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From Preschool to Lifelong Friends

March 25, 2024
Stacey's personal blog post header image

By Stacey Needle, Assistant Marketing Director, Youth & Families

When you become a new parent there is often a time of initial struggles, wondering who you can connect and bond with over your parenting questions and concerns. You want to find someone you and your new baby can relate to and share thoughts and ideas. I never expected for my journey to include lifelong best friends for not only myself but my child and entire family.

The JCC of Greater Baltimore has always been a part of my life from a very young age. My mother was a teacher in the preschool, and I attended classes as a young child (gymnastics, ballet, and even piano). I was a Milldale camper and then a TNT counselor, even participated in theatrical performances at both JCC locations (including starring roles in Anne Frank and Snow White). My life took me away from Baltimore for a time, but I returned when my older son was 6 months old.

Not knowing anyone locally with a child the same age, I began attending Baby & Me classes at the J. I started as a participant and then ended up as an instructor. I had such positive life experiences at the JCC that when it came time to find a preschool for my child, I knew without a doubt that I would send them to the JCC.

I watched my child thrive in the preschool program. His knowledge continued to grow every day and his personality blossomed. He enjoyed his time there and friendships were formed. Not only for him but for me as well.

There’s something to be said for walking into a preschool, waiting in the hall to pick up your child. As a parent you have that extra time to contemplate your schedule for the remainder of the day, or perhaps to scroll on your phone. Instead, when you find a parent who you begin to talk to daily outside that classroom door, who has a child the same age, you find yourselves chatting up a storm, which then leads to finding days to go for lunches and having extended playdates.

And if you are lucky enough that child and family become your best friends (for both mom and child), and you go through milestones, celebrations, travel, and even personal hardships together. When I think back to the JCC preschool days of my children, not only am I filled with wonderful memories of a caring and nurturing environment, but I’m thankful as that experience truly brought an extended family into my life, that I remain friends with to this day. I am beyond grateful to the JCC preschool program which is still benefiting our family 20 years later.

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