Principals Perspective (May 2023) - Dr. Eliana Lipsky
Dr. Eliana Lipsky

Inspiration, Authentic Exploration, Real World Application

At CESJDS the Portrait of a Graduate is an aspirational document that we hope inspires and guides each of our students as they move through their CESJDS journey. In the Middle School we ask our students to reflect on the Portrait of a Graduate at the end of their 8th Grade Bridges Capstone Trip to the South. Similar to the reflections students do to prepare for Student Led Learning Conferences, it is a moment during which our students take stock of how far they have come on their educational journey before looking ahead to high school. Throughout their middle school journey, we aim to provide and engage our middle school students with numerous opportunities and experiences that inspire them, feel authentic, and are applicable to the real world. 

As I was reflecting a few weeks ago on how much the Middle School program has grown, I was proud to see how many guest speakers our students encounter through our academic and experiential programming. In just this school year, we have had over fifty guest speakers visit the Middle School to date and address our students during individual classes, gradewide assemblies, and middle school programs. Hearing directly from guest speakers is crucial to our students’ ability to see the world beyond their classroom walls, sparking their imagination as they envision their future selves.

Drug Counselor and Speaker for Montgomery County DHHS Mr. Andy Jillson shared his personal recovery story while educating about opioid addiction with the 8th grade students. During Innovation Minimester, over 50 students intrigued by architecture were able to hear from architect Dr. Adam Bresnick about how he combined his love for art and physical space through his creation of an internationally renowned architectural firm. All middle school students heard Judokan Ori Sasson’s story about resilience and learning from failure to become a world champion. Mr. Elisha Weisel, son of Dr. Elie Weisel, and Mr. Edward Godin, son of Mrs. Nessie Godin and JDS parent alum, continued our tradition of telling stories of survival and Jewish peoplehood. Chaplain Rabbi Jordan Hersch demonstrated commitment to purpose driven service. 

I can’t say every speaker resonated with every student, but I can say that every student can name at least one speaker they found captivating this year. One reason why this is possible is because of the broad range of topics to which we expose our students. This expansive list of speakers can be found here. Another reason is that each of our speakers takes a moment to share how their personal journey and identity play a role in their professional choices and passion areas. Understanding our identity and journey is why we ask our students to reflect throughout middle school and especially in 8th grade through the lens of the CESJDS Portrait of a Graduate

Our speaker series parallels what we aim to do in the Middle School: Afford students myriad experiences to explore their interests and passions, grow their skills, and challenge themselves to think bigger, bolder, and deeper.