Category Archive for "Leadership Blog"

Open House: One of the Greatest Nights of the School Year

Dear Parents:

Open House is one of my favorite nights on the school calendar. For me, our other administrators, and our teachers, there is so much joy in being able to show you the fruits of a year’s worth of your children’s hard work. And, what incredible work it was – projects, writings, new inventions, strings and guitar performances, and artwork overflowing with creativity, collaboration, knowledge, challenges, and subsequent growth. We are so proud of our students and all they have accomplished, and with that, we are ready to start closing the 2017-18 school year.

On behalf of the administrative team, I want to offer an extra special “thank you” to our incredible teachers. We are blessed to have a faculty that cares so deeply about our students’ learning, and their creativity and passion was evident in each and every classroom. In a thank you note to our faculty, Ms. Q said it beautifully: “I have spent my year continuously impressed by your tenacity, your love for your work, and (most importantly) your love for our students! Last night was no exception.” Kol Hakavod to all of our faculty and staff for their dedication and commitment to our students’ learning all year long and for a beautiful showcase of it last night.

Thank you, parents, for joining us last night and for taking such an active role in your children’s education. We are continuously grateful for your partnership and look forward to finishing the year off next week with a celebration of our 6th graders. For everyone else, we are excited to continue this amazing journey with you next year, welcoming new Day School community members with open arms.

Shabbat Shalom,


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A Week of Special Visits

Dear Parents:

Though the year is nearly over, we were fortunate to welcome several special guests this week to campus for some important visits:

CAIS Accreditation Visit
Just yesterday, CAIS (California Association of Independent School), an organization of approximately 200 elementary, middle and secondary schools in California, came to ADAT for a scheduled visit. Among those who visited were representatives from WASC (the Western Association of Schools and Colleges), the BJE, and of course, CAIS.

This visit was a regularly scheduled meeting during the accreditation cycle to see our school, and we had a full schedule planned for them. The team met with our teachers, administration, and board members to learn about the breadth of learning, administrative and board structure and policies, and get a progress report on all of the areas of our school (development, admissions, etc.).

At the conclusion of our visit, the accreditation team was “blown away” by the level of care our students receive from our administration, faculty, and staff. They noted that our unique approach to learning was one they hadn’t seen this way before. What’s more, they were very impressed by our pedagogic growth since their last visit in early 2014. Naturally, they also offered areas for improvement, which we plan to implement immediately. These items include developing a strategic planning process with our board and a fundraising strategy that ensures a sustainable future for our school.

Visit from Our Partners
Our collaborators from Stanford University’s, Devon Young and Ariel Raz, arrived this week, ready to work with our students in their classrooms on Tuesday and Wednesday. Here’s a recap of what they learned:

Our TK students learned how to give feedback that is “specific, helpful, and kind” and how to use the feedback of their peers to improve their drawings. Giving and receiving feedback successfully is a skill that is even challenging for adults! Watching our TK students give helpful feedback and applying that feedback to their drawings was wonderful to see!

Similarly, Devon and Ariel helped our 1st grade students practice the invaluable design-thinking skill of reflection. They used a “story mold” activity in order to describe what they have been learning in the ZDL all year. The students then used these reflections to complete their “Growth Mindset” sign that will be on display in the 1st grade classroom during Open House and will then move to its permanent home in ZDL 4.

Devon and Ariel led the 2nd grade through an Empathy simulation that allowed them to look at our school campus with fresh eyes and from the perspective of a head of school, a gardener, and an architect. They all said they noticed things around our school they had never noticed before. It is so interesting to watch our students step out of themselves and learn to be empathetic!

The upper grades applied their math skills to building prototypes, learned how to tell the story of their prototypes in order to gain interest from an audience, and completed a design thinking lesson conducted entirely in Hebrew by Ariel!

Our teachers shared that watching our partners with our students made certain aspects of design thinking “click” for them. We are so grateful to Stanford University’s for helping us to deepen our ability to implement design thinking in our classrooms and we are so inspired by their work with our students!

We are grateful to all of our faculty and staff who represented ADAT so beautifully to our guests this week. It was a wonderful week – filled with tremendous pride for our incredible school.

Wishing you a lovely and safe Memorial Day weekend!

Shabbat Shalom,
Shara and Lauren

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What Will You Be Reading This Summer?

