Category Archive for "Head of School"

Happy Winter Break!

Happy Winter Break!

Dear Parents:

It always amazes me how in the blink of an eye, winter break is upon us. It seems like just yesterday, we opened school with the anticipation and excitement of a new school year. And now, we arrive at our Winter Break, with Hanukkah and a new calendar year just days away! 

While I have spent the better part of the past few months teaching your children and guiding our teachers through the implementation of our project-based curriculum, it turns out that I have been learning quite a bit, as well. Learning from my colleagues, teachers, and especially, our students. I have learned about working together, respecting differences, and importantly, about resilience. I’ve seen our students face challenges with peers or a setback on a test, and though there’s a healthy dose of self-reflection, I’ve witnessed our kids’ ability to bounce back – even better and stronger than before. 

I recognize that resilience may not come as easily as it may have when we were younger, but I have always found that Winter Break arrives just in time to give all of us that chance to pause, reflect, and resolve. It’s important to note that it also gives us a chance to rejoice over the celebration of Hanukkah and a new year with new hopes, new goals, and renewed promise. Together, a little rest and relaxation, a lot of family time, and celebration of our traditions make for a very effective recipe for resilience.

Whether you’re traveling or staying close to home, I hope that your Winter Break will give you opportunities to rejuvenate with the joy of family and the light of the Hanukkah candles. Embrace the beauty of the break and all that it has to offer you, and I look forward to coming back together and beginning 2017 with a renewed zest for learning, growing, and community! 

On behalf of the entire administrative team, I wish you and your families a safe and relaxing Winter Break, a very Happy Hanukkah, and a healthy, happy, and fulfilling New Year. I look forward to seeing all of you in 2017!

Warmly,

Shara

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The Hidden Treasure of Your Child’s School Work

Dear ADAT Families,

As a parent, you have no doubt had moments wishing that you could better capture the progress your child has made from the beginning of the year to the end at every grade level. You’ve also probably had moments of not knowing what to do with all the work that is sent home and how to best organize and save it. Many of you probably have boxes per grade that fill up your garage. Sound familiar?

Whether sentimental, observational, prideful, or whatever your reason, there are educational benefits to being able to reflect on a student’s progress throughout the year. For teachers, the ability to reflect on each child’s work also has great advantages. They have opportunities to reflect on their own teaching – how it impacted their students personally and academically or what subject matter resonated well with students and which did not – and make adjustments for the subsequent year(s).

For your children – our students – reflection is an integral component of their learning and the Design Thinking process. Reflecting on their progress over the course of a year or over many years really engages students, not only in what they have learned, but how they have learned. Seeing artifacts from different points of the year will jog their memory of the subject matter and what they knew about it at the time – giving them a chance to reflect on their learning process and boost their confidence in how much knowledge they have acquired.

Beginning in early 2017, we will be introducing digital portfolios at ADAT for our students at every grade level. Our goal is to collect one piece of work from each subject per student three times a year (beginning, mid-year, and at the end of year). The students will write/dictate their own description and reflection about the project at the level that is developmentally-appropriate for them, and it will be easily accessible in a cloud-based technology. Ultimately, we plan to incorporate the digital portfolio into 6th grade graduation to truly demonstrate the breadth and depth of learning that each child experiences at ADAT.

We are extremely excited about this new initiative and hope you will be, too. While we may not be able to solve all of your organizational issues with your child’s previous artwork, we believe we have a found a solution that will benefit you, teachers, and our students educationally and emotionally going forward. Stay tuned for more information in 2017!

Warmly,

Shara

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Empathy and Resilience in the Election Aftermath

Head of School Blog 

Dear Parents,

This week has certainly been an emotionally-charged week. No matter what side you’re on, I think we can all agree that emotions ran high for us, our children, and our world. Being an educator during an election certainly has its challenges, but I’m grateful to be surrounded by a team that has so diligently prepared our teachers (and thus, our students) for the feelings, lessons, and learning that are inevitably going to arrive at school after election day. Together, we culled resources, articles, and best practices from educators around the country to fine tune the way that we wanted to address the results of the election with our students at ADAT.

The lessons I want to impart from this election are about empathy and resilience – not just for our children, but for us and our country. Any election, and this one in particular, has required all of us to show empathy for one another. There is no expectation that we should all have the same opinion or even agree, but the ability to recognize and understand each other’s feelings is an important step toward healing and coming together for the good of our country. Our students are learning to practice and live empathically every day at ADAT through our Design Thinking work melded so beautifully with this value in a Jewish setting. Our own mock election day at school allowed our students to experience first-hand this important democratic process, while dealing with the outcomes of their own election, and then that of the real election the next day. While it was no doubt difficult for everyone – teachers and students alike – to refocus on the teachable moments, when they did, empathy and resilience rose to the top.
Hillary Clinton shared her message of resilience with us in her concession speech, that I believe is worth re-sharing, regardless of political affiliation:
“And to all the young people in particular, I want you to hear this. I’ve spent my entire adult life fighting for what I believe in. I’ve had successes and I’ve had setbacks—sometimes really painful ones. Many of you are at the beginning of your careers. You will have successes and setbacks, too.

