Ellen Dietrick

Temple Beth Shalom, Needham

"Ellen has done dozens of things for our family in this covid era but most recently she sent home an activity package for sukkot with a special (and simple) activity for each day. Usually we have a big sukkot party every year and it is well attended. Ellen didn’t point out that wouldn’t happen but the Sukkot package reminded me this is a special time of year that we acknowledge and celebrate. Rosh hashannah in the woods was also incredibly unique and special. My family loved it. So meaningful."
"If Ellen had been in charge of the pandemic response in the US, she would have saved thousands of lives. She did a remarkable job of creating a safe, fun, educational and loving environment for the kids. Ellen works tirelessly for these children and deserves recognition."
"She has done an unbelievable job running the child care center, managing to keep the operation running throughout the summer, organizing activities for the kids at home and on the weekends, and keeping the children and all of the families safe and happy!"
"Ellen is the super star of preschool directors. Through her tireless efforts she opened up right weeks of summer camp for our kids. She is now managing a thriving preschool and on top of that helped create a program for our elementary kids when they are not at public school and a TBS around town preschool program, for kids who could not physically come back this year. She is a hero to all the families!!!!"
"Ellen was able to envision and execute a early childhood program where was teachers were able to connect with their students, and these young students stayed connected to their peers and beloved teachers. The element of community is never lost of Ellen is involved in the planning- one of the keys to keeping our families safe, sane and connected."
"Ellen has done an exemplary job in managing the Temple Beth Shalom children's center during the pandemic and in organizing it so that it is safe for the children, while continuing to be a happy place here they can learn and grow."
"Ellen Dietrick has been an inspiration during Covid. She has changed the playground into 4 different sections, made the parking lots play space, and created classrooms in the front lawn of the building. She updated the HVAC system, hired more cleaners, and bought a high powered playground sanitizer. She changed the big sensory bins to single bins for each child. All of the kids and teachers/staff wear masks all day. The classes make daily visits to the local fields. She has turned the school into such a safe and welcoming environment. We are so proud she is our director!"
"Ellen reimagined the TBS preschool for Covid times. She did the impossible: reopened the school in June in a way that was safe, educational, and fun for our children. She had the vision to think about how schoolwide Shabbat could happen, and then executed it: all the classes sitting separately on tarps in the parking lot, the rabbi and cantor singing (mic’d) at the front, and so many huge smiles on our children’s faces."
"Ellen has kept the community extremely well connected during this difficult time. She has created events to bring us all together including car bingo, outdoor Shabbat on Fridays and outdoor weekend activities for families."
"Ellen creates a virtual curriculum featuring literacy and art And Jewish culture to provide the children’s center with enrichment starting the first day that schools were closed."
"She immediately got us on Zoom In March, and she started preparing the TBS Children’s Center for as soon as the kids could return. She switched out the filtration system in April. She made it safe for my girls to return this summer - and they had the best time. She continues to hold tot Shabbat (and last week we had Shabbat bingo) in socially distanced and safe ways, while creating new activities for our kids (a socially distanced Rosh Hashanah scavenger hunt). She is absolutely amazing."
"She is the director of the Early Childhood center. She helped make sure that even during COVId-19 the children would continue to feel connected to their school through a variety of activities (daily circle time by zoom, bedtime story time with the teachers by zoom, printing “flat teachers” (printouts with the avatars of the kids’ teachers) for children to take along for adventures, home challenges and more during the lockdown phase. She oversaw a transformation of the school so that over the summer, they were able to have children participate in sibling “pods” in the summer program to limit exposure, transforming the camp into almost entirely outdoors. Since the school year started, they have implemented excellent health protocols to make sure each class is safely isolated. The children wear masks without complaint because that is modeled so well. And even now, holiday celebrations are transformed into socially distanced events (eg a Rosh Hashana scavenger hunt at a local outdoor trail). Truly, she has put tremendous effort to co to us to make preschool safe and warm and welcoming and to maintain the sense of community. I feel very lucky that my children attend this preschool."
"She has worked tirelessly to create a safe, enriching and fun environment for our children to continue to go to school, and is always available to parents to address their questions and concerns."
