Now in my second year as Head of School, I feel the lightness of being new as well as the weight of the difficult year we have traversed together. Arriving at the height of a worldwide pandemic to a school well known for the community (kehillah) it builds posed a unique challenge. How will we keep our community physically healthy and emotionally safe from a distance? How can we create the special sauce of Kehillah through a Zoom screen?
I shouldn’t have worried. Our incredible faculty and staff created space and time to really teach and learn throughout a year of online schooling and our pivot back to campus in April. From a graduating senior, “Thank you for finding a way to make school work so incredibly well for me and my friends. I missed being on campus and seeing everyone in person but I’m grateful to be at Kehillah and to know that you care about our wellbeing and our learning.”
Since April of last year, we have been 100% on campus. In the spring, we required all faculty and staff to be vaccinated. This fall, we expanded that requirement to include all of our students. Being back on campus to start our year has been joyful. Our facilities team maintains a wonderful outdoor space, Kikar Kehillah (“Community Plaza”) and our health and safety team manages daily screening and weekly testing. Our layered mitigation strategies remain in place and we are having a great year.
Often last year, I would remind our community that we can do hard things and I’d ask us to lead with compassion for ourselves and others, recognizing that we are each going through this time in our own way. My deep appreciation goes out to our students, faculty, staff, and parents for remaining flexible, creative, patient, and caring. We’ve shown that we can do hard things, keep our community knitted together, and support one another with chesed (loving kindness).
Looking ahead, we are excited to build upon the strength of our student body and faculty. We’ve come back together to create our new normal. Returning to the classroom has been energizing for teachers and students. A Wrinkle in Time will debut outside in our Kikar Kehillah, fall sports are well underway, and we are gearing up for the winter season. Our college counselors are working closely with our 11th and 12th graders as they embark upon their college admissions journey and prepare for life after Kehillah. Our grade-level trips are back and better than ever, offering an opportunity for learning, fun, bonding, and community partnerships. Each trip is rooted in Jewish values, our Four Commitments, and designed to support our students in their unique identity formation and goals for future leadership.
It is our fervent hope that each of our graduates will play a critical role in making our world a better place.
As Head of School, I’m embracing opportunities to celebrate and share what Kehillah Jewish High School does especially well in teaching and learning. A “Jewish” education goes far beyond Jewish text, history, or cultural content, offering pedagogy that supports all learning. As a lifelong learner, I’m currently exploring the intersections of Jewish approaches to pedagogy with the science of learning and the ever-important skills of civil discourse. The applications of a deeper understanding of this can and will reach well beyond our walls.
If you are already a member of our community, I want to share my gratitude for all that you bring to our school and my excitement for the year ahead.
If you are considering joining our community, our kehillah, as your high school home, I invite you to connect with us and visit our campus. We look forward to welcoming you in person.
L’shalom and warm regards,