Ellen Carpenter talks to children during "Welcoming the Shabbath” in front of a mock Western Wall in Jerusalem during the SJCC annual “Israel Trip,” which transforms classrooms into various scenes from the country.
SCHENECTADY COUNTY Over the last 32 years, one woman touched the lives of hundreds of children and left a lasting imprint on early childhood education at the Schenectady Jewish Community Center.
The Parent Teacher Organization at the SJCC organized a retirement celebration for Ellen Carpenter, of Schenectady, who taught youngsters for more than three decades. Carpenter retired in September and while there were a few internal events held in her honor, parents wanted to have an event open to current and former students, along with their parents.
Carpenter said it was “very gratifying” and humbling to be celebrated at the event, which was held Wednesday, Nov. 7, at the center’s Golub Auditorium.
“I have a lot of memories of the children and working with them and watching them grow,” Carpenter said. “It is very rewarding to know that people remember me and they have memories of preschool.”
In the early 1970s, Carpenter started as an assistant teacher in the 3-year-olds classroom. She left for a few years after she became pregnant before returning to teach in the mid-’80s. Then when an opening came to lead the program, she stepped up.
Mark Weintraub, executive director of SJCC, is going into his fourth year in his position and he got to know Carpenter during the last three years of her career. He credited her with the program’s growth and success.
When the early childhood education started being offered it was only taught in two classrooms, but the program has grown to include a whole wing of the center with several classrooms serving around 115 children daily. Overall, Weintraub said the SJCC is the largest childcare provider in the county.
There is also an after school enrichment program for elementary and middle school students that Carpenter helped establish. The overall program reaches around 300 children daily, Weintraub said.