"What hasn’t Ellen done! She pulled together daily zooms for each preschool class within days of quarantine in March, worked tirelessly to successfully re-open in summer and for the school year, and - perhaps most amazing - created new and vibrant ways for us to be a community safely. There were parking lot tailgates for Tot Shabbat, Rosh Hashanah scavenger hunts in the woods, and parent zoom happy hours. We are so incredibly lucky to have her – her leadership and skill in keeping school safely open is a critical pillar supporting hundreds of families."
"Ellen has always been and continues to be on it. She’s quick to respond to questions, has a plan, and is empathetic to all of my concerns. She took quick action during the shutdown to give the kids as much continuity as possible. Quickly changing to zoom, organizing supply bags to be dropped off at home, and providing thoughtful and engaging content beyond the children’s original class times."
"She is the director of the Early Childhood center. She helped make sure that even during COVId-19 the children would continue to feel connected to their school through a variety of activities (daily circle time by zoom, bedtime story time with the teachers by zoom, printing “flat teachers” (printouts with the avatars of the kids’ teachers) for children to take along for adventures, home challenges and more during the lockdown phase. She oversaw a transformation of the school so that over the summer, they were able to have children participate in sibling “pods” in the summer program to limit exposure, transforming the camp into almost entirely outdoors. Since the school year started, they have implemented excellent health protocols to make sure each class is safely isolated. The children wear masks without complaint because that is modeled so well. And even now, holiday celebrations are transformed into socially distanced events (eg a Rosh Hashana scavenger hunt at a local outdoor trail). Truly, she has put tremendous effort to co to us to make preschool safe and warm and welcoming and to maintain the sense of community. I feel very lucky that my children attend this preschool."
"Ellen does it all! She is amazing preschool director. She knows every child and is so responsive to each parent. She continues to run a wonderful preschool while following through on all Covid guidelines. She has been very creative with creating socially distant activities for families and sends home learning activities for kids to continue learning at home. Our kids are thriving in a world of chaos, thanks to her leadership!"
"Ellen has worked tirelessly around the clock to be sure the temple is as safe as possible for staff, students and parents by overhauling the HVAC system, obtaining PPE for all, creating outdoor classrooms and always coming up with ways to ensure safety from Covid at school. She’s the hardest worker I know and she loves what she does. We are all so thankful for Ellen!"
"Ellen Dietrick has been example of compassion, strength, understanding, perseverance and positivity during the pandemic. She always greets us with a smile and willingness to help. She opened her doors to our family this summer when our children were feeling lost. My son graduated a different preschool. He felt that things were left unfinished. He felt unsupported and needed the continuity of a warm preschool environment. Ellen’s organization, knowledge and warmth has helped my son get back on his feet. We signed him up for kindergarten after a great summer and have not looked back!"
"There is no way to adequately describe all Ellen has done over the last 6+ months- even in 1000 words. She pivoted on a dime to restructure the Children's Center in every way necessary- redesigning physical spaces, adding a full day Kindergarten program, shifting routines- all to allow for safe, in-person programming. The children and families at TBS are so lucky to have her- someone who thinks outside of the box, and doesn't shy away from the hard work needed to revision programming."
"Ellen has been a tremendous spiritual leader combining logistical savviness, creativity and incredible focus on safety and support for our children. She has run an unbelievably special preschool fusing Jewish tradition with universal love, education, and fun."
"In addition to tireless efforts during normal times and especially heightened during the pandemic, Ellen is literally always available to concerned parents of the TBS Children's Center to answer questions, work through concerns, and communicate the protocols of the center and the reasons why."
"Ellen has done so much! One example is putting together an outside tot Shabbat. During this service she organized singing, the story of how G-d created the world, stickers, glow stick candles, stuffed lulav and etrog, and mini challahs. My Daughter had a blast singing through the sunroof."
"Ellen has done everything possible to support early childhood education during the pandemic. She sets the standard for supporting families with your children during the COVID pandemic. She has the children’s safety and mental health in mind always and has enriched the lives of so many families. She goes way above and beyond and even had challah delivered to families weekly, sent supplies to the kids, did countless zooms, and continues to offer tremendous support."
