The phrase “The First 100 Days” was coined by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933. He was referring to a session of Congress. Since then, the phrase has been co-opted by schools, government administrations, and business leaders to reflect on the first several months of a new period.

With a few extra days off for cold, the 100th day of Schechter has been a moving target. Barring any major snowfall, we will get there on Tuesday. That means that the year is more than half done. It means that our incredible 8th grade class will “soon” be leaving for their trip to Israel and then graduating. It means that our kindergarteners will fill the hallways with their wonderful projects. It also means that I have now passed the six month mark at Schechter.

As you know from talking with me and reading my other blog posts, one of my personal goals is to make the school more transparent. Parents and board members should have a solid understanding of where the school is and where we are headed.

So I want to share with you some of my goals for the year, and highlights of the progress that’s been made so far.

1. Develop a strategic vision for our school’s future. 

  • Along with an ad hoc committee, we are building an initial school vision and capacity building proposals that will be vetted by the board of directors in the near future.
  • We are working to build the school’s presence in the community by meeting and working collaboratively with area rabbis, school heads, and other agency executives.

2. Support a school culture that values accountability, professionalism, innovation, transparency, collaboration, and is positive.

  • Weekly staff meetings are being held to collaborate on programming and building space use, for staff trainings, and division planning.
  • A school-wide project map has been developed to track and organize work on programs and processes.
  • A group of staff have begun training in design thinking, through the Day School Collaboration Network, to enable problem solving in a unique way on school-wide issues.
  • Orli Rabkin (Schechter Class of 1991) is now our school’s alumni coordinator, working to maintain relationships with our alumni.
  • Through the Shavuon and Tuesday update, we are keeping you informed about the incredible things happening here each week.
  • Schechter is excited to now be partnering with JFSA to provide the school’s health services for a stronger program.

3. Fiscally strengthen our school.

  • Enrollment for this year is now at 271, almost a 5% increase over last year.
  • Next year, we are creating a five days per week, full-day program for two year olds.
  • We have already raised more than 70% of the funds towards our fundraising goal of $1,000,000!
  • Our Development Department is rolling out a corporate sponsorship plan, has plans for expanding designated giving, and is working with anonymous donors on the Parent Match (will you help us get to 85%?), and other programs.
  • With the help of our new Coordinator of Special Projects, Purim Bash planning is well underway, honoring Michael Diamant and Cari Marderstein. Invitations have arrived in your mailboxes and we’re looking forward to an exciting night!
  • We regularly meet with constituents to hear their ideas, learn their passions, and answer their questions.
  • We requested, and received, a grant of $305,000 from the Federation’s Emergency Reserve Fund to assist with eliminating previously accumulated debt. Federation’s partnership and vote of confidence in the school is incredibly important.

4. Support and enhance our academic program.

  • Each day, the administration connects with our students and teachers through classroom visits so we can better understand teaching and learning at Schechter.
  • Implementation of the Common Core math curriculum has begun.
  • The Middle School has implemented monthly Tikkun Olam Programs.
  • The Reading Week program was expanded to the Read for Life – Go of the Gold program to encourage students to read more.
  • Our school’s social-emotional curriculum has been updated to better support the needs of our students and to help them live a life of derech eretz (path of good living).

It’s been a busy 100 days (well, really six months) and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s important for me that you — current parents, board members, alumni parents, donors, friends — know where the school is headed. There are many details that make up each day as I try to reach and exceed my goals. But having them out there in a transparent way means that you can help me meet them.

Being that you’re getting this via email or reading it on a website, we’ve come a long way since FDR’s radio address of the first 100 days. May we continue to grow and develop.

Shabbat Shalom,

Dr. Ari Yares

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