This loss hurts. But please, please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It’s always worth it. And we need you keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives.”

This message so poignantly states what we, at ADAT, believe so strongly – that our children – all children, can make a difference in our world. They will experience difficult moments in their life, but how they overcome them and continue to move forward will not only help shape their character, but has the power to influence the world. We need to continue to strengthen our students’ resiliency, so that they can come back stronger than before to fight for making a difference in our world. I am so proud that these are among the many values and skills our students are learning and will continue to learn at ADAT.
And, of course, I pray for our local communities and our country. I pray that we all can adopt more empathy and resilience and come together to make a better future our children who are so deserving.
B’Shalom,
Johannah
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Grading Update

Dear Parents,

Believe it or not, enough of the school year has passed this year that it’s already time for our first grading period! I wanted to take a moment to explain some slight changes to report cards this year.

In the past, report cards were sent home three times per year, and our year was divided into trimesters. Each report card contained number/letter grades (depending on the student’s grade-level), plus a narrative report.

We decided that it would be beneficial to communicate more frequently about your child’s progress. This year, we divided the year into four quarters instead of three trimesters, and plan connect with you four times about your child’s learning and growth.

Of course, our door is always open, and you can talk with your child’s teacher whenever you think it’s necessary to check in about his/her progress. That being said, here is the calendar of our formal grading communication:

  • November 15: Quarter 1 Progress Report
  • December 7 & 12: Winter Conferences
  • January 31: Semester 1 Detailed Report Card with Narrative Comments
  • March 15 & 20: Spring Conferences
  • April 4: Quarter 3 Progress Report
  • June 12: Semester 2 Detailed Report Card with Narrative Comments

We hope that with this new grading calendar, you are able to check in on your child’s progress more frequently. As always, we feel fortunate to be your partners on your child’s educational journey. We are confident that this grading calendar will provide an additional layer of support for our wonderful ADAT students!

Shabbat shalom,


Shara

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We Are the Difference Makers

Dear Parents,

Now that the holidays are behind us, we can look forward to continuing some of the incredible learning that is taking place in our classrooms on a more consistent schedule. One such example that I wanted to share with you is from our 6th grade.

The sixth grade theme for the year is “We are the difference-makers”, with the goal being that students not only learn the characteristics of successful individuals, but also actualize those qualities to make a difference in the world around them. Last week, the 6th grade has a special workshop with Sharsheret, an organization that helps families with women who are being treated for breast and ovarian cancer. Their Los Angeles Regional Director, Jenna Fields came to speak with the sixth grade class, then did a “Pink Challah Bake”, with the goal of selling the challah as a fundraiser for the organization.

class-photo natalie-oren-ryan

This program is just one of many examples at ADAT where students are able to have experiential learning opportunities that cross multiple disciplines. Of course, woven throughout is the students’ empathy and desire to help others. As a Head of School, I can think of no greater outcome for our students than to have the understanding that the possibility for change is within their grasp.

Shabbat Shalom,

Johannah

P.S. Our first Prospective Parent Open House is this Wednesday, November 2 at 9:30 a.m. We are excited to welcome many of our ECC families, as well as outside families to the first of two opportunities to get to know the Day School better. Tell your friends and help us spread the word about our wonderful school!

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Working Together for Sukkot

Dear Parents,

As we are in the midst of celebrating Sukkot, I wanted to share with you some reflections of our students’ collaborative work in preparation for Sukkot:

Our fifth grade students have seen their Sukkah take shape! Together with our maintenance team, our 5th graders constructed the exterior frame of our Day School Sukkah. They learned how to use zip ties and pliers. They learned that if you climb up a ladder, make sure that there’s someone on the other side holding it down! They learned that bamboo can give splinters if you slide your hands along it. They learned that when you are working with large, heavy objects, communication is very important! They learned that our maintenance team is very patient and kind, and loves working with kids. 

The students didn’t just construct or Sukkah– our Interior Design Team planned the layout and decor, adding features like a dance floor, relaxation corner, disco ball, and entry streamers. Our Art Team worked with Miss Mimi to bring student work into the sukkah, visiting many of her classes and teaching the younger grades how to do the art projects they had imagined for our Sukkah. Our Documentary Team is working to make a film to tell our story, and even meet with a documentary producer to get feedback on their work. 

Throughout this week, our students and any guests on our campus have benefitted from the tremendous effort, teamwork, and skill of our fifth graders. This exercise, timed intentionally for Sukkot, is the quintessential example of Design Thinking at work. Our students participated in the process from start to finish, while incorporating communication, math, design skills, and science, along with a great deal of creativity, passion, and collaboration. And, of course, a love for their Jewish tradition and knowledge of this festival holiday.

It is moments like these that make me marvel at the work our students are doing inside and outside the classroom. It is trulylearning redesigned.

