Dreaming Forward

Dear SHA Family,

It was on SHA’s Grandparents Day right after the “State of the School” presentation that a grandparent, came over to me and summed up the gist of my talk. He was very pleased (phew!) and said that what had struck him was SHA’s willingness to transparently assess our ongoing new academic initiatives. Yes, we are; it is THE SHA WAY.

And it is the nature of education to innovate and to change. The Talmud records this idea in a pithy statement of Rabbi Joshua when insisting of students that they share with him what they had heard in the Study Hall because, after all — אי אפשר לבית המדרש בלא חידוש it is impossible that there be nothing new in the Bet Midrash.

I take this in the metaphoric sense as well. Not only is it impossible to not to have learned something every time we enter a classroom – it is impossible to have a House of Study, a school, that is not continuously innovating – it is inherent in education that there are transformations, advancement and ongoing redesigning.

Perhaps because it is the mightiest lesson that we have to teach our youngsters. As per the words of Jean Piaget, “The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done – men who are creative, inventive and discoverers.” As educators we must model at all times a fearless readiness to try the new, to experiment, to shake things up a little bit. This past year brought the inspiring leadership of two thoughtful educator leaders to SHA; Liora Minkin as Director of K-8 and Rebecca Feuer as Director of Early Childhood.

Listed here are new initiatives or endeavors that we took on this past year.

  • NWAIS Re-Accreditation Self-Study
  • “Measuring Middot” with Rosov Consulting
  • School wide adoption of Positive Discipline
  • Star 360 Assessment
  • Social Emotional Learning with a focus on Kindness, Compassion & Community
  • Middle School Reimagining Process with Staff Boot Camp
  • Maker Space Initiative
  • Educational Leadership Team Convened
  • Technology Phase III
  • Introduction of Middle School Coding Course & Engineering Courses
  • Common Sense Media Curriculum K-8
  • Lower School Curriculum Alignment

We are not preparing our children for the future. They are the future.

Which brings me to our animating theme for this upcoming year, Dreaming Forward, which we hope will inspire all of us as a community to dream, to plan and to innovate even as we move forward.

As I enter my eleventh year as Head of School and thirteenth year in a leadership role, I invite you to share in this noble journey of Jewish education by Dreaming Forward together with me.

New Year!

September 14, 2016

It was simply joyous – and I had to wipe a few tears from my eyes, as teachers took turns at the microphone at the Lower School Likrat Shabbat Assembly and described the Project SHAlom Student of the Week form their grade.

Each student was recognized for one of our SHA Values –

“SHA expects students to be Ready, Responsible and Respectful and to feel with Empathy,

act with Kindness and build Community.

As the student was called up they were invited to sign the SHA Golden Notebook with the Golden pencil to permanently record their honor.

It was a sight to behold. We have a long year ahead with the opportunity to honor every student for their celebratory worthy deeds!

May we share many moments of SHA Pride!

September 22, 2016

I often quote Dr. Sharon Feiman-Nemser, “Teaching is complex, intellectual work.” This past Tuesday and Wednesday were fine examples of this pronouncement. All of us SHA’s TaNaCH teachers were ensconced in the Conference Room with Cindy Reich our Legacy Heritage TaNaCH Standards and Benchmarks coach. We were busy studying, debating and working very hard in these initial steps at laying out a comprehensive plan for SHA’s Chumash learning through the grade levels. We are the 12th Cohort nation-wide to go through this process and feel very good about the expertise that is being shared with us. So much gratitude to Rabbi Rob Toren for joining us and for the Samis Foundation’s support in this endeavor. Much appreciation, as well to SHA Staff who stepped in to cover for teachers who were part of the training.

Though the holidays are really late this year it is still surprising to turn the page on the calendar and realize – ten days till Rosh Hashanah!