Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel
432 Scotland Road
South Orange, NJ 07079
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Release Date: Thursday, February 26, 2015
Media Contact: Caryl Bixon-Gordon (201) 796-7788
Synagogue Members, Preschool Families Past and Present Will Fete Carol Paster of West Orange on March 13
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J., Feb. 26, 2015 – Carol Paster, a resident of West Orange, has been making a difference in the lives of youngsters for 25 years at the Iris Family Center for Early Childhood Education, the community preschool at Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel (TSTI) in South Orange. On Friday, March 13, the community will turn out to celebrate and honor Paster for bringing innovation and high-quality preschool education to thousands of area children. Immediately following the 6 p.m. Shabbat service, the synagogue will host a champagne oneg Shabbat with appetizers and dessert. The entire TSTI community as well as families whose children have attended the preschool, former teachers and preschool board members are welcome to attend.
Paster began her relationship with TSTI first as a congregant, and her career at The Iris Family Center soon followed. As an early childhood education professional, she taught several classes for six years, then replaced the director in 1998 when that position became vacant.
Event coordinator Judy Epstein was the preschool board chair when Paster was hired as its director. "Carol is one of the most incredible thinkers," said Epstein. "She came in to that job interview with a billion ideas, one better than the next. Her vision for our preschool is remarkable."
Rabbi Ellie Miller echoed the sentiment, with praise for Paster's individualized, nurturing approach to each and every student and their families. "Carol cares about everyone and everything so deeply, helping preschool families and our TSTI family celebrate the great times, but also supporting through the difficult times," said Miller. "She creates such a welcoming atmosphere that everyone wants to be a part of what's going on in the preschool."
Over the years, Paster has developed a highly regarded program that promotes an inclusive environment and a play-based, personalized curriculum that offers children ample opportunities to explore, experiment, and in Paster's words, "enjoy the freedom to dream, wonder, and create their own concepts." She has initiated many innovations in early childhood education, including the recently completed NatureScape, an outdoor classroom and play space utilizing natural elements that she dreamed about for years – and worked tirelessly to bring to fruition.
"We have evolved over the years to meet our families' changing needs, as well as to address the ways technology is altering our children's worlds and how students learn," said Paster. "We plan the curriculum around what our students are interested in, to keep all children engaged and participating in their own way." She is currently involved in the Matan Institute's Program for Directors, an initiative to guide congregational schools in better meeting the needs of those with learning challenges, in order to serve a more diverse student population.
"Carol sees the world through the children's eyes, and empowers and enables them in a positive and loving way," said Rabbi Daniel Cohen. "She truly lives out her personal values and Jewish values every day. The impact she has had on both our congregation and our community is immeasurable. Carol is a true gem and I look forward to working with her for years to come."
Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel is a vibrant Reform congregation located at 432 Scotland Road in South Orange, N.J., that offers Jewish preschool, religious school, teen programs, lifelong learning for adults, and a full complement of religious services and cultural programs each month. TSTI serves member families from Maplewood, the Oranges, Livingston, Millburn, Short Hills and surrounding areas. For more information, visit http://www.tsti.org/.