I hope that the first days of this year have been healthy and happy for you and that it is the start of a year filled with all that we value as individuals and as a community. As we look ahead we know that this month is busy and filled with opportunities for growth. We begin school today and I look forward to welcoming everyone back and hearing about vacation adventures. I know that many of our families traveled near and far this break and hope that your travels brought you closer to family, gave you opportunities for adventure, challenges, fun, and maybe even relaxation! I spent part of the winter break in New Jersey with my children visiting our family there. We celebrated birthdays, Chanukah, and even got to see our nephew play in a varsity hockey game! GO NOAH! We walked the High Line in Manhattan which was very exciting and VERY windy, and braved the unbelievable crowds at both Rockefeller Center and Times Square (not recommended at this time of year!). Most of all we enjoyed good food, friends, and family celebration.
January is a busy month at PJA as we plan for and anticipate a great OPEN HOUSE this coming Sunday, January 8 from 1-3 pm. Please tell your friends to join us at this event which will give them an opportunity to see the school, hear from teachers and parents, and ask questions of our administration. We look forward to meeting many potential families this coming Sunday. If you know of a family who CANNOT make it this Sunday, please have them call and make an appointment with Inge Hoogerhuis, our stellar admissions director, who will set up a time to meet with them and give them a tour of the school.
Also in January we will be having both our kindergarten and middle school step up days. This is a time when our ganon, both full and half day, spend some time in the kindergarten classroom with Morah Celinda, and have a chance to BE PJA KINDERGARTNERS! All of our ganon students will have this opportunity and parents are, of course, welcome. We will let you know when this will take place for your child's class.
During the second week of January (yes that's next week!) our 5th graders will have an opportunity to be buddied up with a 6th or 7th grader and will enjoy a morning in the middle school. They will be a part of regular classes and will move through the halls like middle school students do. They will experience the different teachers and subjects in the middle school. We hope this gives our 5th graders a good sense of what Middle School at PJA is like and gets them excited for the coming year at PJA.
January is also the time of the North American Jewish Day School conference, happening this year in Atlanta, Georgia. This year at least 3 of us will be attending this conference - Rabbi Chaiton, Sarah Blattner, and me - and we look forward to meeting with and learning from Jewish educators from all across North America. This conference includes day schools from RAVSAK (community day schools), Solomon Schechter (Conservative day schools), Pardes (Reform Day schools), and orthodox schools. It offers sessions in everything from Hebrew language learning to day school recruitment and everything in between. We are excited to be there amongst our colleagues, including old friends Julie Smith, Patricia Schwartz, and Sharon Pollin, who many of you may remember fondly. I look forward to sharing this experience with my colleagues and returning to share some of what we learn with all of you.
January also brings much fun, as always, both in the classroom and in the field. Our 5th graders head to Islandwood on Bainbridge Island in Washington, at the end of the month with three PJA teachers, Harriet Wingard, Nicole Hampton, (lower school instructional assistant) and Shahar Eden (middle school Hebrew Teacher). While at Islandwood they not only bask in the beauty of their surroundings, they also meet students from 2 other Jewish Day Schools in the Seattle area.
If you have not had an opportunity to stop by and see the beautiful gifts your children presented to their school on its 50th birthday, please be sure to come in and see the gorgeous pieces of art created by our students under the guidance of Lisa Kagan, artist in residence. These pieces are representations of the six foundational middot (values) upon which an education at PJA is built : Kavod (respect), Limmud (learning), Zehut (identity), Achrayut (responsiblity), Kehillah (community), and Hoda'ah (appreciation). These are a truly magnificent addition to our school. Watch for a celebration date coming soon as we officially 'unveil' these beautiful pieces of art with our community.
I am sure I have left something out as I know that there is much more to tell. Watch for more over the next month as we look forward to February when we will have our middle school Taglit, the National Association of Independent Schools conference in Seattle, and of course, more great learning that happens every day in our classrooms.
Happy 2012! Wishing you all a year of limmud (learning), kehillah (community), and achrayut (responsibility) for our community, our school, and the world in which we live, as we continue to think for ourselves and work for the world at PJA.
L'hitraot and I'll see you in the crosswalk!
Tuesday January, 3, 2012 at 08:45AM