It has been a VERY busy week!
We were very proud to honor Liat Walker this week at our annual PTA Teacher Appreciation Dinner with the Jacksonville Jewish Center’s Men’s Club Martin J. Gottlieb Brit Hinukh Award, “given each Spring to one Teacher in the Center schools who best represents the life commitment necessary to bring a quality learning experience to Jewish children.” It was a well-deserved honor and a fun evening.
I am very appreciative of all the kind words and warm wishes I have received about my future plans. I have been thinking and reflecting about it all week and when I am ready, I will share my thoughts and feelings here in this space.
This weekend we are celebrating our annual L’dor V’dor event – this year honoring our retiring Youth Director, Gayle Bailys with a special Shabbat morning service and a Sunday event during which she will receive the 2013 Rabbi David Gaffney Leadership in Education Award. We are looking forward to an incredible weekend!
In the spirit of transparency, because we are a small community prone to well-meaning whispers and whatnot, I decided to split my my annual “Transparency Files” blog post with next year’s faculty assignments into two parts because I do want to make transparent a few issues of import that have become final and public this week.
As you may have already heard, MJGDS will be saying goodbye to a few veteran teachers this year. We have already publicly acknowledged that Silvia Tolisano, Susan Burkhart, Deb Kuhr and Jo-Ann Kagan will be leaving at the end of this school year. We are also saying goodbye to Cathleen Toglia, Marissa Tolisano, Megan DiMarco and Sara Luettchau. Each has contributed much to our school and each will be missed.
We have filled almost all the lead positions and are working to fill the assistant positions as well. I will lay out the entire new structure and composition of the faculty once it is complete, hopefully next week. But suffice it to say, that this has presented us with an opportunity to re-imagine our entire staffing structure in order to best meet our school’s needs. And I would like to take this opportunity to share a few key changes.
Stephanie Teitelbaum will be moving to the Middle School where she will become our new Middle School Language Arts Teacher. Having successfully introduced elements of the Daily 5 in Grades 4 & 5, as well as important advances in how to integrate 21st century learning into language arts instruction, she will now stabilize and secure excellence in Language Arts instruction for our Middle School. In addition to her new teaching responsibilities, she will join our 21st century learning team, providing coaching and support to our faculty, focusing primarily on our “Community of Kindness” initiative. We are confident that this is an important long-term decision which will benefit our entire school community.
When faced with the task of replacing Mrs. Teitelbaum, we were very cognizant of the high expectations she has left us with, as well as the new expectations we have created for pioneering 1:1 iPad usage in class. This is why, after having reviewed a number of resumes and having met with select candidates, we decided that the only way we could responsibly fill the position was to transition Andrea Hernandez back to the classroom where her successful career began. We have the Daily 5 because Mrs. Hernandez brought it to our school. We have become a leader in 21st century learning because Mrs. Hernandez pioneered the path. We would not be ready to go 1:1 with iPads if not for her expertise. If we can’t have Mrs. Teitelbaum, who better to jump in than the teacher who has been coaching her?
Mrs. Hernandez, having been a highly successful classroom teacher prior to coming to MJGDS, is very excited about returning to the classroom and being able to work more directly with students and parents to implement the creative and innovative programs she has been introducing through our faculty these last years. She is also excited to partner with Mrs. Zavon in this different structure, having worked with her as a coach.
These decisions have only become clear and final this week and this is the first opportunity I have had to share them publicly. I recognize that change – even positive change – can cause anxiety and that parents may have questions. I welcome those questions. Please feel free to email, call or drop in. We want you to be as excited about these changes as we are.
And we will share the rest of our faculty news next week.
As mentioned last week, we have now tallied the winners of our first (annual?) “Journey Through the Jewish Holidays” and would like to take this space to congratulate them. We will be handing out the Adventure Landing passes next week and the Jaguars tickets next fall.
We hope this incentive program was meaningful for the families who participated and, perhaps, could inspire more families to participate in the future. We would very much like to have your feedback on this program and whether or not it inspired your family.
The following students attended 5 out of the 10 days school was closed during the Pilgrimage Festivals (Sukkot, Passover and Shavuot) and will receive a free pass to Adventure Landing:
- Kitah Gan: Morgan N.
- Kitah Alef: Lily D., George S., Jacob M. & Maya L.
- Kitah Bet: Aleeya S. & Saylor S.
- Kitah Gimmel: Samantha L. & Isa Z.
- Kitah Dalet: Samantha Z. & Arin N.
The following students attended 8 out of the 10 days (including 1 day of each holiday) and will receive a free pass to Adventure Landing and 2 free Jaguars Tickets:
- Kitah Gan: Zach H. & Sadie H.
- Kitah Alef: Hallel S., Lucy G. & Evan W.
- Kitah Bet: Eva G., May A., Moses J., Daisy H., Alon S., Ariel O., Anna F., Eliana M. & Yisrael A.
- Kitah Gimmel: Lial A. & Benjamin D.
- Kitah Dalet: Elad O., Zach M. & Eliana J.
- Kitah Hay: Elior L., Itamar L. & Benjamin C.
- Middle School: Jake G., Josh F., Lily H., Max M. & Ryan M.
Congratulations to all! (And if there are any errors, please do let us know!)