Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Learning goes beyond the walls of the classroom in so many ways. Music is such an important component in our children's lives, that we begin singing to them, often in utero, and many a moment is spent singing songs of joy, ritual songs, and plain old silly songs. What a great way to learn about the story of Hanukkah, both as the students prepared the presentation of the songs, as they clearly had to learn the words, and for the audience, our whole school, who were able to pick out the key words that appeared throughout the songs, the characters and the plot. The smiles on the faces of our 5th grade performers and the rousing rounds of applause from our very proud parents, teachers and fellow students made for a great program.
If the program was the cake, our first ever, all-school spirit day was certainly the icing! Today, most of our students and teachers wore their KSA purple showing spirit and pride in our school. This was an initiative of our Student Council events committee and rumor has it that they are planning some more fun and spirit for our school.
KSA is both a school like every other and at the same time, is a school like no other; it was purple, purple everywhere as the singing and dancing taught us about the miracles of Hanukkah and the miracles that exist in our lives each day.
May we all be blessed with our everyday miracles and may the lights of Hanukkah continue to shine brightly for all of us.
Head of School
Thursday, December 8, 2011
|A science fair project board|
|The "life size" version from our model sukkah contest.|
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
It is hard to find the single most appropriate word to describe how I felt when our 7th and 8th graders began to move to their first-ever KSA Student Council Committees. These committees were created by both student and teacher interest and input. Many students cheered as they heard the committees to which they were assigned (based on their top 3 choices). Some appeared nervous about their first assignment – to work within their committees to create a mission statement for their committee…They need to address the following questions: Why did they come together as a committee? What is their purpose? Who are they to serve? What do they want to be remembered for? Could they create a mission statement that was inspirational, and brief? Would their mission statement pass the litmus test of how would it look on a Tshirt and would they wear it? How was their mission statement connected to KSA’s vision? A sophisticated undertaking, no doubt, but then the ideas began to flow….
The events committee began to talk about theme days and how to make school fun “without interrupting school”. “Twin day, Red day for heart health, school spirit day – can we all dress as Hornets?” The Green Committee reached out immediately to the faculty to find areas in the school that might benefit from some tender loving care. Some committees searched for a name for their committee, helping them to bond as a group and develop camaraderie within the committee. Committee advisors – teachers they work with daily but will now work with in a new capacity, as well as our new school social worker and an administrator from the business office who they met for the first time – just another example of how everyone from KSA takes an active interest in our students and is willing to take time during their day to enhance our students’ lives.
Many approaches, many ideas – works in progress – collaboration – all of it good for the students and ultimately good for KSA….Why limit my feelings to one word – so many came to mind – pride, excitement, wonder, awe, anticipation…the possibilities are limitless, just as they are for our KSA Student Council….
Ivonne Krasnick, Assistant Head of School
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
and neither was our sukkah!
Sukkot is my most favorite holiday of the year! When my wife and I first purchased our sukkah many years ago, I was amazed at how long it took me to put it up the first time (yes, I admit that I am not the most handy of individuals!). Over the next few years, I was able to put it up faster and more efficiently. Then something truly amazing happened--putting the sukkah up starting taking me even more time, but I could not be more thrilled with the reasons why this happened.
How excited I was the very first time when my oldest was only 3 and she came outside first thing in the morning ready to build! Needless to say, the time it would take to build was increased, but well worth it. What a highlight it was to see my daughter so excited about our sukkah and the chance to build with her Abba! The excitement was contagious and with each year, her level of participation increased and my other children were also eager to join in.
Fast forward a few years...not only did we begin planning our Sukkah weeks before Rosh Hashanah, my three kids couldn't wait to build together this year. A task that I originally did alone to fulfill the mitzvah of dwelling in the sukkah has now turned in to a family affair that does not only fulfill the mitzvah, but is a fine example of hiddur mitzvah, of enhancing the mitzvah, as we build and decorate our family sukkah. Most importantly, we are doing it together.
It is a day and a half before the start of the holiday and the sukkah is not yet finished, however, I have no worries that it will be ready in time for dinner Wednesday night as we begin to celebrate the week with family and friends as we have done for many years. However, sitting in our sukkah this year will have a whole new level of meaning, as it has now become our family sukkah, one that we share together with pride in our work together of building and decorating.
And I, as a parent couldn't be more proud as my kids' excitement for living Jewishly continues to grow.
I wish you all Hag Sameah and a joyful Sukkot!
Marc Medwed, Head of School
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
The challenge of being married to a fellow Jewish educator is that sometimes it is just too difficult to turn off our work when we are together!
As is often the case, I was speaking with my wife, Dr. Karen Reiss Medwed, about a workshop that she will be giving this Sunday in New Jersey. Her topic “Becoming the Jewish People of the Digital Book” is related to the integration of technology into our schools and into our lives, and what that could look like. A fascinating topic indeed, but what grabbed me more was the idea upon which her workshop is built, which I am sharing here and I look forward to hearing about it from her as she develops it more fully and delivers the workshop next week.
