It has been a terrific year at Schechter Manhattan. As I look back on my year of columns for Daf Kesher, I am reminded of the many things the students, faculty, parents, and friends of Schechter Manhattan did this year.
Not surprisingly for a school, many of the columns were focused on the teaching and learning happening at Schechter Manhattan. Classrooms were filled with constructivist and differentiated learning. Teachers utilized varied and authentic assessments to get to know their students really well. Students worked on challenging learning projects, like the 7 grade study of the federalist papers. We kicked off the Lieberman Family STEAM Center with a community wide event in the fall and a Maker Fair and Steam Fest in the spring. New and improved STEAM units were integrated into every grade, the scope and sequence of the science curriculum was revamped, and every teacher in the school participated in ongoing professional development in STEAM. Teachers worked hard, planning and implementing high level instruction and caring for their students. They collaborated with the Educational Leadership Team and each other to always improve their practice through professional development working groups.
As we do every year, we continually reflect and work to improve. At the very beginning of the year, on Rosh Hashana we reflected on what type of people we hoped to be and how we can problem solve to do better. Some colleagues and I participated in the Rabbinics Standards and Benchmarks project with Jewish day school educators from across the field to develop a compendium of what is most important for students to learn in area of Rabbinics.
The year was filled with community building too. On Sukkot the middle school participated in the ancient Hakhel ritual, gathering as a community to hear the Torah read aloud. We met throughout the year in Gesher groups, building cross grade relationships that help our school feel like a family. The Parents Association led amazing community events, such as the wonderful Shabbat dinners that so many of us enjoyed together in the winter and the Shabbaton in the spring. Schechter Manhattan families and friends came together for our Annual Dinner and Auction, an inspiring gathering of people who believe in and support our mission. The community has also come together to support Schechter Manhattan through our Annual Campaign Spring Match, which thanks to the leadership of four Schechter Manhattan families, exceeded our goals.
We built community both inside the walls of the school and beyond them. We taught students lessons of menschlichkeit, care and respect for other human beings, and participated in community service projects. Students and parents talked together about how to make decisions about where to give during the tzedakah roundtable. We had special programs, such as viewing testimonial videos of Holocaust survivors on Kristallnacht and meeting a member of the armed forces on veterans day.
This year was sadly also filled with difficult times around the world. As we are still reeling from the horrible attack in Orlanda, it is saddening to look back and find three different Daf Kesher columns this year about terror attacks, in Israel, Paris, and Brussels. We continue to pray for a time when the world will be blessed with peace.
There were also opportunities to celebrate. We lived Judaism in vibrant, meaningful, and joyous ways. We shook our lulavim on Sukkot, sang Israeli songs each Rosh Chodesh in Shira B’tsibur, and conga danced into the street on Yom Mishe Mishe. We prayed every day and worked to connect to the meaning of the t’fillah, as when the first grade students explained their understanding of the amidah at their Siyum Ha’amidah program.
This year we connected to the land, state and people of Israel. In December Minister of Education and Diaspora Affairs, Naftali Bennett, visited Schechter Manhattan. After meeting our impressive students and singing Hebrew songs with us, he told us as a representative of the government of the State of Israel that wherever we are in the world or our lives we always have a Jewish country that care about us. After Minister Bennett tweeted about how great Schechter Manhattan is we found ourselves at the center of a world wide Jewish controversy when Chief Rabbi David Lau denounced Minister Bennett for visiting us. It was heartening to hear and read the many voices of support for our important school community that were expressed in response. Our 8th grade students had two incredible weeks of travel and learning in Israel this spring, filled with meaningful experiences that will stay with them for a lifetime. And we joined the larger community of supporters of Israel when we marched up fifth avenue at the Celebrate Israel Parade.
We also marked transitions, proudly sending off our graduates to an impressive array of NYC high schools and welcoming the beaming faces of our newest students, the incoming class of 2025.
What a year. As we look to the summer, I believe we all deserve a sense of deep satisfaction for what we have contributed and accomplished as members of the Schechter Manhattan community. I, for one, am looking ahead with great excitement to the coming 2016-2017 school year. Wishing you all a restful summer break.
THIS WEEK WE ARE FEATURING WORK BY SOME OF OUR STUDENTS IN KITAH ALEPH, KITAH GIMMEL, KITAH HEH, KITAH VAV, KITAH ZAYIN AND KITAH CHET.
Kitah Aleph just finished its author study of Mo Willems. Below are some excerpts from the children’s own books featuring the Pigeon.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Get a Dollar
Can I have a dollar? Dollars are awesome dollars are cooool!! dollar! dollar! dollar![…]For a dollar i’ll give you 2 dollars[…]My cousin bob gets a thousand a day[…]GIVE ME A DOLLAR THIS SECOND RIGHT NOW!!!!!
Don’t Let the Pigeon have Gum
Can I have gum[?] Gum Gum Gum Gum! Gum! Gum! I love gum! I love chewing gum and blowing bubbles! I love the strawberry flavor! I want gum!I won’t play around with it. It won’t get in my feathers[…]I WANT GUM!!!!
Don’t Let the Pigeon go to israel
Can I go to Isral on the Plane? I cant Wait to land in Israel! mY BiG SiStr [sister] gts [gets] to Go to Israel…I won’t flap my wings on the airplane! I can help fly the plane if the pilot is tired!…Not fair! Everyone gets to go to Isruel except me!…Let Me go to Israaaaael!!!!
Don’t Let the Pigeon Spend too much Money
Hey! Kan I spend my 298 dollrs in my piggie bank? yae I’m going to be rich!!!!!!! Haw ubowt [how about] this, I’ll give you haf the munee [half the money]!?How abawt I give most of the munee to the pore. I’ll by [buy] ejukashinl [educational] books!…Humf!…No fare! OK wut evr [whatever]
Kitah Gimmel wrote a ‘how to survive 3rd grade’ piece for the incoming class. Kitah Gimmelstudents have also been writing about the characters in the books they are reading.
I have some tips for the incoming 3rd graders. You shouldn’t get upset if your first model of a project doesn’t work. Homework can be hard, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. In fact, I often need help with my homework. I would recommend being good for the whole year to get cultural day. These tips helped me, I’m sure they’ll help you.
If I had to choose my favorite character I’ve read about in school this year, it would be Roald Dahl. I’m reading his autobiography. He is my favorite character because he writes his autobiography using very descriptive, juicy language. This is the first Roald Dahl book I’ve read and I like it because he put in interesting, important and main memories from his life. Another reason why he’s my favorite is because I like that in sad times he was still a happy boy. He ‘s an inspiration to readers in many ways.
Kitah Heh studied various topics related to immigration and wrote research papers.
Kitah Vav has been researching a Mitzvah Bein Adam LaMakom (a good deed between a person and God) of their choice in preparations for their end-of-year Jewish Studies Exhibitions. Students presented their research to their parents and peers. Here are some of their final papers.
Kitah Zayin wrote essays on the applications of ratios and proportions as well as writing summaries of solutions to math questions they invented.
Kitah Zayin has been researching a Mitzvah Bein Adam L’Chavero (a good deed between a person and another person) of their choice. Here are a few of their final research papers.
Mazal tov to our wonderful class of 2016! We are so thrilled for all that you have accomplished. Here are the collaborative presentations that the class made during last night’s graduation ceremony.