Category Archive for "Leadership Blog"

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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Our Annual Shabbaton – 45 Families Strong!

Dear Parents,

Our community continued to strengthen as 45 Day School families came together for our 2nd Annual ADAT Day School Shabbaton last Friday. Last year, we brought 32 families together at Camp Ramah, so with 13 more families this year, the ADAT spirit was even more powerful!

Our goal was to create a weekend that brought the community together in a casual environment – in ways that were both familiar and that were outside of one’s comfort zone and atypical. With the backdrop of the beautiful Ojai Valley, our families had an opportunity to hang out with long time friends, meet new ones, and have some quality time with their own families. We braided challah, held Kabbalat Shabbat services, took a family hike with the Camp Director, Rabbi Joe Menashe, played kids versus parents soccer, swam in the Olympic-sized pool and water slides, played GIANT games, celebrated Havdalah, and closed with fun taste and smell activities and Tikkun Olam projects to help the post-Thomas Fire Ojai/Ventura community. Our evening activities for kids and parents were a highlight with bingo, karaoke, and a talent show.

Beyond the activities and fun, perhaps the best part of the weekend was that special magic that happens at camp. The setting, the break from routine, the shared experience, and the fresh air bring out the fun and serenity we often need to “escape” to feel. We are ever-grateful to our generous donors who helped fund this memorable weekend, and to the families who sponsored and led parts of our Shabbaton. Here are just a couple of the comments from our Day School families who attended:

“Thank you SO much for allowing so many of us to come together for this lovely weekend. It was a spectacular community event, on a gorgeous campus, with all of our needs addressed, and a much-needed getaway. We appreciate you very much.”

“Thank you to ADAT for an awesome and memorable Shabbaton 2018. Was lovely to spend time with friends and family in beautiful Ojai. Something that I know my children will remember for years to come.”

Save-the-Date in your family calendar now for our 3rd Annual Day School Family Shabbaton: October 12-14, 2018.

Shabbat Shalom,

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A Joyous Week at ADAT

Dear Parents:

Another joyous week is in the books at Adat Ari El Day School … and the Shabbaton hasn’t even started yet!

Purim was celebrated and felt all around campus on Wednesday. Students in colorful and creative costumes were greeted with music and dancing at drop off; we joined the ECC for a Purim song session, story, and parade through each Adat Ari El building;  fun was had by students, faculty, and staff alike at our Purim Carnival. Thank you to everyone who made this day possible and for getting into the Purim spirit!

Today, we leave for our 2nd Annual Shabbaton at Camp Ramah, and the excitement around campus is palpable. We have an incredible weekend planned for nearly half of our Day School families, including games and activities, Shabbat, family time, adult time, and just plain old fun! We’ll miss those of you who couldn’t come this year, but hope you’ll be able to make it next year!

Last, but certainly not least, we have had an exciting and productive week receiving the majority of our re-enrollment contracts from you, our current families. Remember, our deadline for submitting the re-enrollment contracts via Parent Locker without penalty is today! If you’re leaving for the Shabbaton, please make sure to get it in before you leave. If you will be home, it is important to complete it by the end of day today. Nothing would make this week sweeter than to know that 100% of our families have recommitted to ADAT for the coming school year. I hope to be able to count every one of you as part of our Day School community again next year.

It was a full and fun week at ADAT and there is so much more to come! I wish you all a restful Shabbat and a wonderful weekend.



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Re-Enrollment Contracts Are Due Next Friday!

Dear ADAT Parents,

We are back to business as usual this week, while still feeling a tremendous sense of pride for each of our students after last week’s Intergenerational Day performances.

We wanted to remind you that your re-enrollment forms for 2018-2019 are due next week – Friday, March 2. Please note that March 2 is the date that most of our Day School families leave for our annual Shabbaton at Camp Ramah. So please, get started on your re-enrollment contracts soon, as there have been quite a few changes this year and we want to be able to have enough time to help you through the process.Each year, we arrange our enrollment calendar to give preference to our returning families for class placement and for financial assistance. In order for us to do this, you must complete your contract through Parent Locker and submit your deposit by this deadline. After this date, we immediately begin making our admission decisions, and money designated for current families requesting aid is automatically returned to the general pool and is then allocated for new family financial assistance awards. If we do not know your intent to continue at ADAT, your child’s place in class can be forfeited, and/or his/her financial aid award is no longer valid.

Our school has 110 students. Every. Single. Student. Matters. Please do not wait on your friends to make a decision first or think that your commitment to ADAT alone is not enough. It is. Every student that has committed to enrolling allows us to continue to build the best school possible for your children for next year, including hiring the most talented teachers in April – “prime time” for hiring.

There are many other reasons that the March 2 date is important, and we are happy to explain them further if you would like to contact us. In the meantime, please set aside a few minutes this weekend to complete your re-enrollment contract. That will give you the time to ask us any questions that may arise, and will allow us to continue to grow our school for the 2018-19 school year.

Complete Your Re-Enrollment Contract Here

Thank you,

Shara Peters                                      Sarah Schultz
Head of School                                  Director of Admission and Community Relations

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Parents in Charge

Dear Parents,

It is not news that parents are in charge of their children.  For the moments when our little negotiators cause us to question who is really in charge, we have the sage advice of Dr. Bruce Powell and Lori Getz, M.A. to guide us.

Using the acronym PAVES, Dr. Powell gave parents an easy-to-remember tool for raising ethical children, last Tuesday night.

