HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal
Spotlight on... School Advocates
Advocacy is the act of speaking on behalf of or in support of another person or idea. Your Prizmah school advocates serve that role and so much more. Our team is focused on making sure that we get you what you need, be it an answer to an administrative or curricular question, information about a Prizmah program or a connection to a colleague. We strive to meet the needs of all our schools, understand the distinct differences among us and see the commonalities that bind us in the field of Jewish education. Your advocates oversee Reshet (networking) opportunities that will bring you in touch with peers who have comparable challenges and want to share with each other to strengthen their programs.
Here are some examples of how the advocates assist schools.
A lot has been written about the loneliness of school leadership. Addressing that loneliness is a key to sustaining the health and happiness of our leaders. As advocates, we listen for threads that connect leaders to one another, whether it’s a mutual interest, a common struggle or a new idea to share. At the Prizmah conference, a leader who was wrestling with a particular challenge asked, “Am I the only one who is going through this? Do you see this in other schools?” She wasn’t, and we did. We immediately connected her with two peers in schools similar to hers and have since expanded the group to include four more.
As school advocates, we are tasked with building relationships and communities among schools not only within a particular affinity group but across lines of affiliation. We want to recognize the unique traits of our Reform, Schechter, Ravsak and Yeshiva day schools as well as see what unifies us. Advocates work as a team and are attuned to opportunities that can bring all of our schools together. Prizmah wholeheartedly believes in the power of the day school field as a collective.
This past spring, the school advocates hosted two online webinars about school tefillah, and since those initial meetings, a multidenominational tefillah working group has formed. The conversations school leaders are having with one another—sharing best practices, asking for advice and suggestions, brainstorming together across denominational lines—have exemplified the true power of a field that collaborates and supports one another with a common mission to provide the best Jewish day school education for their students.
When professional and lay leaders have a question about issues at their school, no matter what the size of school or depth of query, they will always get a well-informed answer from their advocate. They are your go-to person for questions about a future search, organizational structure or professional development need. As one board president put it, “My advocate is my one-stop shop!”
A head of school called and admitted that attention had not been paid to the myriad emails received about so many programs. She did not mean to ignore them and wanted help understanding what Prizmah was offering and what has relevance for her school. The advocate was able to explain each one and connect her to learn more about the programs that interested her. One phone call got her all she needed.
Our affinity Reshet groups will bring resources, learning and networking opportunities to meet the unique needs of each of our groups of schools. Be it sharing a denominationally focused article or bringing a speaker to address a need, these groups are geared to you and your school. Advocates will work with school leaders to determine the areas you want to discuss.
Contact us, we are here for you.
Rabbi Yechiel Shaffer, Yeshiva Day School Advocate: firstname.lastname@example.org
Traci Stratford, Pardes School Advocate: email@example.com
Amy Wasser, Director of School Advocacy and Ravsak School Advocate: firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniel Weinberg, Schechter School Advocate: email@example.com
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Jewish day schools want every child to succeed in their learning and social-emotional development. How can schools accomplish those lofty goals while teaching many students in the same classroom? This issue explores that conundrum and showcases various ways that learning can be differentiated to meet the needs, capacities, and interests of different students. Articles address differentiation within the classroom, and supporting teachers to learn, transition to, and apply methods of differentiation. Authors discuss the "how-to" as well as the larger goals and vision.
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