 

Shara Peters

Curriculum and Instructional Strategist

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Reflections for Yom Kippur

Dear Parents,

As we are about to enter into the final days of these High Holy Days, I wanted to take a moment to reflect and turn inward – as a school. This practice of reflection not only requires us to look at the things upon which we could improve, but also at the good acts we do, the positive attributes we exhibit, and that which we hope to continue in the year to come.

At Adat Ari El Center for Education, we have only just begun our journey to redesigning our learning under a Design Thinking methodology. There are, naturally, growing pains that we all feel during this process and continue to look within for ways that we can continue to properly communicate to you, strengthen the program with innovation, and enforce an already strong academic curriculum.

And yet, we have accomplished so much. Students are living and learning through a project-based approach to the curriculum – integrating science, math, social studies, and Judaic Studies, while using critical thinking, creative, and problem solving skills. We opened our first TK class this year and have a full class for TK and Kindergarten to help grow our program. To help us move to even greater heights, we have added two new administrators – Shara and Jodi – who continue to shape and bring their unique expertise to our school.

Indeed, we have come so far in the last year and a few months – even since the start of school. We also have so much to still do and look forward to the new year with promise for continued growth and meaning for our administrators, teachers, students, and you.

May you all have a meaningful Yom Kippur and a very sweet New Year.

Warmly,

Johannah

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Shabbat Under the Stars and How Lucky We Are

Dear Parents,

Just a week ago, we gathered together for a much beloved event at Adat Ari El – Shabbat Under the Stars. And, what a wonderful gathering it was! Over 250 of us came together as a community to celebrate the beautiful ritual of Shabbat. For the first time, we enjoyed a class potluck, danced together, sang together, and warmly welcomed Cindy Paley to our community.
Events like these serve as a reminder of why we are all here. There is just something so uniquely special about Jewish Day School – about ADAT and our community. Our students are able to benefit from a carefully-planned, academic, and project-based curriculum rooted in Jewish values, we can all support each other and be there for each other as a strong community does, and then we can benefit from the richness of our tradition through our connection to our rabbis and cantor. We are ever so lucky, and I thank you joining with me to create an evening that is reflective of all of these positive qualities.
I look forward to seeing you all next week and to sharing the last week of 5776 together as we prepare for the new year. In the meantime, Shabbat Shalom.
Johannah
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Back to School Days and Night!

Dear Parents,

There’s nothing quite like the start of a new school year! The excitement in the air from the kids, teachers, and parents is palpable, and it drives everything we, as administrators, do as we embark on a new year together!

I imagine the reports are in by now from your children, and we hope their first week of school was as spectacular as it was from our point of view. We welcomed our youngest students – the Transitional Kindergarten children – to school with open arms and hearts, our older students enjoyed some quality time in our brand new Math Lab, and all grades transitioned into the year with ease, energy, and lots of ADAT spirit. Check this out!

As is par for the course, just as we start to get in the swing of things, Back to School Night is upon us – this Thursday, September 8 beginning at 7 p.m. in the DFC. We are trying out a new format for this evening, and have a lot of exciting information to share with you, including what’s new this year with our staffing, administration, and the expansion of our specialist teachers and new spaces to accommodate them. You’ll also hear more about dedicated lab time and passion projects, as we continue with the implementation phase of our Design Thinking curriculum and its influence throughout all areas of the school.

Back to School Night is always such an informative evening, and truly sets the stage for the coming year, so please make every effort to attend. We’ll close the evening with a dessert reception around 8:30 p.m., and look forward to talking with you one-on-one and answering any questions you may have.

Once again, on behalf of the entire Adat Ari El administration and staff, we wish your whole family an incredible 2016-17 school year. We are so glad to be sharing it wth you and your amazing children!

Warmly,

Johannah

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Books Are Everywhere and For Everyone!

Dear Parents,

Books are everywhere! Our incredible ADAT Book Fair started today and goes through Friday, and frankly, I think the timing is just right!  With summer just around the corner, now is a great time to stock up on some great summer reading options for your children – no matter what their age.

Though as an educator, loving books and reading comes with the job, I want to make sure that you, our teachers, and students love books, too! It is especially important to continue to sharpen your child’s reading skills over the summer, so that they continue to strengthen all of the skills they learned throughout this year. Then, they’ll come back to school in the Fall excited to share about their reading adventures, and prepped to learn! Also, one of my favorite aspects of reading is how you can immerse yourself into someone else’s story, learn about something you never knew before, and expand your imagination.

I recommend involving your child in the process of choosing books for themselves. Stop by the Book Fair and make a deal to choose a couple for them and let them choose a few for themselves. Everybody wins! I also came across this article which is great for all parents – not just those of girls – to further inspire creativity and inquiry over the summer through some wonderful books: http://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=10940.

Books are everywhere – especially this week – and truly are for everyone. Find those that excite your kids and keep sparking their curiosity all summer long!

Warmly,

Johannah

Book Fair Information:

Book Fair is open Tuesday (8:00 am – 6:00 pm) Wednesday (8:00 am – 4:00 pm) Thursday (8:00 am – 4:00 pm and 6:00 -8:00 pmFriday (8:00  – 10:30 am)

If you want to volunteer, the link is http://vols.pt/obJo6F

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