Welcome Back: September 2011 Education News

Welcome back to school everyone.  As of this week, all of our JJC Schools are back in session.  Also all of our Education communities have met.

I think there are more than a few of you out there who do not know what an education community at the Jacksonville Jewish Center is.  Let me explain.  At the JJC, there are four schools;  the Jacksonville Jewish Center Pre-School, the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School, the Bernard and Alice Selevan Religious School, and the Makom/Siyyum Highschool program.

Each of these schools has an education community whose responsibility is governance.  What I mean by that is, these education communities are responsible for insuring that all of our schools have a future.  The education communities work in partnership with the principals of the schools.  The principals are responsible for operating the schools.  The education communities are responsible for making sure there are ways to measure that our schools are providing an education guided by the mission of the synagogue and the individual schools.

If you are still confused, here are some examples of the work our education communities will be doing this year and in the years to come:

  • Creating strategic plans for their schools so there are goals to reach for and direction for the administrators to follow.
  • Financial planning so each school administrator can have direction and support in building his/her budget and managing the schools’ finances.
  • Development work to build relationships with school parents, alumni, and other stakeholders which should ultimately excite people in a way that they will be proud to support our great schools.
  • Fundraising to raise the needed funds to supplement all of the schools budgets, because tuition dollars alone are not enough to produce the type of education experiences that we want our children to have.
  • Creating policies for the schools which also are guided by the mission of the schools and synagogue.  An example:  Last year the Customized Learning Plan Policy was created for the Religious school to give Lois Tompkins the authority to create customized learning plans for her students who met certain criteria.  This policy was based on a vision/mission of inclusion and an understanding that all students do not learn the same way.  Lois identified a need in her school.  The RS/HS Education community then created a policy with Lois’ guidance to meet this need and ultimately improve the RS’s ability to serve all of its students and families.

In the header of this blog you can find lists of the members of these education communities.  They have changed a little bit from last year.  The Chair of the Preschool Education Community is Gabrielle Bubis.  The chair of the MJGDS Education Community is Mauri Mizrahi.  The co-chairs of the Religious/High School Education Community are Faye Mizrahi and Stacy Leach.

If you have concerns or comments about anything going on in your child’s schools, the first person to consult with, if it is not a classroom matter, is the principal of the school.  The chairpeople of these education communities have nothing to do with the “everyday” of the schools.  If you have ideas or comments or concerns about fundraising/development or strategic planning then you  can certainly contact the education community chairpeople or the principals.  They all play on the same team.

You may notice when you look at the lists of the members of the education communities that there are many people who do not have children in any of the schools.  The reason is we will have better governance if the members have a broader perspective.  All of the education community members bring some positive attribute to the group.

I hope this information has helped clarify what our education communities do.  I welcome your questions and comments.  I believe in complete transparency.  The community is entitled to know about the work we are doing in our schools.

On that note, one of the big things going on this year that some of you may be wondering about is investigating the idea of creating an academy model for our JJC schools.  There is not much to report yet.  However, I would like to explain what is going on so far.

Jon Mitzmacher and Mauri Mizrahi are leading a task force which is charged with researching and proposing an academy model for our schools.  When I say academy model, I mean creating an education system at the JJC where all of the schools are working together, under an umbrella of the “academy”, toward a common goal.  In otherwards, a school system of Jewish education where our high school seniors will graduate from our synagogue schools with a Jewish education that will be a foundation for the rest of their life. It should not matter which schools they attended within the academy, the goal/result should be the same.

Right now, the task force is in the process of creating a mission statement.  As soon as I am able, I will share that with you.  Once we have a vision/mission, the task force will then propose a plan of how all of the schools can work more closely together and think of our students not as students of the Religious School or Pre-school, but of the JJC Academy which includes all of the synagogue students in all of the schools.

These are exciting times in Education at the Jacksonville Jewish Center.  I hope you all are as excited as I am about the journey.

See you in a few weeks!!

Mauri Mizrahi

Jacksonville Jewish Center

Vice President of Education

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