One of the things that I have most enjoyed in my work as a Head of School has been the diversity of activities and interactions that happen on any given day. A carefully made “to do list” can easily be upended. A couple of scenes from this year tell that story:
One day, I was sitting at my desk focused on a letter that I needed to write. All of a sudden a little robot rolled through my open door and landed beside my feet under my desk. A minute later a seemingly embarrassed second grader appeared and retrieved his errant robot. I’ll never know for sure if the student had programmed it to go into my office.
Another time, I was returning from a meeting with my Heads of School colleagues where we had a very deep conversation about the challenge of our young teachers and staff finding housing on the Peninsula. I walked through the gate and a small group of eighth grade girls rushed up to me asking me if I would endorse one of them for President of student council. I struggled with that one – could I endorse any one child?
Those interruptions ground me always reminding me of the real purpose of my work... really of OUR work. We – staff, parents, donors, trustees, community partners – are the community that makes this school possible.
According to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, there are three different words for community in classical Hebrew – Edah, Tzibbur and Kehillah. Each signifies a different kind of association. Edah – refers to a group whose members have a common purpose. Tzibbur – comes from a root that means to “pile up” – it is a community in the minimalist sense – an aggregate – think of a group of people standing together at the same time observing a sunset. Kehillah – is a group whose members are different from one another but who are orchestrated together for a collective purpose – each one making a distinctive contribution.
When I think of the many successes over the past 9 years –
- Our Israel BASIS initiative
- Transforming the Middle School into a center for excellence
- Purchase of the campus land
- Creation of the Pelah lab and of the new playground
- Transforming the Hebrew language program into Shalom Ivrit
Each of these came about because of this Kehillah – united by a common purpose of creating the next generation of Jewish leaders through Jewish day school education . These successes occur through partnerships with the PJCC, the Jewish Federation, the Taube Foundation, the Levine Lent Foundation, the Wornick family, our many donors, teachers, staff, parents and most of all... the children. Each member of the community has brought his/her distinctive gifts to these efforts. This is the Kehillah that I joined 9 years ago, and this is the Kehillah – of common purpose with distinctive personalities that will propel the future of the school.
L’hitraot (See you soon),
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