Tag Archives: Jordan Schur

3, 4 Close The Door

Like many Westporters, Jordan and Karen Schur were happy to join the 3, 4 Open the Door family.

The Wilton Road preschool had a great reputation. Since opening in 1994, owner Cyndi Zeoli created a warm, welcoming environment, with a creative curriculum, low student/teacher ratios, and a stable, caring staff.

The Schurs’ son and daughter were happy. Jordan spread the word; several friends enrolled their own kids there.

3, 4 Open the Door (Photo courtesy of Yelp)

On May 12, Zeoli invited every family to an important meeting 4 days later. Quickly, she moved it up, to 6 p.m. the next day.

Families that could not attend in person logged on virtually that Friday. Zeoli told them that the school had been sold to Chabad of Westport, next door on Newtown Turnpike. The sale would close July 1.

The last day would be June 3 — 3 weeks away. She agreed, however, to remain open 2 weeks beyond that — though only until 4 p.m., 90 minutes earlier than the usual 5:30 closing.

Parents were upset — and angry. The contracts they had signed with the school required 60 days’ notice before withdrawal. Zeoli gave them just over half that — at a time when nearly every preschool had already enrolled students for the coming year.

Many parents were counting on 3, 4’s summer program for their youngsters. Suddenly, they scrambled to make plans.

One parent said that Zeoli had lied just days earlier, responding to questions about spots for the upcoming fall.

Others — who had paid in advance for a a full year — said she had taken their money, despite knowing that the school would close.

Zeoli circulated a list of preschools in the area. Unlike 3, 4 Open the Door, only one was open all day, like 3,4. Many of those with morning sessions had just one or two openings left.

On Monday, Schur called Chabad. He wanted to se if there was any flexibility for the 30 or 40 families about to lose child care.

Director Dina Kantor was “great,” Schur recalls. He learned a couple of interesting things.

Chabad did not need the building until the end of August — not immediately, as Zeoli implied.

And Chabad had a couple of empty classrooms. Perhaps the preschool could use them during the summer.

Schur also broached the subject of Chabad renting back the Wilton Road facility to 3, 4, for use until September.

Chabad of Westport — formerly the Three Bears Inn.

He emailed what he’d learned to a 3,4 teacher. The staff too was scrambling, for employment.

The next day, Zeoli’s son Robert — the business manager — emailed Schur. He said:

It has come to my attention that you spoke to the Chabad regarding the sale of the school and the timing if [sic] its closure. We have no intention of changing the closing date of 3, 4 beyond June 17th.

If you want to speak to the synagogue about enrolling your kids in their program, that is your business, but do not involve us, the other parents at 3,4, or our staff in any way.

If you want to pursue this further, I suggest you speak to our attorney.

The final 3 weeks were difficult. Zeoli removed playground apparatus, and many toys (yet still charged full price).

She did not allow parents to attend “graduation,” saying, “one of our fathers has stirred up a tremendous amount of animosity amongst the parents. I can’t selectively tell parents to attend so as a consequence no Parents are invited to attend.”

A mother arranged for an ice cream truck on the final day, so families could be together one last time. Zeoli allowed the gathering, but said it had no connection to 3,4 Open the Door.

The truck got stuck in traffic, and never arrived. Parents trooped across Wilton Road to the Country Store, and bought popsicles for the kids.

“That sort of sums up the end of the year,” Schur says.

For nearly 30 years, 3, 4 Open the Door operated on Wilton road.

He knows kids are resilient. He knows too that he and his wife are fortunate to have secured spots at Old Hill School, which opened their doors to families needing coverage, and teachers needing jobs. Create in Wilton did the same.

Schur has moved on, from anger to sorrow.

“3, 4 was a Westport institution for 25 years,” he says. “This should have been a fond farewell, sending Cyndi into a well-earned retirement. She took care of kids for all those years.

“Instead, to me, she ignored 30 or 40 families at the end. She left a stain on her legacy.”

(Cyndi Zeoli did not respond to a request for comment.)

(“06880” relies on reader support. Please click here to help fund this blog.)

Unsung Heroes #170

Growing up in Westport, Jordan Schur spent plenty of time at the Westport Weston Family YMCA.

He still lives here. Now he’s a father. Jordan writes:

I want to express thanks and gratitude for the YMCA staff in the before/after- school childcare programs.

