Head Notes

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Adam Eilath

Watching teachers set up their classrooms is an incredible privilege. I have taken great pleasure in walking the hallways this past week and watching classrooms transform from empty spaces to warm learning environments. I will admit that I’ve taken a particular interest in watching teachers as they decorate their classrooms. There is something magical about watching educators as they write notes to their students, place furniture in just the right position, or contemplate a color scheme for a wall decoration. Each teacher at this school carries hopes and dreams for their students and for the learners they can become this year. In curating spaces, they are motivated by the infinite potential inherent in each student’s mind, body, and soul.

The Zohar (a mystical Jewish text) describes a moment where a Rabbi encounters a welcoming learning environment.  Rabbi Shimeon is quoted as saying “The shade covering us from these trees is so pleasant, we must crown this place with the words of Torah!” I know that our teachers are preparing for that same reaction, for our students to translate their excitement about space into excitement about learning.

In these last moments before we are reunited with our beloved students at Wornick, I am filled with awe at the intention that our professional community members are investing in building conducive spaces for student learning. We cannot wait for this building to be filled with sounds of learning, laughter, and joy.

Adam Eilath
Head of School

Lillian Howard

Professional development is an integral component of the education profession. With so much thinking and research about teaching and learning, we strive to offer impactful opportunities to enable our teachers and staff to grow and improve their craft.

I am so pleased to announce that two of our staff were recently selected to participate in competitive professional development opportunities. Nicole Haire is honored to be chosen as a member of the second Reshet cohort. This local program, generously funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation and the SF Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, brings together and supports Jewish Family Engagement Professionals who work with young children. During this year-long program, Nicole will learn through Communities of Practice (CoPs), a retreat, and a Yom Iyun (Day of Learning) to deepen her own Jewish learning and family engagement expertise. Our school will also receive a stipend for family engagement programming. This is a wonderful opportunity for Wornick to make connections with the larger community and for a senior school leader to grow. Please join me in congratulating Nicole on this honor!

Further good news to share is that Corine Brouwer, our Peleh Lab and STEM Coordinator, has just been accepted into the initial cohort of the Certificate in Jewish Leadership for Educators through the Spertus Institute and Northwestern University. Also generously supported by the Jim Joseph Foundation, the program offers a rigorous examination of leadership principles in a Jewish context. Corine will hone her own leadership skills while networking with educational leaders across the country in myriad Jewish educational settings. Corine will participate in two on-site seminars in Chicago taught by leading scholars and receive both professional mentoring and leadership assessments. This is another wonderful opportunity for both our colleague and school to grow and connect. Congratulations, Corine!

And we have more competitive professional development opportunities to kvell over! Our middle school Jewish Studies Coordinator, Chelsea Mandell, and artist Ginger Slonaker were selected to participate in the Teacher Institute for the Arts led by Jerusalem artist David Moss. Chelsea and Ginger spent time over the summer training in-residence at Camp Ramah in Ojai. They looked at art as a holy process and learned about synectics, a creative problem-solving technique. Freshly inspired, they turned their learning into action by more fully integrating art into our JS curriculum and creating a culminating project, the Wornick Siddur. Our students are currently engaged in this project which includes deep thinking about prayer along with creating visual representations to accompany prayers in text.

We are all so proud of our educators and our community’s dedication to growth and excellence.

Lillian Howard
Interim Head of School

Lillian Howard

As we return to school with air washed clean and hearts warmed by a Thanksgiving meal shared with family and friends, I think of the vital role that gratitude has in Jewish prayer and tradition. Perhaps most striking is the morning prayer that we say together each morning in school T'fillah, modeh ani which means I thank you. Beginning each day in gratitude is tremendously powerful as we humbly acknowledge the profound impact of others. Whether we are thanking God, our parents, our teachers, or our children, we value the vital connection we have one with another.

At Wornick, I have found so much for which I am grateful as I rise each morning. I am thankful for the opportunity to guide a school community so dedicated to the education and growth of each child. I am thankful for the professionalism, expertise, and caring of our teachers along with the enthusiasm, inquisitiveness, and joy of our children. I am thankful for our generous donors and wise trustees who ensure that we are able to offer the very best education to our students.

With the Thanksgiving holiday behind us, I challenge each of us not only to begin each morning in thanks but to keep the spirit of gratitude in the forefront as we navigate each day.

Lillian Howard
Interim Head of School

Lillian Howard

Here, at Wornick, education is active and engaging whether we are learning about the New Year through the many circles and cycles that surround us or flowers through plant anatomical drawings. Our students wonder and discover; the questions and projects that result provide the many paths to innumerable answers which, in turn, inevitably lead to more questions. In their Jewish Identity Projects, our 8th graders are discovering themselves as they form connections with their heritage, their spirituality, and their many experiences. Education is not static; our students are not passive bystanders. We turn on its head the Classical model of learning which emerges from the roots of the word educate. In this approach the teacher leads (duc) the student out of (e) the darkness of ignorance into the light of knowledge. For us, education is more closely aligned with its meaning in Hebrew chinukh which includes the idea of inauguration or dedication. Education is a beginning, a first step to a life-time of discovery. As we dedicate the new year to our own growth and aspirations, we will continue to support our students with a school community wholly dedicated to each child and each child's learning.

Lillian Howard
Interim Head of School

Lillian Howard

At Wornick, Jewish values provide the foundation for all that we do. The value of Tzedakah (charity or righteous justice) frames our 7th grade Tzedakah project, our holiday food drives, and countless classroom activities while Derech Eretz (respect) is central to all our interactions inside and beyond the walls of the classroom. In innumerable ways large and small, we strive everyday to repair the world (Tikkun Olam).

We can also see these values as a lens through which to view the world. We teach our children that success is measured by what we give and how we treat others, not by the accumulation of objects. Our Jewish perspective stresses the obligations and responsibilities of speech along with its freedom. Our pursuit of happiness implies the pursuit of goodness; we strive for "the good" as opposed to "the best."

I was blessed to see these values come alive on the field as one of our 8th graders played soccer with a group of younger students. When an argument broke out over fair play, all rushed to the older student for advice. When one of our lower school players was upset over another saying something that was "untrue," our 8th grader took the younger student aside, calmed him, and gave him strategies to handle the situation himself. In this one moment, we achieved "the good" and brought to life our fundamental values.

Lillian Howard
Interim Head of School

Mission Statement

Ronald C. Wornick Jewish Day School develops students who are socially and academically prepared to meet their full potential as engaged leaders committed to a life steeped in Jewish ethics and values.

About Wornick

Enrollment: 176
Grades: TK-8
Average Class Size: 14
Accreditation: 
California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS)
Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
Membership: 
National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)