At Yavneh, we teach children according to their way, make learning relevant, provide a dynamic learning environment, and do so in relationship to everything around us. So then it can be of no surprise to anyone that when our Yehumanoot students (middle school elective) were posed with the challenge of enhancing our school premises and culture through art and Jewish learning, they chose the very place that relates to everyone, every day.
We used the synectics process, a form of design thinking and problem solving, to help them decide upon a school problem the students wanted to tackle. We spent several classes studying several Jewish texts, including liturgy, Torah, and Talmud, to frame and inform the work. Our study guided us towards enhanced understandings of our bodies, our school spaces, and the component elements–like water–essential to our everyday functions. They then proceeded to spend weeks (and weekends!) designing, drafting, and dedicating themselves to beautifying our bathroom spaces, making sure that they would reflect our learning, that they would be clean and appealing, and that they would be safe and welcoming. When we care for ourselves, the community, and the environment, we embody and actualize our fundamental beliefs.
Through the generosity and guidance of the Legacy Heritage Teacher Institute for the Arts, we have been able to do incredible, important work. Special mention must also be made of our program mentor, Rabbi Scott Slarskey, who visited our school in December and worked with our 3rd grade, 5th grade, and Yehumanoot classes, integrating Jewish Studies and the arts even further.