In case you haven’t noticed, the Age of the Sharing Economy is upon us. One industry after another has been unceremoniously upended by hungry startups using innovative solutions to challenge the status quo and swallow up market share in the process. The taxi industry was brought to its heels by Uber and Lyft; the hospitality industry is contending with AirBnB. And hundreds, even thousands, of other companies are designing apps and interfaces that cut out the middlemen and offer value direct-to-consumer. My personal favorite: those Bird scooters!
HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal
This issue looks at ways that Jewish day schools find creative ways to increase and maximize their resources. In the first section, authors explore the partnerships that day schools forge with organizations in their community and beyond, to help raise money, foster teacher development, support students and cultivate relationships. Articles in the second section look at ways that schools work with the resources that exist within the school. We hope that the issue inspires you with fresh ideas for catalyzing resources at your school.
Click here to download the pdf and printer-friendly version of HaYidion.
One morning, I watched a news story about an organization in New England that made a “birthday in a box” for homeless children. I thought, “What a nice idea!” and wondered how hard it was to get that going. We reached out to the organization, but they only served their local community, far from our school in Gainesville, Florida. I mentioned the story to my staff, and we let the idea percolate for a few days. At that time, we were in the process of rethinking our Jewish mission.
Imagine a family that has been a synagogue member for a decade: their children have all gone through your preschool, are enrolled in the religious school and are currently attending the local public school. As things change for this family, they realize that they are looking for a different school experience, and starting in September, they are enrolling in the synagogue day school.
Rental income can supplement almost any school’s budget. While you do have to own your property, with some preparatory work and following important business practices, renting can be a great asset to your school. The initial goal is additional direct revenue, and rentals often bring the added benefit of opening your campus up to many others who wouldn’t normally have been there, potentially drawing students who otherwise may not have come to you. Large or small, your school too can have a rental income program.
Google and other Silicon Valley giants have become well known for creating workplaces that increase the chances of personal interactions, with the intended outcome of increased innovation and creativity—and recent research has begun to support this approach.
Enrollment management is an essential tool for aligning mission, enrollment priorities and student composition. However, student numbers, even student body demographics, are just one part of the equation. Student enrollment generates up to 80% of the revenue in many schools—money that goes to paying salaries and benefits, supporting programming and maintaining facilities. One way to manage this important financial lever is to set goals for net tuition revenue.
In a genuine crisis, what should a school know and expect from its immediate and larger community? What resources, financial, personal and otherwise, can a school rely upon and look to draw upon? We are both heads of Jewish day schools that suffered from catastrophic hurricanes, Katrina and Harvey. Traumatic events such as these can present a strange combination of devastation and opportunity. Conditions of chaos disrupt stable systems while fostering environments that may be ripe for creative emergence.
In Greater Toronto, we are blessed with an abundance of day schools of different sizes and identities, from elementary through high school, 14 of which receive funding from the UJA Federation. In many ways, the market is crowded. Parents choosing a school go on tours and attend open houses at multiple institutions. Grandparents, whose families are divided among schools, attend multiple grandparents days, Chanukah celebrations and Passover seders. Philanthropists are solicited by multiple schools—and by federation.
BJE: Builders of Jewish Education, founded in 1937, is an independent nonprofit serving the greater Los Angeles area and the only organization in LA dedicated solely to supporting and enhancing Jewish educational experiences, from early childhood through high school, across the full Jewish religious and cultural spectrum. BJE provides programs and activities that connect families and children to a broad range of Jewish educational opportunities.
On the first day of Chanukah 5779, representatives of Jewish schools in the United Kingdom will sign the legal documentation that gives life to the Jewish Community Academy Trust (JCAT), the first Jewish network of schools for the UK’s mainstream Orthodox community. The group will even share some educational resources, a single back office and one board of trustees.
Ask any day school what they need most, and most will tell you money. With more money, schools could have high-quality programming in a wide array of subjects, hire top-notch leaders and teachers, build optimal learning spaces and, last but not least, offer lower tuition. Lower tuition would help increase enrollment, allowing for more families to benefit from Jewish day school, and reduce the burden on those already making the choice to send their children to day school.
Bridging Jewish generations can be a transformative experience for both young and old, yet a lack of access, time and funding often limit such interactions and opportunities. Many of our students do not have regular, meaningful contact with the older generation, and many Jewish elderly do not have young family or interactions with children in the local Jewish community. Research shows that elderly adults experience great positive effects from intergenerational programs, including increased connectedness, cognitive awareness and feelings of self-worth, along with reduced sense of isolation.
Jewish camps and Jewish day schools each serve essential and overlapping functions in the development of Jewish youth, but for the most part these experiences are siloed and unconnected. The potential for productive collaboration, however, is vast.
In 2015, our school wanted to breathe new life into our traditional curriculum. With a change in leadership came new expertise, first in project-based learning (PBL) and second in design thinking, methods which gave birth to a new curriculum and core philosophy. They also inspired a longer-term vision to be a pioneer in design thinking education for Jewish day schools.
Imagine a world where Jewish educators had access to a plethora of well-thought-out, polished classroom resources that were inspiring, thoughtful, tried and tested, available through an organized and searchable database and easily editable to make each resource relevant to the content and context of a particular learning environment. Imagine how much stress, time and effort would be saved, allowing teachers to focus on content adaptation and delivery rather than searching, organizing, researching and developing materials from scratch.
If schools were teams, what roles would various school leaders have: Judge? Captain? Manager? Owner? Physical Therapist? Sportscaster? Promoter? Fan? Cheerleader? Groundskeeper? Mascot? Coach?
As school leaders, we often struggle to achieve the ambitious goals we set for the professionals we supervise and support, for ourselves, and ultimately, most significantly, for our students and for the overall quality of our schools. Key to our success is being intentional about the roles and tasks we take on as leaders.