Re-Cycle: Let’s Talk About…Revisiting Critical Conversations

As I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to lean back into conversations about teaching and learning, community, relationship-(re)building, programs and all the normal stuff one does at the beginning of a new school year – as opposed to focusing inordinate time and energy on COVID protocols – it occurs to me that in many ways this is not just the beginning of a new school year, but the beginning of a new school chapter.

Five years is both a short and a long time depending on your perspective.

When I talk with parents, especially those who have only been at OJCS for two or three years, it is clear that we have a bit of a “generational” (that’s not the exact best word, but I can’t think of a better alternative) divide and I think the fault line describes the many “town halls” and “critical conversations” that took place during my first two years at OJCS.  If you were here for all that foundational work (or chose to go back and peruse blog posts from those years) you both know what was true and what (now) is true AND you had a voice in helping chart the distance between the two.  That is a very different perspective from those who only know the status quo.

Just that by itself would warrant action.

But schools are not static – they are learning organizations that continue to grow and evolve over time.  It is not sufficient for new parents to come to know “The OJCS Way” as some kind of permanent state of affairs.  Our “North Stars” may be fixed in the firmament above, but everything about how we get there is entirely up to us.  So between wanting all our parents to better understand fundamental truths about our school as it presently is, and needing all our parents to participate in critical conversations to help decide what will be true about our school as it continues to evolve, we land in the same place.

Connected to our larger theme this year of “Getting Our Mojo Back”, we are going to schedule three critical conversations this year that will both hearken back to give everyone equal footing and dream forward to give everyone an equal stake.  The titles will be the same as they were…

  • “Let’s Talk About the ‘J’ in OJCS” – what really is our Jewish mission/vision?  Coming to a weeknight soon in October.
  • L’assemblée de Français” – what is currently true about our French outcomes and what can parents expect moving forward?  Coming to a weeknight soon in November.
  • “Let’s Talk About the Future” – what are the big ideas, programs and initiatives that will help us reach that much closer to our North Stars?  Coming to a weeknight soon in February.

And for each, I will do as I have done – use my blog to transparently set the stage, to share the results and to share the impact.

In the meanwhile, my email and door – both metaphorically and in reality – are open.  Feel free to engage with me on any issue, concern or question that is on your mind.

Next week at this time, I will be returning from what I already know will a triumphant return to our Annual Middle School Retreat, so you’ll forgive me if my weekly blog post is delayed by a few days.  Feel free to check social to follow our adventures in zip-lining, caving, hiking, praying, learning, campfire-ing, and having an overall fantastic adventure as a middle school community!

Author: Jon Mitzmacher

Dr. Jon Mitzmacher is the Head of the Ottawa Jewish Community School. Jon has recently begun his rabbinical school journey at the Academy for Jewish Religion and is thrilled to have joined the faculty of the Day School Leadership Training Institute (DSLTI) as a mentor for Cohort 12. 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.

2 thoughts on “Re-Cycle: Let’s Talk About…Revisiting Critical Conversations”

  1. I was hoping this post was going to actually be about recycling!
    Hope to engage you and OJCS, again, in JNF Canada’s climate solutions prize and other green initiatives!!

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