Jane Tuv was a successful journalist working for Forbes and freelancing for personal finance and real estate magazines, but she quickly realized her passions lay elsewhere. “It was the time of blogging and little fact-checking, and people didn’t care about news content so much as they did about page views,” said Tuv, who grew up in Soviet Ukraine and came to the U.S. at eight years old. When she got a job offer working at Pushkin Academy for Russian Heritage, a Russian-language nursery school in Manhattan, she took it—and a new professional dream was born. “I felt much more wholesome working with children than I did as a journalist, and I was able to have a real voice in the curriculum right away,” she explained.

Parents quickly took to Tuv’s innovative teaching methods: Tuv is a staunch advocate of progressive education, in which children take individual approaches to learning and learn primarily through play.

“Through the job at Pushkin, I developed a drive to change the system and show there’s another way to learn,” said Tuv, who went on to pursue a Master’s degree in early childhood education from Bank Street College and got a job at JCC Manhattan’s Generation R. There, she worked with Russian-speaking children and learned about Jewish traditions alongside her young charges. “Like many Jews who grew up in Ukraine, my family practiced some Jewish traditions but didn’t know their origins,” explained Tuv. “It was an amazing experience to explore and discover answers about Judaism together with my students, and they helped inspire my own growing curiosity about my heritage.”

Currently, Tuv is the JCC’s director of programs for Russian-speaking children and families at Generation R. She also founded the Arlekino Theater Troupe, a performing and fine arts program for Russian-speaking children under 7, thanks to a COJECO BluePrint Fellowship. Arlekino merges Tuv’s dual passion for the arts and experiential education.

“The arts can be languages in which children learn and thrive,” said Tuv. “For children, theater is a vehicle to play out real-life scenarios and allows them to take on roles, problem solve and collaborate. Through theater, we also learn life skills and test out identities, and get the chance to be emotionally vulnerable and freely self-express.”

Tuv lives in Queens with her partner, Dmitry, and their daughter Lila, 14 months.

Lyrical lips: Tuv can play what sounds like a French horn with her lips.

www.jccmanhattan.org/GenerationR

www.facebook.com/ArlekinoTheater