“Uncommon Connections” – Looking Past the 2015 NAJDSC – What Happens “Right Now”?

The 2015 North American Jewish Day School Conference has only been over for a couple of days, and I am already thinking about the future…

But before the future, I bit of a recap on the past and the present…

Last week, before the conference, I blogged about my hopes and expectations, ending with:

We are proud of the work we have done with our sister networks to create what we hope will be a meaningful learning experience for all participants. We have all worked hard to ensure the quality of content while trying to maximize access.  Schechter will have a strong showing and we look forward to our annual opportunity to be together.  But in addition to the networking, the learning, the socializing, and the celebrating, we also hope this conference shows what happens when networks work together for the greater good, deepening and strengthening our collective service to the field.

I think it is safe to say that with regard to the conference itself…mission accomplished!

In terms of my own experience, let me insert here that which I have already shared elsewhere through various social media, if for no other reason then to have it all conveniently stored in my primary reflective vehicle – this blog.

Here is how it started:

Here is the summary of my experiences:

Here is my first presentation:

Here is my second presentation:

My experiences of the conference were as cohost, presenter and network head.  I, not to my surprise, but to my disappointment, was unable to attend anything outside of those roles.  I experienced the keynotes and the receptions along with participants, but not the playground space, the vendors, or the actual sessions themselves.  The feedback I have received – solicited and otherwise – has been overwhelmingly positive and I look forward to reading the official survey for confirmation.

But as with any other conference or significant professional development experience, to close the loop with the powerful opening, what should be happening “right now?  How do we ensure that all the learning, all the new relationships, and all the enthusiasm from gathering over 1,000 passion-driven leaders from across the field is leveraged to the greatest good?

Since it came early and without the greatest sound system, I do want to make sure that you know we are actively engaged in answering those questions.  Those of us charged with stewarding the field as executive directors of national networks opened the conference with a statement about “how we can serve the field together”.

What are we thinking “right now”?

Imagine a system that effectively and efficiently delivers support in every area you need—financial strength and stability, professional development in 21st century pedagogies, new thinking to implement the Jewish mission of your school, participation in nationwide student contests, lay and professional leadership development, holistic school-based assessment and improvement, and networked connections among schools.  Imagine a system that recognizes the diversity of our schools, addresses their unique needs, and serves the field in an aligned and concerted way.

Could you have imagined it before this incredible conference?  Can you now?

Author: Jon Mitzmacher

Dr. Jon Mitzmacher is the Head of the Ottawa Jewish Community School. He was most recently the VP of Innovation for Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools.  He is the former Executive Director of the Schechter Day School Network.  He is also the former head of the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School, a K-8 Solomon Schechter, located in Jacksonville, FL, and part of the Jacksonville Jewish Center.  He was the founding head of the Solomon Schechter Day School of Las Vegas.  Jon has worked in all aspects of Jewish Education from camping to congregations and everything in between.

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