Friday, January 20, 2012

Post Conference Reflections

It has been a few days since I returned from the North America Jewish Day School Conference in Atlanta.  The conference was the third of its kind where all of the major day school networks joined together for learning.  I had the privilege of attending the conference with Dr. Nitzan Resnick and Mrs. Ivonne Krasnick.  Together we enjoyed networking with colleagues from around the country and from a variety of school settings.  A highlight for us was the opportunity to visit The Epstein School, the Solomon Schechter School of Atlanta, as part of the conference to see what things are going on in other schools.  I am proud to share that Dr. Resnick led a workshop that highlighted some of the work that we are doing in our school.

One of my biggest take aways from the conference was having the opportunity to network with many other school heads.  The economic situation all over is really tough and day schools in many communities are feeling the impact.  Schools are "right sizing" and making adjustments to class sizes, budgets and staffing.  There is great concern for the day school movement--not that it is going anywhere but that the landscape is shifting and changing dramatically, with Jewish day schools needing and wanting to reemphasize the value proposition of our schools, as money becomes tighter for people and spending choices are impacted. Education done well is not an inexpensive endeavor and is a major investment for our families, yet from so much research and anecdotal evidence, we know that it is one of the best investments a family can make in the lives of their children.

Networking with other schools also gives us the chance to conduct a litmus test—what are we doing in our school and how does it compare with the initiatives in other places?  It was wonderful to reaffirm that with everything we are doing, our school is clearly a solid place of teaching and learning that provides an excellent education for our students.  While this is a good place to be, we are busy plotting our path for the continued growth and development of our school as we look towards next year and future year, as a school that stops thinking about the future is not a school that we will have!  The educational landscape that we know today is shifting.  While some of what we do is timeless, much will change in the next few years and we are moving with and ahead of the curve as we learn about new technologies, think about bringing more technologies as learning tools into our school and continue to evaluate our curriculum, carefully charting out the skills our children need and the Habits of Minds we want them to develop. This is an exciting time to be in the field of education!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this as and join with me as we explore the next steps for our collective growth as a 21st century school.

Marc Medwed
Head of School

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