“Hey Neighbor!” At Home and in ECE with the Spanglers and McCoys

What would you do if a tree fell on the fence between your yard and your neighbor’s? Some neighbors might get contentious, but the Spanglers and McCoys saw it as an opportunity. After cleanup was complete, Will Spangler built a gate between the backyards so the two families’ four boys, who are all very close in age, would be able to play together for years to come.

“It was really longer-view. For now we’ve only opened up the gate a few times to let the older boys play (our dogs probably wouldn’t get along, so we need to make sure they stay inside), but in a few years, all four of these kids will be running around playing like crazy,” Grant McCoy said.

The tree that fell on the fence between the Spanglers’ and McCoys’ yards


While the families knew each other as neighbors before they were both part of JCC Early Childhood Education, or ECE (it was actually the McCoys’ praises plus a few other factors that led the Spanglers to join the program), being in close proximity to each other both at home and at school has definitely augmented the boys’ friendships. “When we come home from school in our cars, [the kids] can see each other and they know the other group is home, so there’s lots of post-ECE meetups in the front yard. They get very excited – we’ll pass them in the hallway and they holler at each other. It’s really fun,” Andrea McCoy said.

The Spanglers love the convenience of ECE (they live very, very close by) but were also spurred to join the program by personal references. “It just seemed like [the McCoys] were happy. The consistency of the teachers and the education really drew us there. Plus, Will’s mom Pam is a longtime JCC Aquajoints teacher, so she vouched for it, and it’s a joy for her to be able to see her grandsons regularly,” Val Spangler said.


Pam Spangler doesn’t even have to walk down the ECE hallway to see her grandsons, because ECE classes take advantage of the full JCC facility. “I love that they go to the gym, they walk around the track, they have different playgrounds to go to, they go to the pool. I like that they have all those spaces and opportunities and aren’t in one room all day,” Andrea said.

ECE’s built-in swim lessons are a huge plus for Val, too. “I love that my kids are getting exposed to water; I don’t know of any other preschool that has swimming lessons embedded in the curriculum. That means on our trips to Florida, wherever we’re going to go, I feel more comfortable saying, ‘Yes, we can go to the pool; yes, I have confidence that they’ll be okay,'” she said.

The McCoys have been part of the ECE program for about four and a half years, so have seen it through some ups and downs. “They went through right-sizing the program – for us, it’s always been, as long as the core teachers are being taken care of, appreciated and compensated, that’s what matters, and it feels like that’s how they’re growing, doing it right,” Grant said. He also appreciates the JCC’s approach to security: “Every time I get a survey from the J, I always stress there’s nothing safety-wise you can do that I’ll ever say no about (including scanning in with a member fob upon drop-off and pick-up). We like the approach and how they do things. Harris gives the police officer a high-five every morning!”

A fallen tree may not seem like a net positive at first, but it’s safe to say the Spanglers and McCoys are now bonded for life, as neighbors and friends, through ECE and beyond.