At the beginning of each school year, I speak to our high school students about empathy--the act of truly adopting the perspectives of other people. It’s hard work, I tell them, to break out of our worldview, out of our particular perspective, and consider what other people feel and believe, as well as why they feel and believe what they do.
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I read an article recently by John Pavlovitz about his experience at the grocery store the day after his father passed away. Since it was so hard for him to keep himself together, he was rude to some fellow customers, which was these strangers’ only interaction with him. Some random guy was treating them disrespectfully, so they could only assume that he acted in a rude and ill-tempered way all the time. No one knew that his father had just passed away, so this was their only idea of who he was.
What is gender inclusion education, you may ask? It is a program of learning that engages students, staff, families, and the community with topics such as gender stereotyping, understanding gender as “binary” or “non-binary”or “spectrum,” and engaging with terms such as “gender identity” and “gender expression.”
Earlier in the calendar year at Shabbat Dinner, Levi Brenner’s (Grade 1) grandmother asked him about his favorite subject in school. His answer was not topical, i.e. math or science, Levi responded that ‘collaboration’ is his favorite subject.
In the last two decades, and especially the last five years, the term resilience has become an education buzzword. All over the internet, media, and education research field, people are asking questions such as, “Why are children less resilient today?” and “How do we help our children become more resilient?”
With nearly 20% of the 21st Century behind us, looking forward, what type of learning is most efficacious for our high school students? Continuing demand for workers with skills in technological domains1 supports study in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), which is, of course, a growing presence among our offerings at CESJDS.
In the Lower School’s August Welcome Back letter, we highlighted a number of new and ongoing initiatives about which we were particularly excited coming into the 2019-2020 school year. Among them, I briefly described a new addition to our Friday morning schedule: Community Morning Meetings.
Earlier this year I was honored to join fifteen other Jewish day school leaders as part of the eleventh cohort of the Day School Leadership Training Institute (DSLTI). We represent a wide array of school administrator roles - Principals, Heads of School, and Directors - who are all relatively new to the role of their current senior leadership position.
I was impressed with Ms. Westover’s writing ability and found myself absorbed in her story. While her life experience includes extreme hardships that I do not wish upon any others and is, hopefully, foreign to all members of our community, it does touch on a number of points that are pertinent to the educational program in our high school.
The Class of 2023 is and will always be the first CESJDS middle school class in what has become a thriving and strong middle school. As the first 6th graders here at the upper school you were initially disappointed about waiting until 8th grade for your grade trip, which was totally worth it! We also know that sometimes being the first made you feel a bit like guinea pigs.
Reach for the stars. Class of 2026 - that is the charge that you have chosen for yourselves as you complete your years of study at the Lower School and prepare for the next chapter of your education and your lives.
At the beginning of this week, we celebrated the festival of Shavu-ot, also known as זמן מתן תורתינו, the time of the giving of our Torah. Our tradition teaches that it was at this time over three thousand two hundred and fifty years ago that the exodus generation received the Torah at Mount Sinai. The Jewish community around the world commemorates the anniversary of this event on Shavu-ot with a number of ritual practices, including late night Torah study and a reading of the Ten Commandments section of the Torah.
Picture the entire 8th grade class sitting, deeply reflecting upon, and journaling about the Portrait of a Graduate on their 8th grade trip to the South. Now picture the entire 8th grade class on the Shabbaton that immediately followed the trip, sitting in a quiet, contemplative circle, listening so intently to one another that one could hear a pin drop as each and every student shared what CESJDS has given to them as both students and human beings.
As a teacher, it became evident to me early on that my instruction could be more relevant to my students and more personalized to their needs. And as my work progressed, I began to see that the thoughtful implementation of classroom technology (referred to by some as “Blended Learning” because of the blend of human and technological elements) could help address this problem.
Roughly a year ago I wrote a piece titled The Value of Time Off. Immediately below is a condensed version of that piece (it bears repeating each year), and that is followed by a description of the three questions I’ll pose to our high school students at our closing assembly in a couple of weeks
My husband and I give to the Ma’ayan Annual Campaign because of our daughter and current 9th grader, Ellie. Ellie had in her mind for years that she would go to Madeira for high school because she loved horseback riding and she knew at that high school it could be part of her daily curriculum.
Even before my arrival at JDS, I had a sense of the profound meaning of the Irene and Daniel Simpkins Senior Capstone Israel Trip. This year, I had the opportunity to visit my daughter on the trip (over Pesah, along with many other JDS families) and I was overwhelmed with additional layers of meaning that the trip offers. The trip is the culmination of a Jewish education at JDS that, throughout, holds Ahavat Yisrael (love of Israel) as a core value.
With Pesach/Passover around the corner, I find myself thinking about the community oriented focus of the Torah and Judaism. One of the most important values of Pesach, and in my experience one of the pillars of the Jewish people, is that no one should be alone for seder.
During February, I had the privilege of representing BBYO at the Jewish Federations of North America’s annual Jewish Disability Advocacy Day (JDAD) Conference, along with over one hundred passionate members of the Jewish community dedicated to making our country a more inclusive place for all.
In my February Principal’s Perspective I wrote about college admission and included my interview of Sue Rexford, Director of College Guidance. Near the end, I wrote the following: When we consider education to be a means of self-development and self-discovery, of broadening our perspectives and developing the confidence and the tools to tackle a myriad of life’s problems, then I believe we can rise above our culture’s prodding to somehow link our self-worth with the name of the college we attend.