"Ellen is an amazing preschool director! My 4 year old only had one day without preschool (zoom or in-person) during the whole pandemic. No one else I know can say that and Ellen made it all happen!"
"Ellen has worked tirelessly to meet with educators, epidemiologists, doctors, government/security officials, clergy, Temple staff, and administration to ensure that our community has a safe, fun, creative, and educational return to school for students, families, and teachers. Under Ellen’s leadership, Temple Beth Shalom has created a resilient community."
"Ellen has been an incredible leader in our temple community during this pandemic. She has brought creative ideas and solutions to help keep our community together and provide opportunities for our children to stay connected. She has put the safety of the children and staff as a priority but has also used new innovations and made revisions to old processes to help reopen the preschool during this pandemic. She has worked tirelessly for the temple community and preschool and we are forever grateful!"
"Ellen has done too many things to name during the pandemic, most notably adding 2 much-needed full-time all in-person kindergarten classes to pick up where public school has fallen short
Ellen's staff began remote teaching within days. She continued paying her teachers full salary until the end of the year. Ellen safely opened the summer program while most other schools did not and successfully reopened the preschool this September. Her leadership, responsiveness, and vision are second to none."
"Ellen went so far above and beyond to ensure all children were safe yet able to enjoy themselves, working well past all expectations to get the summer program up and running and continuing that into the fall school year. Amazing job!"
"Ellen has spearheaded programs for our young children, has kept them engaged and interested in learning and Jewish learning the entire time. She is innovative and imaginative and we strongly believe that if Ellen can't figure out a way to do it, it can't be done!"
"Ellen seamlessly transitioned the Children's Center, which enrolls 200 kids, to a remote experience back in March. She organized numerous activities to keep the children feeling connected to the Center - including delivery of challahs on Shabbat, Shabbat zooms, special guest Zooms, and delivery of activities to the childrens' homes. In a time where community was so critical, Ellen made sure we all felt connected.
She was able to keep the pre-school / kindergarten running throughout the summer and Fall. She has done great job of coming up with new ideas to keep the community engaged."
"She successfully transitioned to zooms in record time, came up with fresh ways to connect and build community, and re-opened the school safely when most others stayed closed. Her impact on the well-being of our kids and, by extension, hundreds of families, well...it's hard to put into words."
"Ellen amazingly stayed up with the ever changing protocols of opening and running a children’s center in the time of COVID. She successfully opened for camp in the summer and again in the fall. She kept pushing and adjusting and it’s been a great experience for the kids and parents."
"Ellen leads the children's center at TBS and has put in place a program that I feel far outstrips anything I have seen from other school systems (public or private) to protect the children and staff; while still retaining an engaging educational experience!"
"Ellen has made the temple feel safe for our youngest members (And their parents!), whether through her leadership in the children’s center, the sharing of stories at virtual or parking lot services, or by coordinating thoughtful, outdoor or remote ways to celebrate holidays."
"Ellen saved our family. That sounds extreme, but it’s true. She is the most dedicated, thoughtful, and committed Education Director I have ever known. We are so grateful to have her in our community. My girls were able to have a FUN and SAFE summer because of Ellen’s hard work. My best friend works for the Department of Early Education, and whenever I share stories about my kids’ experiences throughout the pandemic, she says “I think TBSCC is the best program in the state!” It’s true."
"Ellen is simply amazing. She kept the temple Preschool camp running over the summer, and transitioned into a smooth school year amid the time of a pandemic. She is extremely organized, caring, and determined. The safety of our children always comes first. She is outstanding at what she does. We all feel safe and happy sending our children to the TBS Preschool."
"From day one, Ellen was committed to ensuring that every Children's Center child and family was supported while at home (challah delivery on Fridays, special activity bags, extra arts sessions over zoom, weekly Shabbat sing alongs, ice cream trucks in the parking lot, etc.). At the same time she was working tirelessly to be ready to open the doors again, SAFELY, the moment the state allowed. And she did. Our son was able to return for summer with his friends and we never worried for a moment with Ellen in charge. She read every regulation, ordered all the supplies she needed so that she was ahead of the curve, had long conversations with individual parents--I do not know how she ever slept. We are so grateful to Ellen and the TBS leadership for being the glue that held us together in this challenging time.
