For those of you who were unable to join us Monday evening at our Annual Meeting, the following is an opportunity to read the important opening remarks by Deb Massey and inspiring vision of Andy Hess, our new Director of Academic Excellence/Assistant Head of School.
Head of School Opening Remarks
Community. When asked to describe what is outstanding about Tehiyah - it's our community. We are a community of committed families, teachers, alumni and grandparents who believe in the importance of a Jewish community day school in the east bay. We treasure the values that are taught and integrated into the daily learning, into the daily fabric of the School's core. And we understand the importance of a Jewish education for our children - providing a solid foundation in the skills that will last our children lifetime.
Tonight, we come together as a community to celebrate Tehiyah's accomplishments over the year and to recognize the great challenges that face us as we move forward. Instead of only presenting to you the highlights, we are going to also ask for your participation. We are seated at small tables on purpose- to offer everyone's voice to be heard and ideas to be shared. We want to know what is on your mind. We want your involvement, your creativity and your commitment.
Next week, we will be graduating 27 eighth graders. We invite you to come to the graduation and hear from the students how their Tehiyah education has impacted their life. Talk to their parents and listen to their stories. Graduating from Tehiyah in 8th grade is not only about what has been learned in the classroom, but much more about the making of a young adult who is poised and ready to enter into new situations and environments. We always hear from high schools that they can tell who are the Tehiyah graduates- that they know how to advocate for themselves, and they have a strong sense of self. And most of all, that they are good people. Our Tehiyah graduates are mensches. We are so proud of our Tehiyah alumni.
This year marks the launch of Tehiyah's Bridge to the Future- the implementation of the educational frame of our recently completed strategic plan. Through focusing on five pillars of educational excellence, the Bridge to the Future Initiative will guide us into the next 3-5 years of educational change and growth.
We want to make sure we have full classes of Tehiyah alumni for years to come. We need you to partner with us to bring in new families. We ask you to commit to Tehiyah and let your child benefit from our programs from BK-8th grade.
We all need to come together as a committed Tehiyah community now. For our students today and for our future students. Thank you for coming to the Annual Meeting and showing your dedication. Tonight we will show that we are our strongest when we come together. We are grateful to your commitment and continued partnership- and now, let's get to work!
Progressive Education and the Bridge to the Future
I am thrilled to join Tehiyah as the new Assistant Head and Director of Academic Excellence.
I am very excited to be a part of this vibrant community and help build and scaffold the Bridge to the Future. I hope to do this by building capacity and collaboration amongst the faculty, students and families, revising the curriculum and reimagining what a progressive Jewish education looks like at Tehiyah.
I have been an educator for the past 22 years, working in both public and independent schools in different parts of the country. My experiences as a teacher, instructional coach, curriculum designer and staff developer have shaped my educational philosophy, as have my mentor teachers, thoughtful administrators and colleagues, and feedback from students and families.
Though the schools and communities I have worked at have been quite varied, there have been certain tenets of education that I have found to hold true, no matter what the population or school environment.
Progressive Education: I consider myself a "progressive educator". The term "progressive education" was coined by educator and philosopher John Dewey and can be interpreted many ways. The term originated in the progressive era around the turn of the 20th century, as an approach to education reform. While there have been many interpretations of "progressive education", many of the primary beliefs have remained consistent for more than 100 years.
I want to share briefly three pillars of progressive education that I think are very important. There are more components of progressive education, but tonight I wanted to focus on just three. Deb will then share how some of these progressive education ideals will be adopted and implemented in the curriculum and program in the coming years.
To me, progressive education in 2017 means that a school is forward thinking,
adopting current best practices and 21st century learning ideals. Progressive education is rigorous- paying attention to new standards such as the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. Progressive education explores blended learning models using technology as a tool. And progressive education places a focus on social-justice and building a stronger democracy (as John Dewey imagined) through community service work and service learning.
Another pillar of progressive education is the idea that children "Learn by Doing" through meaningful and authentic work. Through my experience and education, I have come to believe that education is most meaningful and relevant through hands-on learning and self-discovery.
John Dewey and another well-respected educational philosopher, Jean Piaget, both believed that education should be a combination of exploration, play and reflection, which enlarge a student's understanding and experiences. This constructivist learning theory of "learning by doing" has become the backbone of my teaching during my tenure as an educator. In the classroom this will look like: student-centered learning, project-based learning, reading and writing workshop, and more collaboration among students both within their class and cross-grade levels.
Recently, through my consulting work, teaching teachers, I have found that the same ideal of "learning by doing" holds true no matter what the age or experience of the student.
A third pillar of Progressive Education focuses on educating the "whole child". Progressive educators recognize that educating a child's mind is not enough. As educators we are tasked with teaching our students hearts, bodies and spirits. This aspect of progressive education includes social-emotional learning, conflict resolution work, community building work, mindfulness, outdoor education and physical education.
Tehiyah is already embracing many of these pillars of progressive education! The Bridge to the Future will only bring Tehiyah closer to defining what that looks like here and the school's unique interpretation of these ideals.
In my first few months I want to learn as much as I can about the school. Please feel free to contact me individually to share your hopes and dreams for the Bridge to the Future.
I am thrilled to help Tehiyah take the next steps in this journey.