Monday, November 8, 2010

Mother Sees Child's Needs Accommodated

I have invited JAWC parents to contribute their thoughts to my blog. Here is what the mother of a boy in the 4-5 class has to say.

"J. arrives and leaves school with a smile. At JAWC he is growing spiritually, emotionally and academically. (At JAWC) we never have to worry about his academic growth being stunted or him becoming bored. If he is ready to do work in the next grade level, his teachers accommodate him. I love that the learning achieved there is not one dimensional. He is able have his imagination to soar, to express his thoughts and ideas, and to be heard. One year when students were doing standardized testing, and it was not his year to participate, he was curious and asked if he could also take the test. He was not only permitted to go ahead, but was encouraged to do so."

Monday, November 1, 2010

Note from a Parent

I've asked parents to contribute some posts. Here is not from a Mom who has two sons at the school. The youngest is in the K-1 class and the oldest in the 4-5 class.

"I wanted to share with you the great joy I experienced the weekend of Sukkot from my boys carrying over their Jewish Academy experiences. D. (the kindergartner) and his buddy were belting out their benching on Friday after lunch at the shul. Also, at Sunday school (they attend a Conservative synagogue) R. (the 4th grader) took the lead in singing Ashrei in his class. He regaled me all the way home with the full prayer, even though they were only working on the first line! D. and R. continued to sing the Shabbat songs they have been practicing in Judaics all day on Sunday, for fun. Finally, D. has been locating and announcing hechshers on grocery items, drink and candies. Much to his surprise and joy, Laffy Taffy is kosher!"

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

School Started Today

This morning the Jewish Academy started its third academic year. R is in 2nd grade!

This year, we have all primary grades. All of the classes, K-1, 2-3, and 4-5, are about the same size, ranging from 5-7 kids. In addition to two new teachers, we have hired a couple, Rabbi Lev and Dossi Cotler, to help Rabbi Aaron Herman with administration and Judaics. They are so nice, so excited and energetic, and the parents are just thrilled to have them here.

R. woke up bright and early this morning and had her usual getting dressed crisis, even though she had chosen what uniform elements to wear the night before. "This white shirt is too long. It covers the bow on the front of my skirt. I don't want to tuck it in. I want to wear the clips with the bright yellow hair piece. No, I want to wear my new headband. No, I want a ponytail..." Oy. She finally figured it out.

She got there on time with a smile on her face, walked right in and started the day. I'm not sure I even got a wave goodbye. She is very excited about Morah Jodi Gore, who also happens to be her summer swim coach, being her teacher. I am excited as well. I helped Jodi set up the classroom one day, and it is so warm and inviting, as well as academic. I think it's going to be a great year.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Micrography, Oil Spills, and L'Cha Dodi.

I taught art again last Friday. We made picture for Mothers Day, inspired by Micrography or Microcalligraphy. Micrography is a style, often seen in Jewish art, where text is used to actually create an image. Lines of text are used as lines. Different density of text can be used for shading.
We started by writing a few sentences about Mom. Some of the kids wrote two sentences, some filled a page. Next we used pencil to lightly sketch out an image. The kids then either outlined their images with the text. Some used crayon to add some color, and then traced the letters using sharpies. We then erased the pencil lines. We spent about an hour and fifteen minutes on the project, most of the kids taking almost that entire time to complete it. One of the Moms came up to me and thanked me, saying the picture and the things their child wrote made her cry (happy tears, of course.) I was very proud of how seriously most of the children worked on the project.
Then we had a short Shabbat circle. The kids started the circle by telling Rabbi Aaron a bunch of riddles and jokes. That could have gone on for the entire session so Rabbi Aaron told them to tell him all of the rest of their jokes after Shabbat circle. They then talked about the oil spill. The children had read a book about oil spills, and had a science lab related to oil spills. They had all sorts of information to share about why oil spills are a problem and some of the ways people try to clean them. Rabbi Aaron then talked about the Torah, and how it has no title pages. How do we know when we are moving from one book to the next? Because there is a big space between the last line of one book to the first line of the next book. Where do the books get their Hebrew names? From the first important word in each book.
Then they sang L'cha Dodi, like they do every week. R., who had just returned from Israel, shared that she had been in the courtyard in Tzefat where the song L'cha Dodi was written in the 16th century, and that she sang the song while she was sitting there. Rabbi Aaron pointed out how the author, Rabbi Shlomo Alkabetz, wrote it as an acrostic poem, putting his name, Slomo ha'Levi, into the first letters of the lines of the song. He held up a siddur to show them where they could find his name.

Let your child come visit for the day

I was having a conversation with a parent whose child is very unhappy in their current school. My proposal, let the child come spend a day at the Jewish Academy.

Did you know that your child, even a rising kindergartner, is welcome to come spend the day attending class with the Jewish Academy students? This is part of the beauty of a small school. We can be flexible. The teacher is not concerned that your child will be disruptive or make her day more difficult. The students in the class are kids who know how to treat a stranger, so they are going to be as welcoming as a group of K-2 kids can be.

I say, go for it. If you are unhappy with your child's school situation or are trying to make a decision about kindergarten, just let your child give us a try.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Notes for the Kotel

My family is going to Israel. R. is very excited. She has learned quite a bit about Israel, having been first in a Jewish preschool and now in a Jewish Day School, and is ready for the trip. One special thing R. has on her schedule in Israel is putting notes in the Kotel (Western/Wailing Wall) for her class. The notes are in a ziplock. She knows she has a very important job. Many of them have the word "private" written on the outside and R. made it very clear to my husband and I that we are not to read her friends' notes, that they are private prayers and requests to G-d.

Amy Ripps visits for Shabbat Circle

A week ago we had a really special visit from Amy Ripps, the Director of Education at Beth Meyer Synagogue. She was the visiting Jewish Educator during Shabbat Circle.

Amy, who is always a terrific story teller, told the tale of a bear who is hanging out in a building in Brooklyn, steeling the honey for Grandmother's Shabbat kugel as family members return from the store. The grandmother keeps repeating to the members of her family who come back from the store with no honey "But there are NO BEARS IN BROOKLYN." The children all joined in a chanted this chorus with Amy, giggling. Finally the Grandmother goes to the store herself. When she is harrassed by the bear she discovers that he is lost and invites him to Shabbat dinner. I love this story because it is a wonderful, funny way to teach that one should open their heart and their home to the person who has nowhere to go for Shabbat and Holidays.

In addition to Amy's story, many of the students read entries from their classroom journals to the group. Some of the entries were short, some of them were very long. What I always find amazing is how the students sit patiently and listen to their classmates, applauding at the end of each story. One little girl read a very long story about all sorts of weird things that kept showing up in her lunchbox. Sometimes it was gross. Sometimes it was silly, but she read the whole story and everyone listened attentively. She wasn't rushed or cut off, even when it was clear that we were going to run out of time, because allowing a little girl to read her entire story is very important.

This is another wonderful thing about being in a small school with an engaged population of parents. We ran out of time. Parents arrived and stood around the classroom, but nobody took their child. There was no carpool line that needed to be managed. Everyone waited patiently and listened to the end of Shabbat Circle. Even the tween older sister who had run in to get her brother, whose Mother was waiting in a running car in the parking lot understood that the right thing to do was just to wait, enjoy listening to the kids read their journal entries, to Amy telling her story, and to sing L'cha Dodi together to welcome the upcoming Sabbath.