What an amazing year. The opening of our Beit Kehillah in October was a highlight that brought a whole new dimension to our Kabbalot Shabbat, prayer services and assemblies. We all enjoyed the roominess, windows, lighting, built-in projectors and screens and a built-in Torah ark with a long-awaited Ner Tamid. The music, more participatory and student-led than ever, the tefillah programs themselves, under the direction of Rabbi Hahn Tapper, seemed more spiritual and meaningful than ever in our new environs. From birthday math challenges and Keshet Krew skits, to the school musical, art walk, modern band performances, class seders, milestones, ceremonies, parent workshops, town hall, guest speakers, teacher workshops and the Israel Scouts Friendship Caravan last week, the Beit Kehillah really became as its name implies, the home of our community.
And as much as the happenings in our new space enriched our lives, the main event was still happening in each and every classroom. There was ongoing evidence of learning everywhere. Students studied hard, played hard and grew socially.
They faced challenges, took risks, learned to deal with disappointment and tragedy and celebrated many, many successes. Progress was witnessed throughout.
So what now? The Torah sends a clear message about the importance of rest. Judaism may be the first culture to mandate a day of rest each week, and even calls out the need for land to rest every seven years from agricultural endeavors. These approaches to taking a break have been shown to ultimately increase productivity and achievement. As we approach summer, as always, I encourage families to look at this as our students’ times to rest. I encourage downtime and play. Unless your teacher has specifically advised specific summer work for your individual child to support specific areas of challenge, focus on the physical and social. DO read, and encourage reading. Libraries are exciting free places to explore books of interest… and they’re usually air-conditioned. Find natural and organic ways to exercise math muscles (our family to this day love to guesstimate what the totals of restaurant checks or market bills).
And while our students are resting their brains, we too will be resting a bit more than usual. Most of our staff and faculty take vacations for part of the summer, but many are also spending time engaging in our own professional learning. This summer, teachers will be participating in professional learning related to math, Hebrew and English literacy, differentiated instruction, responsive classroom and more. Our teachers will also be reading one of several books on professional topics and participate in book clubs in the fall. Members of the administrative team will be spending much of the summer revisiting policies, and engaging in student placement and class schedules, inducting several new teachers and re-imagining a number of pieces of our program including both the library and environmental sciences programs as well as student learning support.
Summer marks a point of transition each year, and while enrollment and hiring are being finalized, there are still pieces of the puzzle which we are able to reveal later in the season. Keep your eye out for summer editions of Hashavua every few weeks, which will include information on forms and documents as well as notifications about staffing and program.
Wishing you a restful summer! Shabbat Shalom -Zvi