I need 5000 words. Ellen was a model for not just MA, but the country. She drove the children's center to a safe and innovative in-person summer program, and continued her success to the school year. She coordinated "trunk shabbats" and "bike rodeos" to keep not just a semblance of normalcy for the children, but a true enlightening experience. I ask that you contact me so I am not limited by word counts. I am Ellen's biggest advocate."
"She has creatively maintained the warm, caring and fun environment of the Children's Center during the challenges of COVID."
"Ellen got zooms up and running in record time to continue learning and connection for our preschoolers. She arranged distances visits, activity care packages that kept us going. My son loved seeing his friends still over zoom every day all thanks to Ellen."
"With the start of quarantine she immediately got teachers and families up and running with zoom and innovative outreach to reach students and families including leaving signs and chalking at homes. She lead a mission to get kids back safely to school including building outdoor classrooms and using the parking lot for innovative activities. She has been amazing!"
"She has worked to create great outdoor learning space where children can explore and enjoy the outdoors while keeping them safe."
"She successfully transitioned to zooms in record time, came up with fresh ways to connect and build community, and re-opened the school safely when most others stayed closed. Her impact on the well-being of our kids and, by extension, hundreds of families, was a life saver during these challenging times."
"Ellen worked tirelessly to transition the school to online learning in March, inspire teachers to creatively engage and support young children, and foster and build community during this era. She brilliantly led the effort to open a summer camp safely, and then to open preschool in a way that makes families feel safe and provides a creative, fun, educational, and developmentally appropriate learning experience for young children. Her impact will be long-lasting and is truly extraordinary."
"Ellen gave us a community even though we were apart. Zooms, shabbat on Vimeo, story times, social distanced activities like bike rodeos, art supplies for the kids, daily activities, teacher check ins. Then seamless transitioned back to in person camp and school."
"Created a safe place for our children."
"Ellen has been wonderful in creating a virtual platform to unite members of TBS during a very difficult time. Via Zoom, Facebook and YouTube channels, Ellen has facilitated the community in supporting one another during dark times. We are so thankful!"
"Going above and beyond in creativity, problem solving, hard work and leadership to create a learning environment for our children."
"Ellen is beyond words, incredible, and is the reason my children and many other families have stayed connected to the temple. She goes out of her way to make sure everybody is involved and happy in a safe way, all while emphasizing togetherness and helping everyone around you. She was able to get whatever licenses, teachers, tools etc, that she needed in order to put together two kindergarten classes so that the children in last years pre k could continue consistent learning in a familiar and safe environment. She puts together multiple ways to stay connected to the Tbs community and Judaism in fun, tangible ways every week like shabbat bingo in the parking lot or scavenger hunts through local parks. Ellen is there to help and/or find others who can help in difficult and/or happy situations no matter how busy she is. She is always smiling and calm. She cares about and knows each and every individual child and family. She got zoom up and running for classes as if nothing had happened, sending activities and words of encouragement home through the mail. Ellen has an amazing staff, who she also makes sure is happy, surprising them with safe and fun staff exercises and lunches."
"Ellen went above and beyond to continue to make the school a place that brings our community together. She organized socially distance outdoor events including bike rodeos and high holiday scavenger hunts; and she made incredibly creative changes to the school environment to make it safe for all. She has held us together and held us up during this difficult time and we couldn't feel more grateful.
Ellen has single handedly enabled the TBS Children’s programs to run safely. She was early in replacing Hvac systems, created outdoor classrooms and engaged other schools for learnings. She continues to create special programming within and outside school hours to safely engage the community. Rosh Hashanah scavenger hunts, family pictures by the Sukkah, spread the love activities encouraging dropping off surprises on doorsteps - so many “extra” things that create a community. This list is only a fraction of the amazing work she does."
