Carly Schwartz is a Miami, Florida, native but currently lives in Lutherville with her husband Michael, 40, and two children Samuel, 7, and Libby, 4. The 38-year-old graduated from University of Florida majoring in Jewish Studies. After that, she attended Brandeis University for an Masters in Jewish Communal Services and an MBA in Non-Profit Management. Currently, Carly is the senior director of J Early Childhood at both the Owings Mills and Park Heights locations. Carly’s hobbies include reading books, going to the pool, watching movies and spending time with her family.
What does a day on the job entail?
The JCC has two different early childhood programs. We have one in Owings Mills and one in Park Heights. I was running the Park Heights location for the past three years. We brought in a consultant and it was advised that our schools were very different from each other, that they didn’t feel or look the same. So they decided to create my position. My goal is to streamline the practices at both schools to assure that they’re having the same experiences. Our schools are now working closely together to assure the programs are really unique and the same in representing our brand.
What was your fellowship in Italy and Israel like?
It’s actually a three year fellowship at Sheva Center Leadership Institute. Sheva is the JCC Association early childhood framework. They have a fellowship that I was accepted into exactly a year ago. It’s with 30 early childhood professionals from North America. They can either be teachers or administrators. We get together at different retreats to really study early childhood through Jewish lenses and best practices. We’ve been to Buffalo, New York, Boulder, Colorado, Portland, Oregon. We went to Israel; in November we’re going to Reggio Emilia, Italy. We still have two more years of fellowship. It’s eight retreats in total and it’s been an incredible experience because I am learning from experts in the field and I am doing it alongside people who are just as passionate as I am about early childhood. It’s been amazing.
Did you have a Jewish upbringing?
Yes, I actually did. I was raised in a conservative home. My mom has a Jewish soul and made sure my sisters and I had a love for Judaism. It’s played out in different ways as we’ve gotten older. It resonated with me. I work in the Jewish community and my son goes to Jewish day school. All of us are pretty connected to the Jewish community. My parents made sure I did BBYO; that I went to a Jewish overnight camp; that I went to Israel as a high school student; that I attended Hebrew school. She really laid the groundwork to make sure I had a strong Jewish background that I can now tap into later in life.
What’s your favorite holiday?
I would say Passover. It was always my favorite growing up because we did it with our family friends. It was a really loud, fun, engaging experience. I always just loved the holiday. It is now my son’s favorite holiday. It has nothing to do with me; he is just obsessed with Passover. We listen to Passover music in the car for months and months and months. He could tell you the whole story. It’s been really cool to see how that plays out in the next generation.
How has being Jewish impacted your job?
I think it has impacted the greater community that I have worked with. There are a lot of choices for preschools for families, and when a family chooses a Jewish preschool, no matter what their background is, they could be completely unaffiliated, but they’re choosing a Jewish preschool for a reason. I think it’s really important to be able to meet each family where they are Jewishly, and to ensure that the experience their children are having is authentic to their family.