Hi Parents,

What are you planning to read this summer?  For my annual summer reading letter, I am addressing you, because you are the ones who set the culture of your children’s summer.  Making it known that you are exploring books, especially choosing that special one for “Summer Reading” sends a positive message about reading to your children. The message is that reading is an enjoyable activity – one that is savored, even more so during breaks and vacations.

If you want suggestions, there are many places to find them. Magazines, such as People and Costco highlight a few books in each issue. Book reviews are available at the LA Times, New York Times, and NPR. If you get a chance, Barnes and Noble bookstores have selections for summer out on tables to whet your literary appetite. (Tip: the B&N store at the Grove validates parking with a purchase.)

Are you an e-book or audiobook reader? Amazon and Audible (an Amazon app with a monthly fee) have innumerable choices. My new go-to ebook/audiobook reader is OverDrive, an app that enables you to borrow books from the public library, for free!  I have it on my phone and am happy to show you how it works.

There is, of course, the public library, an innovation of our country’s founders.  My favorite is the Beverly Hills Library. Residents of Los Angeles can get a Beverly Hills Library card. The interior of the library is beautiful and just walking in makes me feel sophisticated.

This summer, the ADAT Administrative Team members are reading and discussing the book, Radical Candor, while the faculty will be reading The Courage to Teach. My personal choice for summer fiction reading will be The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger. Nell was my student when I taught second grade and this is her third novel.  

I am interested in hearing about your summer reading and how you chose your book or books. Bring your children along on your quest for a book and make sure to ask them,  “What are you planning to read this summer?”

Happy reading to all!




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Our Visit to the

Dear Parents,

Last week, our 6th graders visited Stanford University’s K12 Lab. This is the lab that our beautiful Zebrack Design Lab was modeled after. There, our students met up with our partners, Ariel Raz and Devon Young, who led them through a design challenge and asked them to define the following design thinking terms: “Empathy,” “prototype,” “iteration” and “process.”

The following is what our students said in response:

Empathy is thinking about other people and their emotions. It is seeing things from a different perspective.”

“A prototype is like a beta version, a model, or a first draft.”

Iteration means doing something again. It is how you find success.”

“A process is when you have to follow steps and as you finish each step, your idea becomes more and more complex.”

“You have to go through multiple steps and stages in your process to see what works and what doesn’t.”

Ariel and Devon shared that seeing our students “embrace design thinking during their time at the was incredible – their bias toward action, their willingness to fail and try again, and their focus on human-centered design came through. [They] left the session feeling doubly inspired to return to Adat Ari El later this month!”

It was so gratifying to see our 6th graders embody that which we hope to instill in all of our students in their own words and in a new environment. I cannot wait to see their final work at ADAT showcased at open house!

Shabbat Shalom,


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Admissions Update for 2018-19

Dear Parents:

As bittersweet as ending a school year can be, we are also excited for the 2018-19 school year. Since it’s May, we wanted to provide you with a recap of our admission season thus far:

For the 2018-19 school year, we are proud to welcome:

  • 14 new TK students
  • 5 new students entering our already amazing Kindergarten class.  
  • 109 total students so far, and we expect that numberto grow over the summer
  • 15 6th graders to the graduating class

In addition to all of this, we keep getting phone calls every day! Sarah has more tours lined up each week in May. Every tour that comes through has the potential of turning into an ADAT family.  

We have a new Parent Ambassador Program with parents who have been trained about ADAT and will continue to help our school grow. We are also starting a new buddy family program this year, where new families are paired with existing families to make the transition seamless for our new families.

It’s been a record year of inquiries, tours, and applications to ADAT, and we are thrilled with the result – a new group of committed, mission-aligned members of our community. I know you will join me in giving them our warmest welcome when the time comes. Until then, if you have any friends or family who are looking for a new school, always feel free to send them my way.


Sarah Schultz
Director of Admission and Community Relations

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Our Celebration Was a Blast … From the Past, Present, & Future

Dear Parents:

This past Saturday night, we had a blast – from the past, present, and future – with over 300 Day School parents, alumni, ECC, Synagogue, and community supporters joining us for our Day School’s 1st Annual Celebration – Back to ADAT’s Future. With a DeLorean and an ’80s theme as the backdrop, the vibrancy of our community was in full effect – dressed in ’80s costumes, noshing on delicious food, and having a blast dancing to the tunes of the Spazmatics cover band and a DJ. Check out the pictures here!

Among the highlights of the evening was a chance to showcase our new video showing our students living our mission everyday at ADAT. This is just one more piece of our year-long roll-out of creating, adopting, and integrating our mission into every aspect of school life. We hope you enjoyed it and will share it, comment, and like it on social media.

