Thank you to the teachers and students for all of your hard work in making this year’s curriculum fair exciting, engaging, and importantly educational!  

This year’s theme, “Through the Eyes of a Leader,” emphasized the integration of the Science, Leadership and Arts Academies with our Jewish identity, practice and values. The End in Mind this year was to show the full breadth of the curriculum.

The night was filled with creative displays and interactive projects. The first grade students created a stop motion animation movie of the four seasons as well as a game about the four seasons using the Tiny Tap app. The posters they created displayed their research about the average precipitation, temperature, and sunrise and sunset times for each season. Parents also enjoyed the seasonal snacks available at each season’s table. Demonstrations of an earthquake shake table and volcanic eruptions were the highlight of the second grade’s presentation. Their original “Earth Books,” posters, and bulletin boards educated the parents about our changing Earth. The third grade students and their parents synergized as they built and tested parachutes. Demonstrations of Newton’s Laws of Motion, friction and air resistance, and scientific variables rounded out the presentations. The fourth grade students explored an environmental theme on renewable and nonrenewable natural resources, fossil fuels and plastic pollution. The signature presentation was a “Wheel of Fortune” game where parents were challenged to answer questions about plastic and fossil fuels. The walls were filled with charts and graphs summarizing the types of plastic the students found in their homes along with informational posters about fossil fuels, plastic pollution, and alternative sources of energy. The students also shared the results of their field trip to Shop Rite where they analyzed how much plastic, paper, and cloth bags were used in just one hour. The shocking results showed that on a slow day at Shop Rite almost 1,000 plastic bags are used in just one hour. Their mural showing the problems with plastic pollution in the ocean will be a long-term display in the hallway. It was all about engineering in the fifth grade. By using the engineering design process, the fifth grade students synergized to build a Rube Goldberg machine that filled the room. The elaborate machine included a long marble run, loop-the-loop racetrack, and domino run that resulted in the release of a large bouquet of balloons.  

The Middle School students have looked through the eyes of a leader with the end in mind of identifying habits that lead to personal and professional success. Each student researched a leader from history, literature, science, mathematics, or Jewish history. They asked, how is this person a leader? What did he or she contribute to humanity? What can we learn from this leader? How did this leader utilize the 7 Habits? When Stephen Covey developed the 7 Habits he knew the best place to look for leadership was in the past, at highly effective and successful individuals. What was it that made their impact so lasting? By studying the leaders of the past, the students will bring their qualities into our lives and carry their legacy forward.

The impact of the presentations was enhanced by the Middle School students assembling as a group in the gymnasium wearing costumes! Seeing Rav Kook, Queen Elizabeth, and the Fox from the Little Prince, alongside Nicola Tesla, Sir Isaac Newton, and Theodore Herzl emphasized the importance of a broad curriculum through which students can explore important literary and historical themes alongside scientific discoveries, mathematical theories, and prominent Jewish leaders. There was even a friendly rivalry between Nicola Tesla and Thomas Edison.

The curriculum fair is a wonderful way to mark the midpoint of the school year. There are many exciting events planned for the rest of the year that will highlight all of the academic progress the students make under the guidance of their teachers. At the end of the year, our Leadership Day, will be another opportunity for us all to gather and celebrate the successes of the year.

Jump Rope For Heart is coming soon: We are excited to be among thousands of schools striving to wipe out heart disease through Jump Rope for Heart! Your student will become a Heart Hero by taking care of their own heart, spreading the American Heart Association's message, and raising funds for life saving research. Any student who makes a $5 DONATION WILL BE
RECOGNIZED AND RECEIVE a SUPER PUP or splatter RUBBER DUCK key chain and lanyard. Donors giving $10 or more will receive both items (while supplies last.)

Thank you for supporting the American Heart Association!

By Mrs. Kelly

tech

Technology use in the school continues to grow and improve. Last year, the school piloted the use of Google Apps for Education in some of the classes. It was a big hit in the middle school, greatly enhancing communication between the teachers and students. In addition, the students found it helpful to be able to continue at home conversations begun in class. Learning no longer ends at 3:30! This year, all of the teachers have Google based email accounts and many of the classes have created Google Classrooms. In First and Second grades the students are using an app called Raz Kids for improving reading skills, which they are really enjoying! The students are able to use the app both in school and at home. To further facilitate the school's increased use of technology, we now have an iPad charging and storage cart and have obtained additional iPads. Thank you to Andy Simon for helping assemble the cart!

