HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal



"Excellence" is a goal to which many, if not all, day schools subscribe. This issue provides perspectives on this elusive term, offering diverse notions of what day school excellence means and looks like, and suggesting pathways and structures for schools to achieve excellence. Each school must define what excellence means for its community and how excellence relates to the other values in the school's mission.

Click here to download the PDF and printer friendly version of this issue of HaYidion

The New Excellence Through Online Learning

by Eli Kannai Jun 01, 2015
RELATED TOPICS: TechnologyStudentsPedagogy

I clearly recall one day, in elementary school, when the rabbi came to our classroom and announced that the average class grade on a recently taken standardized test was better this year than it had been the year before. That was the way teachers and students were measured: as a whole, how did a class perform? The educational system focused on aggregate; if more students performed better, the average would be higher.

Scaling Up Excellence in Jewish Day Schools

by Samantha Pack and Y. Boruch Sufrin Jun 01, 2015

What does it mean for a school to be “excellent”? In order to tackle this sweeping question, we break down the idea of excellence into five key components that have their origins in Robert Sutton and Huggy Rao’s book, Scaling Up Excellence. We came across their work in preparation for a 16-hour flight to Israel, in search of reading material both practical and stimulating. As we delved into the book, we realized it could serve as a roadmap, allowing us to chart the next steps in creating an excellent educational institution.

The Excellence of the Jewish People: Past, Present and Future

by Interview with Gidi Grinstein Jun 01, 2015
RELATED TOPICS: Mission & Vision

Gidi Grinstein is the author of Flexigidity and founder of the Reut Institute, “an innovative policy and strategy group designed to identify the gaps in current policy and strategy in Israel and the Jewish world, and work to build and implement new visions.” This interview is published in partnership with the Jewish Book Council.

How to Define and Measure Outstanding Teaching

by Rabbi Mitchel Malkus, Head of School, Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Rockville, MD May 30, 2015
RELATED TOPICS: TeachersMission & Vision

Our schools often use the word “excellence” to describe our goals in teaching and learning, but what exactly does excellence in teaching look like, and how do schools foster an environment where excellence in teaching is celebrated and acknowledged?

When Academic Excellence Isn’t Enough

by Jane Martin, Director of Marketing and Communications, Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, Overland Park, KS May 29, 2015

Nearly two years ago, Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy (HBHA) took the opportunity to embark upon a strategic plan to ensure the school remains financially prudent. After extensive research, the HBHA Strategic Planning Committee developed a plan that takes a deep look into many areas of the school, including academic excellence.

Seeking Excellence: Partnering with Universities

by Lynn Raviv, Director of Development, NE Miles Jewish Day School, Birmingham, AL May 28, 2015
RELATED TOPICS: PedagogyTeachers

Four years ago our school began a journey toward a learning environment focused on project- and inquiry-based learning, values-based learning, and differentiated instruction across all subjects. This huge shift in pedagogy was embraced by our community, and a capital campaign was launched to redesign existing spaces. Our small school has now been transformed into a hub for our progressive and highly technology-based academic program.

The Shalom Room

by Mary Grace Lentz, Kindergarten Teacher and Student Support Specialist, Seattle Jewish Community School May 27, 2015
RELATED TOPICS: StudentsInclusivity

The kindergarten students enter the classroom and prepare for the morning. One student is accidently bumped by several of the students as they hang up coats and put away lunches. Shira (not her real name) begins to cry, and her body is shaking. She is about to have a “meltdown.” Shira is escorted into the Shalom Room, a sensory room, and is guided through the “hug machine,” a deep pressure device designed by Temple Grandin, to help individuals calm themselves when feeling overwhelmed.

Broadcasting Excellence

by Alan Rusonik, Head of School, Jewish Academy of Orlando May 26, 2015

It’s 7:59 am. A familiar template appears on SmartTV screens in every classroom in the school. Parents gather in the library to watch, an impromptu ritual before they leave for the office or the gym. A recognizable song, a cha-cha-cha-type melody with the words “boker tov,” repeats itself over and over again. WJAO, the television news broadcast of the Jewish Academy of Orlando, is about to go on the air.

It’s 8:00 am. “One, two, three…you’re on the air!”

Student Leadership and Advocacy for Israel

by Dr. Laurence Kutler, Head of School, Herzliah, Montreal May 25, 2015

The Herzliah Student Leadership Israel Advocacy Program is designed to give students an in-depth understanding of Israel, her strengths, her role in innovation and technology and her place in the global community. Our goal is to empower and inspire our students to become engaged in the process of advocacy through information and education.

Presently offered to our Secondary V students, the program will be expanding to include Secondary III and Secondary IV. This will enable us to offer a broader program and devote more time to strengthening our students’ skills.