Mission & Philosophy

NS About Us PicAt Temple Sinai Nursery School (TSNS), we believe in nurturing the individuality of each child. We see children as competent individuals who flourish in a joyful early childhood setting that encourages freedom of expression, focuses on building strong social-emotional skills, and promotes self-confidence through active hands-on learning. The philosophy of TSNS is based on the theories of Piaget, Vygotsky, Erikson, Gardner, the Bank Street Model, and constructivist education. We are also inspired by the philosophy of the Reggio Emilia Schools in Italy. Our program is imbued with Jewish values that emphasize and promote kindness (g’milut chasadim), doing good deeds (mitzvot) and taking care of our world (tikkun olam).

We believe that play is the primary vehicle through which learning progresses in the early years. Sensitivity to the needs of parents of young children always underpins our efforts. In addition to providing an excellent developmentally appropriate early childhood curriculum, we take pride in being a part of the larger Temple Sinai community and helping parents foster a positive sense of Jewish identity in their children. A warm and welcoming parent community is at the heart of our program; parents are involved in the daily life of the program and take leadership roles at the Nursery School. The Parents’ Association plans and supports several family and school-wide events each year such as the Family Fall Festival, the annual Winter Family Concert, the school-wide Chanukah Celebration and Model Seder, and the annual Spring Auction.

Child DirtThis program maintains the highest standards of early childhood education. We have achieved accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and we are a Partnership for Jewish Life & Learning Commended School. Small classes, and a physical environment that includes a kitchen designed specifically for children and teachers to cook, gardens, motor room, outdoor classroom, and “investigation room” where children have hands-on experiences with science and art, complement our core program. Every morning, we welcome children into our extended playground that sets the stage for imaginative play and physical development, with its bike path, sand area, climbing equipment, and exploration gardens.

 “The city school with the country playground”


Every year at our Parents’ Evening we share the philosophy of our school and gather with teachers in each child’s classroom space.  Click on the video below to see a portion of a presentation from a previous Parents’ Evening.


About Our Faculty

The Nursery School enjoys long term relationships with its faculty, a third of which has master’s degrees or higher in the field. Our teachers gently guide and facilitate learning, employing our nurturing “language of early childhood” to support a range of developmental needs.  We are committed to taking each individual child into consideration. Nursery School faculty also engages in an extensive amount of professional development on an ongoing basis. As a model early childhood education program, we share our expertise in our field with other early childhood educators through school tours and presentations at the annual NAEYC Conference. In addition, consultants in the areas of motor, speech, behavior, health and social work provide guidance to faculty and families on site.

About our Director of Early Childhood Education

Ali Hurewitz has been a part of the Temple Sinai Nursery School community for over 18 years, joining the program as a parent and eventually becoming credentialed as a teacher.  After teaching for six years, she left the classroom to work closely with TSNS leadership on special projects and teacher support, while also working as a mentor for early childhood teaching fellows through the Center for Inspired Teaching.  Ali, who graduated with a degree in English from Haverford College, is also a former labor and employment attorney who earned her J.D. cum laude from The Georgetown University Law Center.  She then returned to school to earn her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Leadership from the Bank Street Graduate School of Education in New York City, and wrote her thesis on the ways classroom documentation through the lens of the Reggio Emilia Approach supports children’s learning, educator growth, and community engagement.

Actively involved in guiding the school through its most recent National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accreditation process, Ali believes in the importance of staying abreast of and meeting the highest standards of excellence for early childhood practice; she attends annual NAEYC Conferences and varied conference programming on topics of interest around the country and online, and presented with TSNS colleagues at the NAEYC Conference in 2013.  Ali has also participated in numerous Reggio Emilia symposia as well as a Study Tour in Reggio Emilia, Italy.  She strongly supports ongoing professional development and offering opportunities for learning to all members of the TSNS community, and is a credentialed Trainer with the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education.  Ali is also committed to the hiring and retention of talented teachers, and seeks out early childhood educators who are aligned with our program’s values around experiential relationship-based learning and scaffolding social-emotional development in these magical early years. Ali’s professional memberships include NAEYC, the DC Directors’ Exchange, the DC Area Jewish Early Childhood Directors’ Council, Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism, and the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA).

When not working, Ali enjoys time with her family, which includes her husband, two children who are TSNS graduates (now in college!), and Ozzie, her labradoodle.  She is a voracious reader, a hobby crafter, and loves decorating cakes, cupcakes, and cookies, especially for TSNS celebrations.

About Our Director Emerita

Perri and GirlPerri Iger-Silversmith is the founding Director of Temple Sinai Nursery School, and is credited with setting the vision for the program for nearly thirty years, anchoring TSNS in the belief that strong social-emotional foundations best prepare children for life and future educational experiences.   She has worked in public school, private nursery school, and Judaic settings for many decades. Perri is a magna cum laude graduate of Boston College, where she received her BA in Special and Elementary Education, and she earned her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Human Development from The George Washington University.  Since Perri established the program in 1992, TSNS achieved accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) five times.  Perri also led TSNS through a similar accreditation process through the Partnership for Jewish Life & Learning called the “Community Program in Jewish Education for Early Childhood Centers.”  Under Perri’s leadership, TSNS garnered its unparalleled reputation for excellence in early childhood education.

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