By Mrs. Sava

According to Jewish tradition, there are four dates on the calendar which are known as a “Rosh HaShanah”, a new year. The most familiar to people is in the fall when the calendar year changes and we blow the shofar. Another one of those dates is the 15th of the month of Shevat. This day is known as Tu B’Shevat and is considered a new year for trees. Tu B’Shevat celebrates the rebirth of tree and the sprouting of new fruits, as spring approaches in the Land of Israel. This is significant according to the rabbis of the Talmud as by this point the majority of the winter rains have fallen and the sap within the trees begins to flow. The Tu B’Shevat seder was developed in Tsfat in the mid-16th century by students of the famed Kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchak Luria. They wrote a short pamphlet entitled “Pri Eitz Hadar” in which they designed a seder, modeled on the Pesach seder, in order to encourage people to eat a variety of fruits and drink cups of wine, which is of course made from grapes. The Kabbalists held that eating fruit had two advantages. First, eating fruit helps one attain a higher level of spirituality, and second, eating fruit would actually help people make atonement for sins. This is only one instance showing that Jewish tradition is full of references to different fruits being akin to people and Torah.

 Click here to view pictures from the event! 

By Rabbi Traiger

This is an exciting time to be a member of the Academies at GBDS Board of Trustees.  The Board is playing a big role on many fronts.  We are helping our enrollment grow, looking at changes in the Day School world which provide new opportunities to our beloved school, and, of course, making sure that we have the resources to succeed. 
 
It was over two years ago that Mr. Smolen presented to us his visionary plan to elevate the GBDS curriculum from Early Childhood through 8th Grade by introducing the Academy concept. This concept began to be realized last year, particularly in the area of science. It is now further taking shape with an ongoing focus on Leadership as we have become a “Leader in Me” school.  We are also strengthening our arts programs (music, theater, choir and visual arts) by increasing opportunities to participate and to celebrate the Arts Academy. The focus is clear. We start with our core values which include teaching mutual respect and making the world a better place. We give our students the ability to succeed by providing them with the necessary educational, leadership, and interpersonal tools.
 
The Board will continue to play a role in guiding the transition to a full Academy program but, first and foremost, it is our responsibility to make sure that the funding is available. Toward that end, we are extremely pleased that the special matching grant which matches all increases in annual donations, has been extended. Think of it! If you can get someone who has not previously contributed to make a 
contribution, the amount will automatically be doubled with your children as the beneficiaries. 
 
With respect to enrollment, GBDS was proud to graduate 10 students from our 8th Grade last year. Having this large class graduate, however, has created a challenging situation as we try to grow the school. We have been gratified to see many new students enrolling.  To keep this positive momentum going, the Board has voted to not raise tuition this year and is working to streamline the financial aid process. Our goal is to encourage all of our families to re-enroll as early as possible so that we can make 
the critical staffing decisions for next year. 
 
Another topic which was discussed at our last Board meeting was improving communication between the Board and our community. While the Board does not get involved in day-to-day decisions at the school, it is important that we know your concerns and suggestions for how to make our school even 
better. This newsletter, which will appear periodically in the Keshet, is a start. More information on how you can contact the board will be available shortly. 
 
Finally, it is also our responsibility to keep our finger on the pulse of what is happening throughout the United States in the Day School movement. What are other schools doing to deal with the new demographics in the Jewish world? Are there opportunities for the Academies at GBDS to increase our recruitment base without sacrificing any of our core values? The answer, and again this is why it’s an exciting time to be a member of the Board, is a resounding “Yes!” 
 
Everything discussed in this article will be on full display on the evening of January 26. On that night our students will demonstrate their Leadership skills and we will have a very special opportunity to hear from Dr. Jon Mitzmacher, the Executive Director of the Schechter Day School Network. After that presentation, parents will have the opportunity to formally and informally ask questions of Dr. Mitzmacher and the GBDS Board.  We look forward to seeing you there for this very special and important program.

 

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Academies at Gerrard Berman Day School
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