P – Parental

A –  Actions

V – Values

E – Expectations

S – Supper

Parents in attendance at last Tuesday’s program appreciated Dr. Powell’s deep understanding of the challenges parents face in today’s world. He confirmed that parents can and should say, no, when it is warranted. He cautioned parents to be aware that children will mimic their actions and will absorb the values clearly displayed in the family. Children wish for and respond to parental expectations, so parents should take the time to think about the goals they assume for them and examine the priorities that are emphasized. Lastly, Dr. Powell sited research proving the benefits of family supper (without devices) in raising successful adults.

In October, Lori Getz reminded parents that the cyber world children join requires strict oversight.  “Letting your child be on the world wide web without supervision is like letting them walk out of the house to go anywhere they want by themselves,” she admonishes. We shouldn’t be misled by children’s apparent skill in navigating the internet by equating it with an understanding of its complexities and risks.

We, at ADAT, relish the opportunity to support parents in their challenging endeavors. By bringing distinguished speakers and being available to reassure and guide families, we get to be a part of the village that makes ethical, knowledgeable, strong grown-up people.



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Tu BiShevat: L’Dor V’Dor

Tu BiShevat: L’Dor V’Dor

One of my favorite things about Adat Ari El’s campus is all of the foliage. It is a singular joy as I walk my son, Ryan, in and out of the school. Ryan is a little over a year old and is only now a sturdy enough walker to step jovially from the parking lot and into the courtyard of ADAT. Along the way, he stops and points at all the roses, leaves, trees, and other plant life on our way to the ECC. After dropping him off on Monday mornings, I usually stop to take care of the plants in Tower Gardens (which have moved from the outdoor chapel to our lunch area).

Last week, this routine changed, when the Kindergarten class started to take over my responsibilities of these gardens. As part of a larger project, our Kinder “Garden” has started monitoring the growth of the herbs and lettuce that are growing. As they grow, our students will harvest them and will prepare salads and other treats for the rest of our community. The Kindergarteners are also revitalizing our Biblical Garden (the garden behind the DFC) with their Sixth Grade buddies. Similarly, Morah Mali is planting parsley with her First and Second Grade classes and the students are monitoring its growth. The First and Second Graders hope that their parsley will be ready to be dipped in salt water by Passover.

I cannot wait to see the impact these projects will have on our students. It is a miraculous experience to take care of a living thing, watch it grow, and have it – in turn – take care of you through the nourishment it can provide. The symbiotic relationship that humans can have with plants is a powerful one. This is why Tu BiShevat is a very special holiday to me. It is a reminder to be grateful to the trees for all that they offer us and a reminder of the responsibility we have to take care of them.

At the Rabbi’s minyan on Wednesday, Rabbi Bernhard read a story to our students that teaches the importance of taking care of the Earth for the next generation. This idea is most tangible to me when I walk my son to school. I watch him enjoy the splendor of the nature that I often miss because it hits him just at his eye-level. He stops and points, and I get to see the leaves or the flowers that I usually rush by, as if for the first time. When this happens, I am full of gratitude for the beauty that surrounds us here at ADAT and in the world. I am also aware of the awesome responsibility to protect our Earth for the next generation.

I wish you a wonderful and reflective Tu BiShevat. L’dor V’dor and Shabbat Shalom.


Lauren Quient

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The Intersection of Design Thinking and Jewish Education

Dear Adat Ari El Day School Parents,

Over the course of this school year, the K12 Lab Network has been hard at work training and coaching the teachers at Adat Ari El Day School in an innovative methodology called design thinking. Since that work has taken place largely behind the scenes in trainings, phone calls, and video hangouts, it’s a special pleasure to have the opportunity to write to you, the ADAT community, and brag about the great work your teachers are doing to make your child’s school more student-centered and innovative.

If you’re curious about design thinking, there are a number of great resources available online, including the Stanford website where you can also read about the work we do in the K12 Lab Network. Design thinking is a human-centered creative process used to solve problems and overcome challenges, and leans heavily on collaboration, navigating through ambiguity, and biasing towards action. Design thinking asks you to take an empathetic approach to problem solving, which means you look to understand how problems manifest in people’s lives, and combine that with a bias towards building solutions that can help improve those problems. In that way, design thinking integrates nicely with Jewish ethics, especially the attitude put forward by Tikkun Olam.

At ADAT, teachers have been exploring this intersection with Jewish education by invigorating stories we’ve been telling for eons with a creative mindset, like having students imagine how Noah’s Ark would be redesigned. 2018 has been especially energized: teachers have paired up and developed incredible lessons and projects that blend content knowledge with design thinking and maker activities in the ZDL. We’ve been continually inspired and impressed by the vigor with which your Day School’s educators across grade levels and content areas have collaborated in order to get creative projects up and running.

For the rest of the school year, each grade is exploring a different design challenge. In TK, they are building a house with blocks. Each room in the house will solve specific needs. Kindergarten is redesigning the Biblical Garden behind the DFC with their 6th Grade buddies. First Grade is exploring the question, “how can something small change the world?” Second Grade is getting ready for the transportation unit. This unit focuses on redesigning the transportation experiences of their parents. Second grade will also explore the modes of transportation in the bible like chariots and camels. Third grade is deeply immersed in their project to beautify our campus, and fourth grade is gearing up for their design of a California mission later in the year. Fifth grade will begin a project about community and what it means to have a “home,” while sixth grade will design a new “ancient” civilization that would support their specific personalities. As Adat Ari El teachers prepare to launch and refine these projects, they are working closely with us to create experiences that will engage their students’ curiosity, enlist their unique problem solving skills, and empower them to improve their world.

We will continue our work with ADAT over the next few months, and cannot wait to see the outcomes of these incredible projects. We think that the best is yet to come.


Ariel & Devon
K12 Lab Network @d.School


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