Thursday morning was a great day for door duty during arrival. Not because it was a balmy 60 degrees at the beginning of a Cleveland winter that the entire community has been warning me about, but because I had really good company. Two eighth graders joined me at the door to welcome students into the school. Each stood by a door, smiled, and greeted students, parents, and staff as they walked in with good morning or boker tov.

About midway through arrival, a preschooler ran in the door with a big smile. He was stopped by another eighth grader in the hallway who pointed out who he had just run past. The preschooler turned around and saw that his middle school buddy was one of the students at the door. The smile got bigger, particularly when his buddy called him by name. He ran back, had a quick conversation, and with even more energy, bounced his way towards his classroom.

This is the power of our preschool-middle school buddy program. As you’ve heard before, each child in the preschool has a middle school buddy who joins them many times throughout the year for an activity that is planned collaboratively between the two divisions. Earlier this week, the buddies joined together again to share in a Chanukah celebration. Sitting in the promenade, together with Kathy Fromson, they sang songs, danced, and lit the chanukkiyah(Chanukah menorah). The enthusiasm and ruach (spirit) reverberated down the hallway and brought smiles to the parents volunteering at the Book Fair and to staff walking past. The activity concluded with classroom projects where the the buddies worked together to frost (and eat) cookies, play games, and make dreidels out of marshmallows.

The importance of this collaboration is not in the type of activity that is put together, but rather in the relationships that it builds between the two groups. Having an older buddy connects our preschool students to the rest of the school and sets their sights on the many opportunities that are in their future at Schechter. For our middle school students, a preschool buddy is more than just a lens into their past. It is an opportunity to learn how to mentor and serve as a role model for a younger child. They begin to understand what it means to have someone look up to you with wonder in their eyes and want to be just like you because you are the epitome of cool for them.

The power of a Schechter education lasts far beyond our doors and we want the connection to Schechter to last longer than just a preschool to eighth grade education. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, a number of our alumni took time out of their holiday celebrations to help us create a new brochure that highlights just how powerful a Schechter education is. You will find this new brochure in your re-enrollment packets next week.

To help us continue to build these relationships, alumna and faculty member Orli Rabkin has taken on the role of Alumni Coordinator. Our alumni just received the latest Alumni Note. If you are an alumnus or know one, please help us keep up with the many amazing things that our alumni are doing. Send us a kvell or give us an update on what’s happening.

This is how we forge Relationships for life.

Shabbat Shalom,

Dr. Ari Yares

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