportunities with ceremonial hard hats and shovels. The public was invited to attend the event at 5827 Trenholm Road.

The new construction at CJDS will include classrooms for infants and toddlers, a parent resource room and a place for breastfeeding mothers.

“CJDS provides the kind of nurturing environment that helps children develop into self-assured, inquisitive, caring citizens,” said Kerrie Schnake, director of SCPITC. “As the first SCPITC Demonstration Site, they can help show others what this kind of care looks like in action.”

SCPITC is a statewide program that educates child care providers about the best ways to support early learning and healthy development in infants and toddlers. SCPITC has a statewide network of infant and toddler specialists, supported by the S.C. Department of Social Services, who provide free training and coaching to child care providers at their care locations.

“The leaders of the CJDS are truly visionaries,” Schnake said. “They believe unquestionably in the value of creating an environment that puts relationships at the center of young children’s learning and development. Their enthusiasm for sharing their experiences and approaches to care and education make them ideal partners for our first ever SCPITC Demonstration Site.”

SCPITC’s philosophy for child care providers advocates assigning one person as a primary caregiver for a child, having small groups, being responsive to children’s different needs, being sensitive to a child’s culture and including children with special needs.

As a Demonstration Site for SCPITC, Cutler Jewish Day School has fully embraced the SCPITC approach to child care and their teachers serve to demonstrate these practices to other child care professionals. CJDS allows child care professionals and parents to see the SCPITC philosophy in action.

“All children deserve the kind of respect, tenderness and appreciation that the teachers of the CJDS demonstrate. These teachers clearly embrace the joy of fostering children’s exploration of this world that is new to them,” Schnake said.

Rabbi Meir Muller, principal of CJDS, said the school is proud of its partnership with SCPITC.

“CJDS has grown tremendously through the PITC accreditation process,” Muller said. “The school feels the PITC process is one of ‘mirrors and windows.’ Through PITC guidance, we reflected on who we are as a school, which facilitated us to ‘look out the window’ and adapt ways to better serve our youngest students.”

At the event, representatives from the Beth Shalom Synagogue and Cutler Jewish Day School will officially announce the signing of a long-term lease for the land and the formal announcement of the school’s name from Columbia Jewish Day School to Cutler Jewish Day School.

Joni Cutler, along with her husband, the late Shep Cutler, donated $ 1 million to the school. She will be honored in the ground-breaking ceremony for the new Cutler Jewish Day School expansion.

Sen. Joel Lourie has been a long-time advocate of education in general and the Jewish Day School in particular. His wife, Rebecca, teaches kindergarten at CJDS, his children attended the school and his father, the late Sen. Isidor Lourie, served as an advisor when the school was founded 22 years ago.