Of course, the evening was made even more special by honoring Haim Linder and his many accomplishments at ADAT over his 37-year career here. Haim’s impact has also been felt beyond the walls of Adat Ari El. As a dedicated volunteer in the Jewish community and, particularly, Israeli organizations, Haim has dedicated his life’s work to education, Judaism, and Israel. We were thrilled to meet and welcome so many of Haim’s friends in the Israeli community to ADAT and to celebrate Haim in this meaningful way.

On another note, I wanted to make sure that all of you have your calendars marked for the Celebrate Israel Festival – which will take place on Sunday, May 6, 12 p.m.-7 p.m., at Cheviot Hills Recreation Center. I will be there with my family, and I encourage all of you to join me for a day of fun, live entertainment, activities for kids, food, and community, celebrating Israel, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Learn more here.

If you come to the festival, please make sure to wear your ADAT clothing to show that our community is there in support!

Thank you all for making our 1st Annual Celebration a true success in every way. We couldn’t have done it without you or our incredible co-chairs Natalie Sirin and Anat Duvdevani. Your presence, spirited costumes, and energy made it an incredibly memorable evening for me, and I hope for you, as well. We cannot wait for what next year’s celebration will bring!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Shabbat Shalom,


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Instilling a Love for Israel on Yom Ha’atazma-ut and Everyday

Dear Parents,

Yesterday, Thursday, April 19, we celebrated the Independence Day of the State of Israel. This small country that is so near and dear to all of us is now 70 years old!

Preparing for this special day, I thought about what would be the best way to convey the importance of this day to our learners.

I decided that the learning about Yom Ha’atzma-ut should not only happen on the day itself, but in the weeks leading up to it, as well. I also wanted our students to take real ownership of the activities of the day.

Research shows that the best way to teach second language acquisition is through the use of authentic materials. These materials will help our students understand the richness of the language, the Israeli culture, and most of all, that Hebrew is not only the language of our history but a living language spoken in Israel today.

I want our students to love the Hebrew language and the culture and country of Israel. I also want them to understand that language and culture go together.

The authentic study of Hebrew and Israel does not not only occur between the classroom walls, but also in all the events that are held at our school and wherever they engage with the language.

Therefore, our preparation for Israel’s Independence Day involved engaging our students in the authentic study of Israeli culture. The students worked on projects related to Eretz Israel, which included: the places, the innovations and inventions, the poetry and singers, the army and Israel’s important personalities. Learning about Israel was driven by curiosity and resulted in a discovery of self. In the end, we presented everyone’s work in an exhibition.

Additionally, 5th and 6th grade students designed and ran stations for our celebration with the entire community. They had a chance to take a leadership role and, in so doing, the responsibilities associated with it. Everyone had a great time and the campus was buzzing with a deep sense of community and connectedness here and abroad.

Yom Ha’atzma-ut is a very special day in our calendar, and even more so on this momentous 70 years. We hope that this day, and every other day of our school year continues to instill a love of the land of Israel, its culture, and its language in our children’s hearts.

Hava Gabay
Hebrew Subject Head
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Post-Spring Break News and Updates

Dear Parents,

Welcome back from what I hope was a restful Pesach break! Personally, this break was exactly what I needed. I was able to be productive during the first week, crossing off many items on my to-do list that I usually can’t get to when our school is bustling and busy–and from the first night of Pesach until we returned to school, I put an away message on my email and voicemail, and was able to spend eight precious days with my family. I came back to school on Monday refreshed, thrilled to be back, and ready for what will inevitably be a whirlwind of a final six weeks of school.

There is a lot to update you about! Just before Pesach, our sixth graders decided which middle school they would like to attend. I’m very proud to announce that our students were accepted to the following middle schools:

  • Buckley
  • Campbell Hall
  • Heschel
  • Milken
  • Sierra Canyon
  • Westridge

We will have plenty of time as the year draws to a close to celebrate our sixth graders and their accomplishments. For now, I will simply wish them a hearty Mazal Tov!

Additionally, we are ready to announce our new Judaic Studies Director! After sifting through resumes and speaking with candidates, we’re thrilled that the best candidate for the position is our own Eric Chafetz. For those of you who don’t know Eric, you can read more about him in his bio below – he is currently the Assistant Director of the JLC, and teaches 3rd and 4th grade Judaic studies in our Day School. Eric will officially start in his new role on July 1!

