One of the joys of my being a school administrator is to get to observe incredible teaching and learning experiences that take place throughout the school day. Most often these experiences occur in the classroom, and this week was no exception. As I wandered from classroom to classroom, I saw students thinking hard about complex subjects and teachers passionately pushing students to challenge themselves just a little bit more.

In 8th grade Spanish, students were melding their knowledge of colors and clothes to describe themselves, their classmates, and the occasional celebrity. 10th grade geometry students carefully thought through the process of developing a proof based upon the postulates they had just learned. Peer editing and coaching from teachers guided the writing process in several classes as students sought to hone their writing skills. Bridges were being built, tested, and redesigned as Sci-Tech students brought design principles and their understanding of physics and materials together to build bridges out of paper and toothpicks.

Of course, not all of this learning took place inside the classrooms. In a meeting this week, our High School Student Government tackled the problem of cafeteria cleanliness by developing strategies to help ensure that our cafeteria and hallways remain clean after lunches are over. Elsewhere, Paw Print reporters and editors worked to prepare the next issue of our high school paper for publication. Middle Schoolers saw their signed “Roaring to Respect” posters placed throughout the building as a reminder that, in every setting of our school, we need to demonstrate respect for self, others, property, and learning.

This week, the students of the Upper School weren’t the only ones learning in our building. It began with a community group gathering to study with staff from the Jewish Theological Seminary on Tuesday. This JTS Kollot group will be convening on our campus once a month, and we are delighted to host them.

Another group from outside the Upper School wandered into the building on Wednesday, and suddenly the halls seemed a bit more crowded than usual. The reason? The entire fifth grade had come to the Upper School for the kick-off of their transition to 6th grade. A well-organized scavenger hunt had teams of 5th and 7th graders roaming the building looking for clues and solving problems presented to them by Upper School staff members. For our next class of 6th graders, it was a first real look at the Williston Park campus as their next school. Our thanks to Sandi Swerdloff, the teachers, and the 7th grade for helping make this event possible.

With their parents in tow, the fifth graders once again visited in the evening for the Middle School Open House. While the fifth graders learned even more about the school from Student Activities Director Mike Hirsch, Athletic Director Kerry Dalton, Guidance Counselor Bonnie Cahn, and Rabbi Josh Rabin, the parents settled in for three different presentations from the Middle School faculty which covered many aspects of our curriculum. Thank you to Ms. Polen, Mr. Clarke, Ms. Stanton, Ms. Dubow, and Ms. Hiltzik for guiding the fifth grade parents through the many touchstones of the Middle School curriculum.

The truly amazing portion of the evening came as several of our 8th graders joined a panel of school staff and 8th grade parent, Robin Bensignor, for a question and answer panel. Without blinking an eye, our students fielded questions from the audience about middle school life and their own experiences. We are very proud of how well they presented themselves and the school.

It has clearly been a delight to be back in school for a full week of learning, teaching, and growing.

Shabbat Shalom!

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