First a little housecleaning…
Thanks very much to EJewishPhilanthropy for publishing this week an article I wrote entitled, If We Can Do It, So Can You! One Small School’s Journey to the Center of 21st Century Learning. And thanks to everyone who commented, tweeted, liked or otherwise made mention. It is a great credit to the faculty and staff of the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School that edJEWcon was born from our pioneering work. And it is an even greater credit to our stakeholders for giving us the trust, space and resources to do it!
Our “Journey Through the Jewish Holidays” was completed on Shavuot. We are in the process of tallying the data and look forward to announcing the names of students who earned prizes for excellence in synagogue attendance as well how and when those prizes will be given out. There is no question that it had some impact – especially on Sukkot. We had increased attendance and, as a result, increased programming on these special holidays. It takes time to change culture, so we will evaluate this year and decide whether or not to continue, expand, tweak or adjust this program for next year. We would love feedback from parents as to whether or not these kinds of incentives are meaningful for you and your children.
We are not only finishing up the school year at MJGDS, but celebrating the successful close to the first year of Galinsky Academy! Here are some of the big accomplishments from Year One:
- Creation of “Community of Kindness” Initiative – although there is LOTS more work to do, we did take important first steps. I will have an important update on this in the next few weeks!
- Extension of 21st Century Learning to all Academy Schools.
- Consolidation of LDVD Annual Campaign & hiring a Development Director.
- Establishing clear and consistent Parent Communication vehicles.
- Branding Initiative for the Academy and all its Schools.
- Rebranding of DuBow Preschool
- Better integration between Academy and the Center/between our educators and our clergy.
In the ongoing spirit of transparency, I would like to share my self-evaluation of my first year serving as “Head of Academy”:
As Head of Academy, I have the responsibility for performing evaluation of school heads each November. I also have responsibility for all Academy governance, marketing, budget and development activities. Much of my work in these areas has been led by the Three-Year Strategic Plans that govern all the standing committees and communities of the Academy: Preschool, Religious School/Makom, Day School, Budget & Finance, Development, Marketing, Committee on Trustees, and Head Support & Evaluation.
We have had tremendous success with governance. All of our committees and communities have been profiled and we have begun to address gaps as we finish the process of fleshing out all the committees and communities for the next two years. Strong chairs are in place as well strategic plans, governing principles, and a strong Committee on Trustees to manage the system.
Goal: In 2012-2013, I attended each meeting of each committee, community, Cabinet and JJC Board. While it was a necessary and worthwhile investment to get off the ground, it is not healthy (for anyone) for the big picture. I will be looking to strategically draw back next year so that I may place my time and energy in other areas of need.
We have professionalized our budget oversight and completely revised our Financial Aid process.
- Feedback from committees requires us to ensure all committee members are aware of how the budget works and are updated more frequently throughout the year.
- I would like to find ways to move the financial aid process up a couple of months so that we can assess our maximal need before drafting our budget and to ensure that the process can be as compassionate and customer-friendly as possible.
We have dramatically increased annual giving through our L’Dor V’Dor Annual Campaign for Galinsky Academy.
- With a new Development Director we have an opportunity to better steward donors, maximize the Head of Academy’s role in development, motivate volunteers, etc., and create new benchmarks for annual giving.
- Explore all aspects of development beyond annual giving, including endowments, capital giving, naming opportunities and planned giving.
- Work to pool Admissions and Development to maximize strengths and opportunities – move towards an “Advancement” model.
We have spent 2012-2013 on a Branding Initiative for the Academy. We have created all new collateral, a new brochure, and an MJGDS curriculum guide and are finishing up on new websites. We developed a new social media strategy and employed parent ambassadors. Besides what has already been stated about admissions, one goal for next year is to ensure our new marketing plan comes to life.
The most significant challenge of this new position is assuming responsibility for the supervision of the heads of the other schools that make up the academy, one goal for next year is to create an assessment tool that measures the impact of leadership on the schools including how to factor in all the variables that determine whether a school is “successful” – especially when the normal variables don’t apply.
Overall, I believe it has been a very successful first year with a whole new paradigm. There is a lot of work to do and a long road ahead. Our strategic plan provides a roadmap. I look forward to coaching and mentoring from the Head Support & Evaluation Committee, and to working with all our lay leaders, senior leadership of the Center, my fellow school heads, colleagues and the entire faculty and staff of Galinsky Academy to help get us there.