A Carnival of Blogs

What a wonderful evening last Tuesday night was at OJCS!  A FULL Gym and even-fuller hearts from a Chanukah Family Program for the (Rock of) Ages!  And that candle-lighting ceremony…I am still choked up.  Thanks to our teachers, our students and – of course – our families and friends for filling the darkness of these troubled times with the light of our spirit and ruach.  You can check out all the beautiful images and videos (Flashmob says what?) on our various OJCS social media.

Somehow we had a whole rest of the week to navigate after that…

I spent ten minutes of actual time trying to find out what the analogy is from a gaggle of geese or a flock of seagulls is to a bunch of (mini) blog posts and, indeed, it is a “carnival of blogs”.  (For real.)  And so, with Winter Break Itch starting to spread, I thought it might be useful to swap out my usual way-too-long blog post this week for a small series of mini-mini-posts, updating and reminding you of things to know.

Let the carnival begin…

Each year, I typically dedicate 3-5 blog posts to “touring the OJCS Blogosphere” as a way of helping you see how much amazing content our students and teachers create as part of our normal way of operating.  It is also with the hope that our students (and teachers) can see that the work they do matters; that by putting authentic and meaningful work into the universe, and that by the universe commenting back with feedback, that it will inspire our students (and teachers) to do their best work and to fulfil the “moral imperative of sharing”.  YOU are the “U” in “Universe”.  Momentum begets momentum.  A snowball grows as it moves.  So please, whether you are a parent or a grandparent in our school or not.  Whether you are a fellow-traveller in Jewish education or not.  Whatever brings you to this blog, please click out of it to the OJCS Blogosphere, read any blog or blogfolio and make a quality comment.  Not to put it on too thick, but it is yet one additional way to help our community feel seen and not-so-isolated.  Just a few unexpected positive comments from a few unexpected locations causes such enthusiasm…

Remember at the end of last year and the beginning of this year when we said we would be leaning farther into the Science of Reading?  Well, that is well underway with our investment into Amplify Reading.

Why did we choose Amplify? 

It is the platform that most closely aligns with the evidence-based body of research referred to as the ‘Science of Reading’. The Science of Reading research shows the need for students to have word recognition skills (such as phonemic awareness, decoding skills through phonics, and reading fluency) and language comprehension (including knowledge of vocabulary, morphology, and syntax) in order to read and comprehend text. 

Teachers have been rolling it out and you can check (Guess where!) Classroom Blogs for more information.  Like this one from our Middle School Language Arts Teacher, Jess Mender.

What about this renovation we’ve been hearing about?

That is a thing that is going to happen!  After having to share the sad news of our postponement last year, we are back on track.  We will be confirming the project and the schedule in the weeks ahead and with that comes the contingency plans for the end of this school year when we fully expect to be under construction so that we are “move-in ready” for the start of the 2024-2025 school year.  This is tremendously exciting and I cannot wait to share updated renderings with all the magic coming our way.  We know that the true value of what happens in a school is in the people and the activities, but we do know that the physical space matters.  Our children and teachers deserve a space as innovative and creative as they are and we are looking forward to this first phase of renovation launching the transformation from past to future.

Like the renovation – oft-discussed, but not-quite-yet tangible – is our school’s 75th Anniversary.  And like the renovation, which has slowly been ramping up quietly and is going to be ready for take off near the end of this school year, so, too will be the series of events celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Ottawa Jewish Community School (founded as Hillel Academy).  There are (I checked) fewer than 15 Jewish Day Schools in North America older than the Ottawa Jewish Community School, and most of those are in communities with much larger Jewish populations.  This is an incredible achievement and an extraordinary validation for those with the vision and the courage to create and sustain our special school.  An anniversary year is an opportunity to celebrate and to appreciate – and yes, to fundraise.  The past and the present of Jewish Ottawa is entwined with our school; securing the future of OJCS is how we help secure the future of Jewish Ottawa.

Now more than ever.

Author: Jon Mitzmacher

Dr. Jon Mitzmacher is the Head of the Ottawa Jewish Community School. Jon is studying to be a rabbi at the Academy for Jewish Religion and is on the faculty of the Day School Leadership Training Institute (DSLTI) as a mentor. 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.