"She transformed the outdoor space of the temple to have outdoor classrooms built. She was reaching out to international counterparts to get ahead of how to open safely. We have never felt uncomfortable, even in the height of the pandemic. She segregated the kids to isolate any possible outbreak. She was able to safely open up camp and then school when the majority of schools in the area are remote learning. We are beyond grateful. Our child is happy and thriving. She set up outdoor Shabbat celebrations with the cantor and rabbi in the parking lot, sends home craft packets for holidays, held a sukkah building contest, car bingo and themed scavenger hunt to keep families engaged, the list goes on and on. Every week she comes up with fun new ideas. We are so lucky to have her! She is one in a million!"
"Worked tirelessly to ensure the kids have some sense of “normalicy” and community in TBS children’s center"
"Ellen has created an incredible community for families with young children during COVID-19. She organized a summer camp that made parents feel safe and more importantly kept our families safe and healthy. This fall, she was able to hire new teachers and open the preschool 5 days/week. We are all SO GRATEFUL for Ellen. She sends home a packet of holiday activities for the kids to do at home, like for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. Our kids were entertained at home by the activities and learned more about the holidays as we played. Also, Ellen has looked into the physical safety of the school and gotten a grant from Massachusetts government to add a safety short wall in front of the school (preventing a car from driving into people or the school) and to add another security camera. Ellen is always outside in the mornings and at pickup, speaking with parents and helping kids get from their car to their classroom. She worked tirelessly to find the right traffic route to get everyone safely from the parking lot to their classrooms, setting up sitting areas for the kids, a blockade to separate the kids from the cars, asking the city for police help for the first few days, and having a TBS staff member direct traffic every single day to increase safety. Ellen always goes above and beyond. We love Temple Beth Shalom and feel a real sense of community there, in large part because of how safe we feel during this pandemic with Ellen at the head of the school. I don't know what we would do without her."
"Ellen is an exceptional leader and visionary. Within a day of the Children’s Center building closing, Ellen arranged engaging, child centered online learning for both of our kids. Over the summer,
Ellen worked tirelessly to exceed safety standards and create a safe program for our son, taking the time to talk to us about changes we needed to make due to our schedules. We have been very impressed with and grateful for the extraordinary ways Ellen has met the challenges of this time."
"Ellen has created been able bring back Friday Shabbat as a community by repurposing the parking lot, created outdoor classrooms, created Tot Shabbat Friday’s in the trunk of your car through a temple radio channel, and family events that take place outdoors such a Sukkot Hike they ended with decorating pumpkins in place of our traditional gatherings. Ellen innovations have allowed our children to go back to school and bring back the community in person."
"Ellen has spent an incalculable amount of time and energy first on the summer program and now during the school year ensuring our kids have a safe,fun, loving and supportive environment to be “normal” during these crazy times."
"She made the preschool safe and available, both virtually and in person as soon as the government allowed, at every step of the way through the pandemic. She gave the children (and parents) a true community filled with fun and love every day."
"Aside for being one of the only communities to open up camp this summer to support both working parents and kids, Ellen has helped the preschoolers engage in the high holidays at home by creating holiday activity packets for each holiday this fall to be done at home since we cannot attend services. She also told amazing “sermons” (stories) during the zoom services for young children. They were appropriate, engaging, and meaningful for the holiday."
"Ellen is the head of our children’s center, which not only runs a wonderful preschool and “camp” but serves as a community hub for members of the congregation with young children to engage in Jewish learning as families. Not only did Ellen provide incredible remote learning experiences for our kids from March - June, she made “camp” possible by spearheading a reconceptualization of the physical space, creating outdoor classrooms, and implementing an array of safety and sanitary measures so comprehensive and well thought-out that a community of neurotic Jewish parents felt at ease sending our kids back to small group learning (mixed ages so siblings could stay together and minimize number of households interacting, so smart) in the midst of the pandemic."
"Ellen opened a full time, full day kindergarten for children, which offered a much needed alternative for 5-year-olds faced with starting kindergarten in person only 64 days this school year in Needham. Because if Ellen, we are so grateful our daughter is able to continue at Temple Beth Shalom in a loving and safe environment, where she can appropriately socialize with friends and teachers instead of spending her days in front of a screen."
"She has restructured the pre-school to allow it to open, set up high holiday web content, sends out weekly play activities. Tireless effort."