The pandemic has brought challenges to every family. For a 2-parent working household like ours, the Y has been a lifesaver. Let me highlight what an amazing resource they have been.

Westport’s elementary schools meet 2 hours and 45 minutes of in-school teaching each day, either morning or afternoon.

This leaves a lot of unaccounted-for hours, including kids’ “specials” (gym, art, music, Spanish) and homework.

This is just one area where the YMCA has been incredible. The staff helps kids log into their computers to do their specials, and provides them with materials and assistance.

The staff also helps kids with their homework in fun and creative ways, like turning sight words into artistic clouds that my wife and I would never have thought of even in normal times.

The Westport Y’s childcare program includes school help …

Then there are great extracurricular activities like swimming. The staff ensures they are there on time, as well as helping with lunches, the bus routine of getting to and from school, and countless other things they do every day that parents never hear about.

Heading into the school year, we had concerns about how our daughter would keep up with her work, and how she could participate in daily “specials” without a parent to help her.

The YMCA stepped up, figured it out, and has been beyond accommodating.  Their responsiveness to concerns is a model for any customer service business, and their attention to each child’s individual needs is refreshing.

With adjustments to the pool because of the latest COVID outbreak, the staff has taken special notice that there is less time for our daughter to get ready to swim. They ensure she is changed prior to her “special,” so she can get to her lesson on time.

Little things like that allow my wife and I to do our work, without having to sit distracted and concerned about how our daughter is managing.

And taking children for full Wednesdays when school is not in session, as well as school holidays, is a great solution to the constant juggling act of kid logistics.

… and fun, in the new gymnastics studio.

So thank you to the whole YMCA team. I would highlight individuals, but I know how big a team it is to make everything described above come true. I don’t want to leave anyone out.

We are grateful for the role you have filled in our community. With so much uncertainty about the future, having a daily rock like your team is beyond reassuring.

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email dwoog@optonline.net)

$1 Million Hoop Dreams

There are a few ways to make $1 million in basketball.

You can be an NBA star, which pretty much means planning before birth to have 7-foot parents.

You can win your NCAA bracket, which pretty much means having as much luck as having 7-foot parents.

Or you can win The Tournament. That’s the path a pair of Westporters hope plan to take.

The Tournament is a 5-on-5, winner-take-all event. There is no entry free. 18 teams, in each of 4 US regions, are selected by fan votes. Another 6 in each region get at-large bids.

The winning team earns $950,000. The other 5% goes to its fans — including $5,000 to the fan who recruits the most other fans.

Jordan Schur

Jordan Schur

Jordan Schur was in the Tournament stands last year, in Philadelphia. The 2001 Staples graduate — a former Wrecker basketball (and soccer) star, who went on to an impressive hoops career at Union College — was impressed by the level of play, and the professional uniforms, refereeing and organization.

For the past year, he’s plotted how to get in. He knew he could put together a team of guys he plays with, in his regular 5:30-7 a.m. game.

But he graduated from college 10 years ago. The more he thought about it, the more Schur realized that, as general manager, he could form a much better squad.

That is not an idle idea. Schur became a FIBA-certified international basketball agent in 2011. It was a hobby — in real life he’s a lawyer — but he enjoyed placing American players with overseas teams.

John DiBartolomeo, in Spain.

John DiBartolomeo, in Spain.

One of the players he knew of was John DiBartolomeo. In 2009, Schur tried to recruit the Staples standout for Union. DiBartolomeo ended up at the University of Rochester — where he earned 1st team All-America honors, and was named Division III National Player of the Year.

After graduating, he signed a professional contract in Spain — and in his 1st season was named MVP of the 3rd Division league. This year’s he’s in the 2nd Division.

In February, Schur sent out feelers to a few players. DiBartolomeo leaped at the idea. He sent Schur a list of top players from overseas. Schur has signed up 7 so far, including guys from Japan, Israel and Egypt.

He’ll find 3 more players. It’s unlikely any others will have a Staples connection.

But “06880” readers can still be involved. The more fans Schur’s team has, the more chance they’ll have of being able to compete for that $1 million.

And remember: fans share in the prize money. There’s up to $5,000 in it for you.

Just click this link:  https://www.thetournament.com/teams/team-krossover

It’s a far easier way to make money than playing in the NBA. Or even filling out a bracket.