(Published Aug 5, 2021) By: Elliott Mills
The Jewish Community Center at 6701 Hoover Rd. has been my home for over forty years. It was my first introduction to what a school setting was as I attended its Early Childhood Center in the early 80’s. The JCC was where I, along with my two younger brothers, first played organized sports like basketball, soccer, and swimming on the swim team. The three of us each had our first job as young teenagers refereeing youth soccer for then-Sports Director Rod Hofts and each returned in the late 90’s and early 2000’s while on winter breaks in college to work the desk at the newly renovated fitness facility. Yes, the JCC on Hoover Rd. has been my home.
As my life continued to include the completion of my college education and my marriage to my lovely wife, Erin, I had no idea that my path would circle back through to the JCC ECE. In 2005 Erin Mills began teaching Prekindergarten at the JCC and I would come pick her up after working down the street at Fox Hill Elementary in Washington Township. Seeing what Mrs. Mills was able to do with her young students was very impressive to me as an educator and as a husband. At the end of that school year the other Prekindergarten classroom lead position opened after the retirement of longtime teacher, Shanta Reddy, and Erin and I decided to do something different. We, as a newly married couple of only two years, team taught over thirty students in our two classrooms for the next two years. Years later we had two sons just over a year apart and I was able to have each of them in my classroom while Erin has been able to grow and take leadership positions benefiting children of all ages. For five years the four of us drove to and from “school” each day. The Indianapolis JCC provided this unique opportunity for us.
Over the past fifteen years I’ve continued my work teaching Prekindergarten, mentoring hundreds of young people, creating memorable annual events, and furthering my abilities to positively make an impact on children. Throughout this time in my classroom I’ve had the blessing of working with co-teachers like Linda Cadore, Barb Zukerman, the late Maria Kolotinskaya, Beth Grimm, Paula Brentz, Hanna Fellinger, and most recently Caroline Prittie. Each one of these ladies has helped support me and make any wild idea that I came up with come to fruition in nothing less but a successful manner. Events such as Dinosaur Digs, Spring Sings, Hanukkah programs, Mini-Marathons, annual year-end “Camping Nights,” Morning Glory seed FUNdraisers, Indy 500 Distance Car Races, along with countless Student Art Shows wouldn’t have been possible without any of them or Erin Mills, Erica Johnson, and Abigail Sweeney. Many times I know I was given total credit simply because I was “the tallest actor in the room.”
In 2008 I was asked to return to my alma mater of North Central High School by my former teacher and soccer coach, Jerry Little, to assist with the youngest NC boy’s soccer team. I have continued this passion in working with young athletes ever since and was recently named Head Varsity Coach upon Coach Little’s retirement of forty years. This unique opportunity, in addition to already having taught my own two boys (and two nephews) at such an important age in early development, has opened a new door of employment and encouraged me to take the next step in my life path.
Thank you, JCC on Hoover Rd., for everything you’ve done for me. I’m glad you will continue to be there.
JCC ECE graduate and Prekindergarten teacher
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”
Pablo Picasso, artist/designer
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, transcendental philosopher
“You can’t score a goal if you don’t take a shot.”
Johan Cruyff, Dutch soccer legend