Public speaking has been on my mind a lot lately. Maybe it’s because I know that I will be called upon to do this several times in the next weeks. As the school year begins to unwind, there have also been a number of opportunities for our students to speak publicly. Whether it was at the Yom Yerushalayim assembly, a board meeting, or the Sports Recognition evening, it has been a delight to see our students share their thoughts about a wide variety of topics.
For adults, public speaking is something that brings with it anxiety, fear, and a host of other emotions. Some of us simply just won’t do it while many of us view it as a necessary evil that we would prefer to do without. Very few of us have had any training or support in public speaking which adds to our discomfort.

For our students, this is far from the truth. As exemplified in our Yom Yerushalayim program, our fourth graders were able to speak eloquently in both Hebrew and English from the bimahin the Merkaz as they shared their studies of the modern state of Israel’s roots. Many of our eighth graders have given D’vrei Torah at board meetings in front of adults that they have never met. They share willingly of their studies and give glimpses into their personal lives as they interpret the week’s Torah portion.

Next week, our fifth graders will each have a moment to reflect publicly on their experience as Lower School students as they make the transition to our Middle School. Their teachers have been guiding them on how to pick what to say and how to speak with confidence, as well as  making sure them their volume, articulation, and cadence are appropriate.

There is no doubt in my mind that one of the most critical skills for our students to learn is to be an effective communicator. Sharing one’s thoughts in a public forum is a crucial element of this. In each of our grades, we provide a number of opportunities to hone these skills whether it is through reading Torah, being part of a class performance, or working on an individual speech.

The ability to speak with confidence and poise builds success for life. It is a lifelong skill that will pay dividends beyond speaking confidently at a bar or bat mitzvah. So the next time that you are asked to speak at a public event, instead of trying to imagine that you are speaking to an empty room, ask your Schechter student for some tips.

Shabbat Shalom,

Dr. Ari Yares
Head of School

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