Monday, September 26, 2011

Building our Kehillah

This week, we will have the privilege of celebrating Rosh Hashanah and welcoming the new year. For me, an integral part of the celebrating the holiday with family and friends is the process of anticipation and the many thoughts and ideas that I am contemplating about our Kehillah--our international Kehillah, our national Kehillah and of course, our local Kehillah.

I am thinking about Israel and everything that has been going on this past week. I look forward to visiting each year with our 8th graders and to being a part of such an amazing community there. I worry about what will happen as the politics of the region become even more of an issue, not only for Israelis, but for Jews living here in the United States and all over the world.

I am thinking about things here at home--the economy, our government, entering in to another campaign season and the issues that all three of these bring to light for so many of us. The economy continues to be a challenge for so many in our community and in the greater community. The world we live in is changing so fast--things that were a given just a few short years ago can no longer be taken as such. It is so hard to make predictions and to look beyond the immediate present.

But at the same time as I am thinking about these very heavy issues, and yes, I know that I cannot single-handedly make the world everything I want it to be, I realize that I must do my part, and I turn my attention to my local community and to reaffirming what it means for me to build our Kehillah, our community.

I have to admit that I have not worked through all of the answers, but I can share that I have a lot of questions that I'll be thinking about while I am in shul, enjoying time with family and friends and celebrating the new year: What are my strengths that I can bring to my kehillah? What do I do well that I want to share with my synagogue, my school (also my kids' school), and the other organizations in which I am involved? What am I going to volunteer to do this year that I didn't do last year, so that I can help to build our Kehillah? In what ways will I become part of the force to move our Kehillah forward to new heights?

I challenge each of us to ask these questions for ourselves and for our Kehillah, and to answer them by taking action and getting involved. The Kehillah that I want to build, requires us to give of ourselves and to make it our own.

As we learn in Pirke Avot, we are not expected to complete the task, but neither are we allowed to not engage in it. How will you choose to build our local Kehillah this year so that together, we can impact our the greater Kehillah for all of the Jewish people?

I wish everyone a Shana Tova u'Metukah!

Marc Medwed, Head of School

Monday, September 12, 2011

Getting out of the office

"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

A Great First Day

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.

Marc Medwed
Head of School