A Three-Pronged Approach to Boosting Day School Enrollment in a Low-to-Slow-Growth Market

3 prong approach

By Dr. Harry Bloom Jewish day school growth is getting harder and harder to come by these days. According to a 2006-2010 survey of 50 cross-denominational schools across nine communities, enrollment declined by 14% in non-Orthodox schools and was virtually nil in Modern and Centrist Orthodox schools. 2012 enrollment research by The AVI CHAI Foundation directionally supports these findings. In a low- or no-growth context, schools face an inexorable rise in costs-per-student despite attempts to hold down spending, which further pressure enrollment. In this environment, some innovative approaches are emerging as savvy Heads of School and Boards recognize that remaining passive in the face of these pressures will surely lead to decline. What are they doing? An increasing number of these schools … [Read more...]

The Successful Jewish Educator: When Instinct Meets Know-how

[This series of two articles reflects the learning from our experience with the four-year old Executive MA program in Jewish Education at HUC-JIR. In particular, we focus on two aspects of our learning: 1. why successful mid-career Jewish education professional choose to engage in a rigorous academic experience while working full-time, and 2. how “hybrid” (online and in person) learning at the graduate level can build relationships and result in impressive and profound professional growth.] By Lesley Litman and Michael Zeldin Why would a successful Jewish educator with job security choose to pursue a Master’s degree in Jewish education, a project that demands a significant investment of both time and financial resources? Debbie Kardon-Schwartz is typical of many successful Jewish educators. … [Read more...]

Shared Measurement Tools for Jewish Education: Could It Happen?

By Josh Miller Within Jewish tradition, an appreciation for the importance of shared measurement tools dates back to biblical times. In Deuteronomy 25:15 the Torah teaches: “a perfect and honest measure shall you have, so that your days shall be lengthened on the land…” There are many reasons why it is valuable to have and to honor our universal systems for measurement. These fundamental tools enable us to describe what we observe, compare like items, and draw conclusions from these comparisons. And yet, despite the implicit value of shared measures, the process of developing such tools is not always simple. The Challenge of Establishing Shared Measurement in Jewish Education In the field of Jewish education, establishing universal measures to assess learning outcomes is particularly … [Read more...]

How to Attract, Prepare and Keep Good Day School Teachers

By Sharon Feiman-Nemser Teacher retention and effectiveness stem from a clear vision of good teaching, strong alignment between coursework and field experiences, a focus on subject matter preparation, and a year-long internship. That view is supported by a new report from the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education and funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation, which finds that graduates of the DeLeT (Day School Leadership Through Teaching) Program at Brandeis University and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion feel well prepared for their responsibilities as day school teachers. The report comes from the Longitudinal Survey of Day School Teachers, which has been tracking the careers of DeLeT alumni since 2007. Previous reports described graduates’ backgrounds and views of day … [Read more...]

Experiential Jewish Education for All

By Mark S. Young Research, Design, Experiment, Implement, Reflect, Apply the learning, and Refine the practice. Jewish educators reading this first line may recognize this as a slight modification of the cycle of learning by David Kolb. Learning by experience and reflecting on those experiences are a hallmark to the principles of experiential education. At The Davidson School of JTS, experiential education which, combined with the serious study of Jewish content to form Experiential Jewish Education (EJE), has also been a hallmark of study in our MA in Jewish Education program for over a decade. It was a small piece of the puzzle beginning in 2000, growing in each subsequent year. At first, Theories and ideas of EJE were introduced as part of one class of students who were completing … [Read more...]

What We Do (and Don’t Do) When We Do Experiential Education

By Shuki Taylor [This is the third article in a series dedicated to experiential Jewish education.] Introduction: Days of Awe According to David A. Kolb, Experiential Learning is “… the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience.” As I consider the prayers I will whisper on Yom Kippur, I look back at my experience of the past year. I think about my personal ups and downs, my professional accomplishments and failures. I think about the times where I felt the closeness of God and the times that I felt his Hester - His absence. I try to conjure up all of these experiences so that I can finally ask myself, as the new year begins and the familiar songs are sung: how was this year different from the last? And what will next year bring? In a loose … [Read more...]

The Top Five Truths of Leadership

[eJP note: While this post speaks about leadership in day schools, there are important lessons applicable to ALL organizations - regardless of mission. Substitute Head of School for CEO, parents for stakeholders, etc.] By Jane Taubenfeld Cohen I am privileged to work with schools all over North America and to have a view of leadership in our day schools that spans denomination, school size, and age. I work with new Heads of School and experienced Heads of School and I learn so much from each interaction. The following are some of the most important things I’ve learned: 1. The leader sets the tone. No culture is ever perfect, but a leader’s impact on culture is profound and his or her control over it cannot be overstated. If the leader is calm and patient, views his or her faculty as … [Read more...]

Professionalizing a Passion

By Shuki Taylor [This is the second article in a series dedicated to experiential Jewish education.] In recent years, the field of experiential Jewish education (EJE) has been subject to much attention. Last week I listed some of the new initiatives that Yeshiva University’s Certificate Program in Experiential Jewish Education has launched in effort to provide high-level training in this field. Why is there such a growing interest in the field of experiential Jewish education? I believe that there are three reasons for this: 1. Recognition of Impact The first reason for the growing interest in experiential Jewish education is because of the impact it has. In 2013, we published the study "Mapping Goals in Experiential Jewish Education." In interviewing educators from diverse … [Read more...]