It is hard to believe, but June is around the corner and with it comes a crescendo of closing experiences marking the end of a remarkable year of re-imagination and revitalization. Looking back on the journey, I can honestly tell you that we are farther along than I could have hoped, and that the next year will bring us even closer to the school we are looking to become. You can see it in the numbers and you can feel it in the building. Enrollment is up and attrition is down. We have officially opened up a second kindergarten class as we are cresting towards 30 new kindergartners next year. And although we continue to pay very close attention to attrition from Grades 3 to 4 (largely due to French immersion) and Grades 6 to 7 (as we continue to watch the influence of high schools dipping down to Grade 7), and we will suffer some attrition, the percentages have decreased. We also have new students joining many grades, including five new students joining Grade 1.
Numbers matter. But feelings matter too. And a time of year that used to be fraught with anxiety – whether about enrollment or funding – is now filled with enthusiasm as we look to celebrate the year that was, and plan the year that is to come. There are big events still to come: Public Speaking Assembly, Entrepreneurship Day, Grade 8 Grad Trip, Girls & Boys Nights In, Walk-a-Thon, Yearbook Assembly, etc., all culminating in a celebration of our remarkable eighth graders at Graduation. There are also a few more “Transparency Files” to come as we look forward to providing a more detailed look at next year’s daily schedule and sharing out the 2018-2019 OJCS Faculty. That is a lot of activity for just five weeks!
For today, however, I would like to close one loop by sharing out a “movie” of last night’s Town Hall, the topic of which was “A Sneak Peek at Next Year”. I learned a new trick, which I am playing with here. I have converted the PowerPoint presentation into a movie. When you hit “play” it will begin scrolling the slides and will automatically play the embedded videos. You are welcome to hit “pause” at any point to give yourself more time to digest.
Because any good presentation consists of much more than you find on the slides, please know that you may not quite grasp the full meaning of each slide. (That’s why you should have come to the Town Hall!) To help make it a little more clear, however, I want to call your attention to the narrative flow…
You will find within, the four critical conversations we declared early in the year would be necessary for our school to take a leap forward: Transparency, Jewish Mission/Vision, French Outcomes and the OJCS Value Proposition. The first, transparency, we attempted to launch on day one; the latter three have each taken their own path, ending with a “town hall”. The presentation walks you through the highlights of those four journeys…
There is one slide that lays out for the first time our “North Stars” – the core values that came as a result of all the work we did with NoTosh. You may not fully capture the meaning from just that slide. There is an entire separate presentation of those North Stars that we will look to make at the beginning of next year.
The embedded videos try to make the case that change is necessary and that we never change for change’s sake. We distinguish between that which is timely and that which is timeless.
Finally, we lay out some of the concrete changes for next year that come as a result of all the work, the conversations, the data collection, the consultations, the feedback, the recommendations, the surveys and the town halls. These come from our students, teachers, parents, volunteers, donors, supporters, consultants and the wider world of education and innovation. We believe that we are prepared to take that next leap forward…and we are blessed to have so many new and returning families joining us on that journey.