South Charlotte

Three Jewish schools unite to raise money

About a year ago, "conversations across the parking lot" - as Elka Bernstein, director of Charlotte Jewish Preschool, calls them - are what started a unique partnership called Joined in Education.

Joined in Education is a nonprofit organization formed by three educational entities: the Charlotte Jewish Preschool, Charlotte Jewish Day School and the Jewish Preschool. The CJP and CJDS campuses are across from each other at Shalom Park; JPS is on Sardis Road.

JIE was created to strive for excellence in Jewish education while eliminating the need for three separate school fundraisers.

Historically, the three schools held large annual fundraisers that often overlapped volunteers, donors and participants.

"It was not a good, efficient use of resources," said Mariashi Groner, 51, director of Charlotte Jewish Day School.

After a series of meetings among directors and presidents, the three schools decided to team up to form Joined in Education.

"We might have different philosophies, but we can work together for a common goal," said Bernstein, 49.

For JIE to work, organizers had to come up with a way to raise more than $70,000.

Alison Lerner, past president of CJDS, suggested inviting Dr. Wendy Mogel to Charlotte.

"Wendy Mogel is a world-renowned child advocate and psychologist who uses Jewish values that the educational community has recognized," said Bernstein. "Using concepts in the Torah, she has connected with people outside of the Jewish faith."

The idea of having Mogel speak to parents and educators resonated with the JIE leaders, so Gale Osborne, 52, director of advancement for CJDS, booked her.

Mogel has published two books: "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee" and "The Blessing of a B minus."

"Skinned Knee" is a bestselling guide to raising "self-reliant, compassionate, and ethical children." "B-minus" is a book for parents who want to learn how to help their teenagers become "resilient and optimistic adults," according to Mogel's own website.

"Wendy Mogel is a voice of reason for parents and a voice of support for teachers," said Groner.

On Jan. 11-12, parents and teachers will have the chance to spend "2 days with Dr. Wendy Mogel" as she shares her insights combining Jewish teachings, experience and psychological research.

There are four events planned at various prices: the "Pre-Reception" and "The Big Talk" will be at Knight Theater. Cost is $250 per person and $36 per person, respectively.

"Wendy Mogel: 'Coffee talk unplugged' for Parents" and the "Teacher Workshop" both will be at the Levine Jewish Community Center, costing $100 per person and $125 per person, respectively. There is a waiting list for "The Big Talk."

Charlotte Latin, Providence Day School and Charlotte Country Day School have purchased large blocks of tickets. Mogel has spoken at Charlotte Latin before, and every new Charlotte Latin family receives "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee."

Some parents have pooled resources to send their children's teachers to the workshop. Moms' groups, book clubs and church groups also have shown interest, according to Osborne.

A bond has formed between the three schools that was recognized by a larger body: RAVSAK, an organization for Jewish Community Day Schools in North America.

"RAVSAK gave JIE kudos for encouraging the community to come together to raise funds to support Jewish education," said Osborne.