Dear families and friends,
Back-to-school shopping and preparations are such big moments for parents and kids. As the years go by, we never truly forget those new uniforms, the daring haircuts, the new sneakers, the oh-so-cool lunch bags, the funky chatchkes to decorate lockers, and even the great pens or pencils. The truth is that while families are gearing up to return to school, teachers go through a very similar process to begin a school year. Classrooms are turned upside down and arranged and rearranged, teaching supplies are purchased, great care is given to decorating walls with inspirational phrases and useful information, lessons and units are thoughtfully created and planned, and the back-to-school activities are deliberately mapped out. And believe it or not, both students and teachers (rookie and veteran) share the sensation of more than a few butterflies in their stomachs as the first day of school approaches.
To that end, with only a few days to go before the start of the school year, we are eagerly looking forward to welcoming all of you back to Richmond Jewish Day School. There is so much that we want to share with you about what has been happening over this busy summer, about the careful planning and implementation of a number of exciting upgrades and new programs that are sure to make this year a great educational experience.
An upgrade in technology and how it is used is one of the first things that our students will notice when the doors open on September 7. New SMART wireless projectors are in the grade 2 and grade 4 classrooms, bringing an interactive, multimedia dimension to how all the subjects are taught in those grades.
Grade 2 is also piloting the innovative iTaLAM program, a new blended Internet-based digital curriculum for Hebrew and Jewish Heritage (think Mathletics, but for Hebrew!), and the class is equipped with new Google Chromebooks for this purpose. And in a nod to both critical and creative thinking, which are two of the core competencies at the centre of the redesign of the BC curriculum, students will begin to explore STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) concepts of coding, circuitry and robotics through hands-on activities with the LEGO®-compatible Edison Programmable Robot kits.
Even with an increased focus on technology and a challenging yet well-thought-out dual curriculum, we remain a school with a safe school climate, where the social and emotional growth of students is paramount, and derech eretz is promoted as a central value. All of our teachers pride themselves on developing their professional toolboxes to bring out the best in our students, and a number of new initiatives are sure to help us live each school day with a renewed focus on positive behaviours and midot tovot . Stay tuned to this space for more details on this. As well, in our efforts to build community and meet the needs of our working parent families, we are a) making extended aftercare hours at iCare Childcare more affordable to families who need the extra time to get to the school after work to pick up their children and b) partnering with Beth Tikvah by helping to create full-day holiday programming on Sukkot and Shavuot (6 days off from school) for students whose families have to work on those days and do not have reasonable childcare options.
Our connection to the land and to the Land of Israel remains strong. Our school garden (one word: fecund!) is in full bloom, thanks to the loving work of amazing parent and grandparent volunteers over the summer. Eastward, Israel will continue to be a central focus of our school, and we are excitedly awaiting the arrival of our two new shinshiniyot to live and breathe the spirit of Israel and share the uniqueness and chayut of Israel with our students. This is the second consecutive year that we will be benefiting from this program. Additionally, the Partnership Together Educators conference in Israel this summer (which was an amazing experience but the subject of a future blog post) has provided us with new ideas and partnership possibilities with our sister school in Kiryat Shmona, Hamaginim School.
Finally, you will also notice the upgrades to the school’s physical security infrastructure. Thanks to the work of the Security Committee and the critical and ongoing financial support of our families, there is now higher and reinforced fencing ringing our school property. In a few weeks’ time, the work on new parking lot lighting will be completed, making driving to the school at night a safer experience for all of us as the days begin to grow shorter.
With so much going on, we cannot wait for you to join us on September 7. We look forward to learning with you, building community with you, and sharing your children’s successes with you!
May it be a great school year for all of us, and thank you for your trust and investment in Richmond Jewish Day School.
Shabbat Shalom u’mevorach!
*We are very grateful to the generous donors and organizations who provided the resources necessary for these projects. A big thank you to ORT Canada and ORT Vancouver for the partnership and donation of the SMART projectors, to the Isaac and Sophie Waldman Endowment Fund for the funding for the iTalAM pilot program, to PAC and Mark Babins for their support of the robotics program, to the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver for funding the Judaic Holiday Programming / Aftercare support for Richmond-area working parent families, and finally, to the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver and the Betty Averbach Foundation for their support of the Shinshinim program.