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Education Task Force

A MESSAGE FROM THE NEW EDUCATION TASK FORCE

So, who likes change? Personally, I am not always its biggest fan, but I do begrudgingly acknowledge its inevitability. I also realize how it can simultaneously cause fear and excitement: fear of the unknown future and excitement about the possibility of growth and novelty. When the Kol Ami Board asked Caryn Silver and myself to chair a task force to evaluate and rethink our current school model, we were well aware of these contradictory emotions, especially since our experience of the school is already so positive.

I remember the first time I transitioned from feeling like a visitor to Kol Ami to being a part of the congregation. The Kol Ami School students and their parents were gathering in the chapel at the end of the school day for the family service (Shabbat Family T’fillah - SFT). The room was buzzing with energy. Parents and teachers were chatting and kids were playing. Kyle, the song-leader began to strum his guitar and everyone started to enthusiastically sing the various prayers and songs. Judy, our Director of Education, called up a few students who had passed their current Hebrew learning level to receive their certificates. With huge smiles, they each went up to the sound of cheering and applause. The Rabbi gave a compelling talk about the week’s Torah portion, eliciting responses from the kids to the questions he posed. Each teacher gave a quick update on what the kids did in class. Some of them pointed out the arts and crafts scattered throughout the room. On the drive home, my two daughters excitedly discussed what they had learned and what they had done in class. It was exactly what we had hoped Kol Ami would be; an engaged, motivated, and friendly community with an innovative school that gave our kids a wonderfully positive Jewish learning experience.

In addition to SFT, the school has a tradition of creative programming. The school has introduced Jewnior Games, Hebrew Through Movement, family education sessions, Rock Shabbat presentations, mitzvah days, book buddies, etc. It is this innovative approach and sense of community that the task force hopes to build upon. Over the next five months, we will be researching our current model and thinking through alternatives to ensure our school continues to offer a high quality of Jewish Education that is responsive to the needs of the synagogue and parents. There are many things to consider: Do we carry on with our unique Saturday program? Do we continue to require a student’s family to be members of the shul? Do we reduce or increase the number of learning hours? Do we incorporate more flexibility in locations, times, and curriculum and provide on-line options? Do students visit the elderly or bring food to the sick as part of the curriculum? Do we focus more or less on Torah, Hebrew, holidays, history, or culture? Do we coordinate with other shuls, schools, and institutions? These are all difficult questions, but offer a wonderful opportunity for the community to build on the strong work that has already been done on imagining a bright new future for Kol Ami and its school.

If you are interested in these discussions and would like to contribute in any way please contact Caryn Silver (caryn@kidsroomscanada.ca) or Saul Cohen (saul.cohen1@gmail.com) for more information.

L’Shalom,

Saul Cohen

Mon, December 11 2017 23 Kislev 5778