Sharing ideas on Education, Leadership and Life

Friday, September 14, 2012


I posted this last year but the message is still important and  still very appropriate

Below is my Rosh Hashanah ( New Year's ) Message that I sent out to my faculty.

I just wanted to take a moment and say Thank You!

Thank you for your support
Thank you for your help
Thank you for your understanding and patience
Thank you for all your hard work and dedication

The list can go on but I think you get the idea.

This often is a thankless job and I at times are just as guilty as the next person in not showing my appreciation and HaKarat Hatov (recognizing the good) in all that you do.

In the spirit of being open and transparent, I would like to share with you some of my SMART goals for the coming year some personal and some professional.

I hope to be a better friend and keep connected to friends in other communities

I want to set aside at least 30 min to an hour day for my own learning ( small and manageable)

I want to listen better to your ideas

I want to say thank you to each and every one of you at least once a week

I want to spend more quality time with my family

May we be Zocheh ( merit) a year of health and happiness and may this be a year of prosperity and peace

Wishing you all a Ketiva V'Chatima Tova

Monday, September 10, 2012

Lessons Learned

We started  our first full week of school and at the same time Jews across the world are preparing for the Start of Rosh Hashanah which begins Sunday night. I thought I would reflect on the start of the school year and the lessons I learned that will hopefully make me a better Leader and more importantly a better a person.

By no means is this a complete list just some short reflections.

·        Honesty- Being open and honest. Practicing what you preach., and being as Transparent as possible. ( I think these ideas speak for themselves)
·        Take responsibility- Related to honesty one needs to admit when they did something wrong and Say I am sorry. As I have quoted often ‘Mistakes Happen It is hoe we come back from Mistakes that Matter”
·        Caring- Show people you care about them ( Self explanatory)
·        Listen first- One of the best ways we show people that they matter and that we care about them is to give them the time and respect to listen to them.
·        Be Willing to Learn – No one is perfect and we need to be always willing to learn and take ideas from others
·        Share- Both in the sense of shared responsibility but more importantly sharing of ideas and a culture of shared leadership. We vs I
·        No Problems Just solutions- Meaning focus on the positive. Stay positive and don’t over react or get down, try to stay level headed.

As I was reflecting and putting my thoughts together  I also started reading  ‘Schools that Learn by Peter Senge

He has “Five Disciplines of Organizational Learning”
1.     Personal Mastery – To develop a clear personal vision
2.     Shared Vision – the need to create strategies and principles  to get you there
3.     Mental Models – a discipline based on reflection
4.     Team Learning – to tap into the collective thinking and learning of a group and mobilize that energy to achieve common goals
5.     Systems Thinking- to gain a broader and deeper understanding of the subjects they study and how they fit into a larger system.

I have just started the book but  I thought some of Senge Disciplines spoke to me and to my ideas and wanted to share those with you.

As we embark on a new school year and as I and other Jews prepare for the High Holidays  may this be a year filled with growth and learning.

My Thoughts


Friday, September 7, 2012

Making it Real

Here is an article I wrote for our school newsletter:

As the school year begins we focus on Elul, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.( The High Holidays)  If you ask most students what these days mean to them, they will tell you it is a time for “Teshuvah.” What
does Teshuvah mean and how can we make it real for our students?Literally translated Teshuvah
means to return. At this time of year we return to Hashem ( G-D)and we hope and pray that, as the
Navi ( Prophets) tells us, Hashem returns to us as well. Most students, however, will tell you that Teshuvah means to say I am sorry and ask for forgiveness. Yes, asking for forgiveness is an element of the Teshuvah process, but it is not the complete understanding of Teshuvah.

How can we make the important and central theme of personal growth practical and real for ourselves and,
more importantly, for our students?

I would like to share two thoughts on this topic. Thefirst I learned last week when Rabbi Shmuel Silber, Rabbi of Suburban Orthodox Toras Chaim, came to speak to our students in grades five through seven. Based on a Rashi in last week’s parsha ( Bible Portion ), he said that the reason we do a Chesed (act of kindness) is not for the recognition or the honor but because it is the right thing to do and the Torah( Bible)  told us to do it. When faced with choices, at times the right choice can be unpopular or not the “in thing” to do. Nevertheless it is the correct path to follow. It reminded me of a quote that I saw, “Stand up for what is right even if you stand alone.” For our students today, the message of making the right choices is a very practical and real one.
My second thought on this topic stems from research about setting goals and dealing with change. It is an idea that our Gedolim (sages) have mentioned as well. When setting goals, it is important that our goals are small
and attainable. I shared with the students that during the first Gulf War in 1991, Jews around the world were asked to increase their observance of mitzvot,( Commandmentstezedakah (Charity)  and chesed( Acts of Kindness). It is said that someone asked Rav Shach ZT”L what he would do differently, and he answered that when he says Birkat HaMazon (grace after meals), he will use a Birkon (bencher) and not say it by heart. The lesson is clear. Even one of greatest Gedolim knew that to achieve change and growth small and attainable goals would need to be set. 

As we enter this time of year, there are a lot of challenges and great opportunities ahead of us. As educators we strive to make the learning in all subject areas across the Judaic and general studies come alive for
our students. By connecting our learning to our world, we become lifelong learners. May we all be zocheh (Merit)  to see great things from our children, our school and our community.