I hope that everyone marks their calendars for Thursday, April 19, for our Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration. We will start during the school day at 2:00PM to celebrate with the students as a school community, and then at 3:30, we will join the synagogue community for a huge celebration, including Israeli dancing, an art project, REAL CAMELS!, a movie screening, dinner, and more. This will be an incredible opportunity for our whole community to join together, and I sincerely hope to see all of you there.

And last, but certainly not least, we are in the final stages of preparing for Back to ADAT’s Future, our First Annual Day School Celebration, honoring Haim Linder, next Saturday, April 21! If you have not had a chance to buy your tickets please do so! We look forward to a night of food, drinks, fun, and even some special surprises!

As you can tell, we’ve jumped head-first right back into school and are excited to share these precious last two months of this school year with all of you and your children.

With so much to be proud of and much to which I look forward,


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Reflections on the Past, Present, and Future

Dear Parents,

In only a week’s time, I traveled to Chicago as part of the Day School Leadership Institute retreat, returned home to ADAT, where our classrooms were buzzing with excitement at our s’darim and Pesach celebrations, and everyday, we are adding more students to our community as newly-accepted families enroll at ADAT. Each of these activities holds special significance for me, as they represent the past, present, and future.

In Chicago, I participated in DSLTI, a program of which I have been a part for almost two years. Heads of School in Jewish day schools are guided by mentors to provide engaging experiential learning opportunities, cutting-edge leadership development, ongoing mentoring, and the chance to collaboratively problem-solve with cohort colleagues. While I certainly miss my family during these trips away, what I gain is immeasurable. I have the chance to work with peers, learn all day long, and be truly present in this important work of developing myself for the betterment of ADAT.

Upon arriving to school on Wednesday, I was transported to the past and the honoring of our tradition as our students celebrated Passover in a variety of ways. Morah Solomon led Kindergarten & 6th Buddies and their parents in a festive celebration with songs and skits for everyone, while TK hosted their 5th grade Buddies for a special Pesach experience, discussing and singing the 4 Questions, playing Bingo, creating buildings and puzzles, reading Pesach stories, and sharing the symbolism of Seder foods before eating them! It is one of the greatest joys to watch our students celebrate our holidays and customs in unique and developmentally appropriate ways.

Lastly, I am particularly excited about our future. We have been through a lot together, and to have an admissions season that brought in record numbers of applicants, and to now witness the fruits of that labor in students who enroll is so exciting – for all of us. It shows me that the great work we are doing is getting noticed, so thank you for the role you play as parent ambassadors, and I know you will join me in welcoming our newest contingent of ADAT families when the time comes.

In the meantime, I want to wish you all a wonderful and meaningful Passover together, as well as a restful, safe, and enjoyable Spring Break. I can’t wait to see you all when we return to school on Monday, April 9 – when we will be just weeks away from joining together in the party of the year, Back to ADAT’s Future (register below or when your invitation arrives in the mail).



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What an Exciting Week!

Leadership Blog – What an Exciting Week!

Dear Parents:

As we conclude another wonderful week at ADAT, I can’t help but marvel over all we accomplish in a week’s time! Inside and outside the classroom doors, Pi Day was celebrated in educational, innovative, and fun ways by our entire student body this past Wednesday. Have you seen the photos on our Facebook page? Take a look, and you’ll see that we took Pi to new heights this year.

While the students were swirling about campus, inside the office and after-hours, we were prepping for the 2018-19 year … by sending out our admissions decisions to all our new applicants for the coming year! Thanks to the efforts of Sarah Schultz, our office staff, teachers, and parent ambassadors, we were able to bring in record numbers of prospective families, interview them, evaluate the children, and finally, we invited those who were a solid match for our school to join our flourishing community. We are so excited to have them join ADAT and add to the strength we have in numbers.

     Of course, all of this is in between learning about Passover, some of the leadership team attending a BJE leadership conference, and preparing for our upcoming Annual Day School Celebration on Saturday, April 21. We were able to capture many of your children on video this week, along with faculty, alumni, and staff, for some memorable montages especially for this event. You won’t want to miss it. Invitations will be mailed early next week, but you can register now by clicking here.
     Looking forward to the week ahead – I will be at a Leadership Retreat on Monday and Tuesday, but will return to Passover seders and spending the remainder of the week together before Spring Break.
     Wishing you a great rest of your weekend,
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