We were reflecting on the fact that it is right before Yom Kippur and in the midst of the holiday season, and that teshuvah, repentance, is a prevalent theme. The question is how does our understanding of teshuvah lead us to transformational thinking about the values that are at the core in our schools and in our lives?
Her answer is interesting one--she goes to a moment in Jewish history to a community that would not adapt or change—the Karaites. For those who aren’t up on their Jewish history, the Karaites were a group of people who determined that their values and their way of life were better than the changes they observed in the larger community. The Karaites therefore chose to hold fast to their values, refusing to embrace change and the innovative direction of the community, i.e. the Rabbinic period whereby Judaism evolved more into what we know today. This decision turned out to be a rather fateful one, as we now study about the Karaites as a community that didn’t survive because of their unwillingness to transform with the times and innovations.
We are living in a world that is very different than the world we knew only five years ago and the world that is coming down the pike will be very different than it is now. We are the people of the book—we have embraced our books throughout time. From the time when everything was written on scrolls, to the advent of the printing press and the creation of books, to the electronic readers on which we can read almost any book in any language, holy and secular.
As I reflect on this workshop idea that she is presenting, I have this spiritual reflection to add: During this time of the Aseret Y’mei Teshuvah, we perform what we call “teshuvah”. This act, the act of teshuvah, is not backwards looking, but rather is very forward looking—we ask forgiveness and then change or transform the behavior so that it doesn’t happen again.
The connection of the two fascinates me as a school leader—we as a Jewish community have survived all of these years because we figured out a way to adapt our ideals and values to the changing world in which we live. We don’t give up who we are, what we stand for, and what is important to us, but we do adapt each of these things so that we will continue to thrive as individuals and as a people.
As we move into Yom Kippur and reflect upon teshuvah being forward thinking, how will we look ahead and adapt our education to the new world in which we are living, where technology is a part of all that we do and so much of what we are, when we can talk to someone around the world as if they are sitting right across from us, where information is at our fingertips, and where our social community is a global one?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts- feel free to share them with me in person or online!
G’mar Hatima Tova,
Marc Medwed, Head of School
Monday, September 26, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
"No Office Time" is scheduled into my calendar, three times a week for two hours each time. During these blocks of time, I commit to spending quality time in classrooms—not just walking through, but time being part of different classes so that I can experience what our teachers are teaching and what our students are learning. Don’t get me wrong—I do get out of my office more often than just these blocks of time--each day when I walk around the building to see how things are going, when I spend time with students and teachers at lunch and recess, when I lead the 8th grade boys havurah, and for other special programs and school-wide events. However, the life of a Head of School has many pulls and draws that often have an impact on how I schedule my days.
So if you are wondering how I spend my days as a head of school, if you are thinking that there are meetings involved, you are correct. These meetings are important—they give me time to talk with our leadership team, time to meet with current and prospective parents, and to engage with teachers, students and staff on so many things that take place during the school day.
You probably know that I am not the only school leader who struggles to balance the need for meetings with the need to be out and about with students and teachers in the classroom. Many school leaders, when speaking openly with one another, share similar stories. As a result of these feelings, a group of administrators created a movement that is being celebrated this week: No Office Day, where administrators who sign on are leaving their offices, their telephones, and their email for the entire day as they spend time in classrooms. As we just opened school and the pull for meetings right now is quite compelling, I will be participating in a modified way this week by blocking off a few hours over several days to be in our classrooms.
As I wrote earlier, this won’t be the only time that I am in classrooms, but it is a great opportunity for me. Our teachers and students deserve to see me, their Head of School, while they are engaged in the business we do best—teaching and learning. In this way, I can offer support, provide feedback, and experience for myself all of the wonderful things that are going on in our school.
I am looking forward to spending more time in classrooms, experiencing the joy of teaching and learning with our students, and to sharing so many wonderful things that our students participate in each day.
Marc Medwed, Head of School
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Dear KSA Families,
It was a rainy start to the day, but it was all smiles inside as we began what promises to be a wonderful year at Kehillah Schechter Academy! Even the outside weather is holding out, as I just saw our kids running around outside at recess.
There is nothing better in the life of a school than to hear the voices of our children filling the halls and breathing life back into a building that stood empty for a good part of the summer. What a joy to walk through the halls and see our children happily engaged with each other, meeting new friends and reconnecting with old friends as they begin the school year!
Our community is blessed with the presence of each child, the passion for learning that each child brings to school each day, and the commitment of each parent to the holy and awesome work that we do in our school. I thank you all for being a part of our school and I look forward to seeing everyone each day.
Head of School