Over the last few months, I have been frequently asked the same question. It usually goes something like this, “Are you feeling settled in Cleveland?” or “How are you settling in?” The truth is that we felt settled and adjusted to Cleveland pretty quickly. Much of that was due to the warmth of the welcome that we received over the summer and the offers of support.

Feeling settled feels good. We know where things are. The close proximity of the Jewish community and the larger communal resources makes life here just a little easier. Even at work, I’m feeling settled in. My office is almost completely set up, I’m getting to know the kids, and now that we’ve had a full week of school, a sense of routine is almost within my grasp.

Feeling settled and settling, however, are two separate things. The first is good for my home life and adds a level of ease for my professional life. The second is great for home as we get used to our new environment and enjoy all that Cleveland has to offer. But, it is not what I want to have happen at work.

Settling means accepting the status quo and not taking a stance that we can grow and improve. Building on our many strengths and taking the school to the next step is something that has been a topic of conversation among the staff since the school year began.

The staff started the year with broad “How Might We” questions and these have led us to develop seven new, more focused questions to tackle (in no particular order):

• How might we foster empathy, resilience, and social problem solving in our students?
• How might we be a greener school?
• How might we support and implement more cross-curricular collaboration?
• How might we promote student leadership?
• How might we create experiences that emphasize our students’ emotional and spiritual connections to Judaism?
• How might we design learning experiences that foster student creativity and curiosity?
• How might we better meet the needs of individual learners?

These are questions that do not have simple answers and ones that we do not expect to have answers for overnight. Instead, our initial goal has been to brainstorm as many possible answers to these questions as we can. No idea is off the table.

Eventually, we will narrow our choices to a few ways of addressing the questions and begin to develop prototypes that we will try out in our school. As we proceed, we may find that we need to change the question, narrow the focus, gather more information, or look at it in a different light.

It has been an incredible experience watching (and joining in) as the faculty grapples with these questions. The mantra of “go for quantity” has yielded some interesting ideas and I am curious to see where they go. In that spirit, I invite you to join in our conversation by adding your voice to our brainstorming. Partner with us as we seek to find even more answers to these big questions.

Shabbat Shalom,
Dr. Ari Yares

P.S. I’m looking forward to welcoming Shabbat with so many of our 3rd to 5th grade families this evening. Over 140 members of the Schechter community will gather together to celebrate Shabbat. Wow!

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