Philadelphia companies who do business in China could have a new source for translators who speak Mandarin. Just one thing though: they may have to wait 20 years.
Early Learning at Beth Sholom Congregation will begin teaching Mandarin to children ages 3 to 5 next fall.
“People who are in business are seeing Mandarin as the language of tomorrow,” said Eileen Weingram, director of the Elkins Park preschool, which already offers Hebrew instruction. “We’re teaching our children to navigate the world, and exposing them to Mandarin” will help them do that.
The school, which has traditional and Montessori classrooms, will also begin offering tuition incentive grants that cover 40 percent of the cost of the school, up to $4,000 per year if the child attends full-time. The grants will be available to any family, regardless of need.
The language instruction, grants and training for all teachers to become fully certified in the Montessori method is being funded by donors Stefan and Elizabeth Brodie in an effort to help the school grow.
There has been increasing support in the Jewish world for the idea that preschools can have a significant impact on building a strong Jewish identify in children. Last year, the leaders of Jewish Federations of North America called for raising $1 billion over the next decade to fund tuition-free preschool for every Jewish family in the United States.
Weingram said she sees the local donors as providing an important resource to the community.
“So many times when young Jewish families come in for the preschool interview and tour the building,” she said, “we realize that they are really stuggling financially to give their children an education that is going to have a deeply Jewish affect on them.”