"We are truly at awe with Ellen's performance and TBS' community strength under her leadership, and are thrilled to nominate her for this recognition."
"It is in difficult times that true leadership is revealed. Turbulent conditions require a steady hand on the helm, and a clear voice to communicate strategy and instill confidence within a group. Delivering full transparency and extraordinary results within a hundreds of demanding parents (who in their own right are smart, accomplished and highly opinionated) is nearly impossible. However, Ellen has repeatedly and continuously impressed us in the management of perhaps the most chaotic times we have experienced. Put simply, she enabled our lives to continue and our kids to flourish and smile.
We hope the committee find her worthy of this recognition."
"Car Bingo for the preschool families to enjoy an activity together but safe!"
"Ellen consistently came up with creative ways to keep children and families engaged - including daily challenges, zoom havdala services, and zoom daily activities that she conducted. She has provided a sense of community and normalcy during these challenging times, and we are forever grateful!"
"Ellen goes above and beyond in everything she does. She was able to get the congregations child center back up and running in record time (starting end of June) to local and federal government standards. This has been a priceless improvement on our kids mental health and continued enrichment of the jewish culture."
"Ellen has gone above and beyond in this scary world of covid. She has made it her mission to ensure the safety of her students and her faculty. She has made all of the efforts in trying to get as much outside time as possible. This included making extra play spaces for the kids, building picnic benches for outside lunch, the list goes on. Ellen makes sure each kid fills out a health form before coming to school every day. In such a scary time Ellen makes the parents and kids feel as safe as Possible and a little less scared."
"She has so quickly and easily answered all of my concerns about how my child is going to be safe during covid. The protocols and safety measures she has put in place are incredible and she is so organized and amazing in such scary times."
"Ellen’s commitment to safely reopening the Children’s Center has been unparalleled. She recruited experts in infectious disease and epidemiology and has rebuilt the community with outdoor classrooms and updated HVAC and filtration systems, anticipating and following every protocol closely and creating a fun, safe, and comfortable environment for our kids and their teachers in a time when so many other schools have not. She is truly amazing and our children are incredibly lucky to have her on their team."
"Ellen is absolutely amazing. As the director of the TBS preschool she kept our kids engaged and a part of their classrooms even after everything abruptly shut down. She had zoom circle times up and running the very next day after things closed, came up with wonderful activities for the kids to do virtually and was able to make camp happen this summer and open the preschool safely this fall. She is a true leader and deserves all the praise and recognition for what she has done for our kids in absolutely crazy times."
"Ellen puts her love of children and community into her work with Temple Beth Shalom Children's Center and it’s shows every day. She has worked to keep our children and our families safe and happy. She quickly pivoted in March to provide engaging virtual education, community, and entertainment for preschool age children which is very difficult! She has kept the children’s center running so smoothly I am in awe and constantly praising how amazing she and TBSCC are. My kids are so happy and I’m so thankful!"
"She put every single effort to open summer camp for the kids, all kids needed to see their friends and made them all feel that there was always a safe space for them. Since the beginning, she did all research and also organized outdoor activities with safe distance for families to connect. Her remote programs and support at the beginning was also spectacular!"
"She successfully transitioned our children’s center to zoom learning and activities in record time, came up with fresh ways to connect and build community, and re-opened the school safely when most others stayed closed. Her impact on the well-being of our kids and, by extension, hundreds of families, has been incredible."
"The pre-school at TBS is know for its warm and welcoming community - it feels like one big family and when you are there, it feels like "home." Ellen made sure to continue this feeling all throughout Covid, despite the children not being able to attend in person. There was still Challah delivery on Fridays, Shabbat on Zoom, Holidays on Zoom, activities sent home for the children and even events for the adults like a Challah baking Zoom class. She made sure that each of us continued to feel connected during such a lonely time. Additionally, she continued to reach out to each of us to check in, say hi or a Shabbat Shalom. I was so impressed."
"Ellen has done so much for the community, especially the young children! She organized fabulous high-holiday services full of music, stories & prayers featuring familiar faces around TBS. She also created activity kids full of crafts and activities for the children, and created outdoor scavenger hunts for family fun."

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