Once again, a school year is coming to a close. On Monday, we honored our 5th graders at the Night of Reflection and tonight, we will celebrate our entire school at our Promotion and All-School Concert. I want to take this opportunity to thank each of you for being a part of our community – it’s an investment of time, money and energy, but as our 5th graders demonstrated on Monday as they each spoke about what SJCS has meant to them, it’s an investment that lasts a lifetime.
As our thoughts turn to summer, I wanted to take a moment to reflect upon our school year – our milestones and many successes – and share some of what the coming year holds.
I want to start by thanking everyone who participated in the Measuring Success Parent Survey that we completed earlier this year. As we plan for coming years, the information we collect from surveys such as these provides valuable guidance for our strategic planning. And, the results in many ways confirmed what we had already suspected: that SJCS parents are committed partners and passionate advocates for your children’s’ education. Here are just a few of the results:
There is a lot more information to share from the survey and we will do so in gatherings this fall – and you will see areas of improvement and investment at SJCS based on our learnings from the survey.
This year, our 2nd and 5th grade classes participated in a pilot program for a new social studies curriculum, StoryPath. This program is based off a principal very dear to us at SJCS: that children learn best when they are active participants in their own learning. Long a pillar of our Jewish Studies program, this idea came to life during General Studies as our 2nd graders formed Native American family units and our 5th graders hotly debated the urgent issues of Colonial times. Asked to share their favorite moment of General Studies as part of Monday’s Night of Reflection, nearly every 5th grader responded “the Colonial Boston Unit.” In May, all SJCS teachers received training from StoryPath creator and Seattle University Professor Dr. Margit McGuire and we are excited to roll StoryPath out to the entire school this coming year.
We are also excited to have begun an updated assessment of our Jewish Studies curriculum, with the near-term goal of creating a new set of benchmarks which will apply a standards-based approach to our curricular development and delivery across each of our grades. As a part of this initiative, we spent this year working on an updated “Portrait of a Graduate” which mapped the qualities that we expect to see in an SJCS grad against our school’s mission, vision and values. With support from the Samis Foundation, we are now contracting with JTS – the Jewish Day School Standards and Benchmarks Project to create a professional development program for our Judaic Studies faculty. 5th grade teacher Rabba Emily Meyer will be our program lead and we’re looking forward to sharing the results of our assessment as the year progresses.
Every three-to-five years, our Board of Trustees undertakes the creation of a new strategic plan for SJCS. The creation of this plan seeks to take us out of the realm of the daily operations of a busy elementary school to give thoughtful consideration to our overarching goals for SJCS, including curricular design and delivery, student support, faculty development, recruitment, community engagement, marketing and fundraising. Our administration and members of the Strategic Planning team are currently working closely to develop a plan which will be presented towards the end of the calendar year. This is an exciting – and challenging — endeavor for all of us and we feel extremely fortunate to have some of our community’s most innovative and thoughtful minds tasked with this project.
Although there’s much more that I could discuss here – the successful opening of our Shalom Room, our increased use of Responsive Classroom techniques, our coming technology and math specialist roles – I will conclude by welcoming our new families to SJCS and acknowledging our departing staff members and families. You have been an integral part of our community: humble and committed, without seeking recognition or reward. You have contributed far beyond what is expected of you and each of you, in your own way, has made a difference to SJCS. We thank you for your tremendous service to our school. Finally, to our graduates, we wish you a successful journey. I know you will go far, because at SJCS, you have been provided with the foundation that will help you achieve your dreams.
As you know, my door is always open to you – please call, email or stop by with any questions about the SJCS educational experience. You have entrusted us with a sacred task and we treat this with utmost care.
I’m looking forward to seeing you at 6:30 tonight for our Promotion and All School Concert.