Biweekly e-newsletter of Community Day School
15 September 2016
12 Elul 5776
It is with great humility and deep appreciation that I give my Head of School space in this week’s ETON to Mark Minkus, our Head of Intermediate School and Middle School. He speaks for all of us. Read his D'var Torah (reflection on a Torah portion), and you will see why. ― Avi Munro
More Than Enough
“And Moses spoke to the entire community of the children of Israel, saying: “This is the word that the Lord has commanded to say:” In today’s world of digital signs, tweets, and banner ads, there are a lot of ways to get the attention of a large group of people. Even though he didn’t have a megaphone, iPhone, or microphone, Moses had the attention of his audience. What was this message that the Lord wanted the people to hear so clearly? Can a few words spoken thousands of years ago really have any importance to us today?
This story, found in Shemot (Exodus) 35-36, describes when Moses asked the Israelites to make offerings of various precious stones, metals, and fabrics, as well as give of their time as craftsmen, seamstresses, and carpenters. This request was made so that they might construct the Mishkan or tabernacle, a portable sanctuary where God could dwell among His people. I believe that the instructions given and the people’s response are an illustration for something that happens with our staff, every day of the year, here at Community Day School.
“Take from yourselves an offering for the Lord.” They gave for a worthwhile reason. The children of Israel were highly motivated to give of their possessions and their talents because they were commanded to do so by God. They also were giving to something that had great meaning to them. Not only was it a place to atone for sins and display gratitude, but it also contained the Luchot ha’brit (stone tablets) in the Kodesh HaKodashim (Holy of Holies). At CDS, our teachers and staff give of themselves every day for the most worthwhile reason on Earth: to help children grow. I have never seen people work so hard for something so worthwhile. Nothing could be more important than ensuring the future of the children entrusted to our care.
“Every man and woman whose heart inspired them to generosity to bring for all the work that the Lord had commanded to make, through Moses, the children of Israel brought a gift for the Lord.” They gave with a generous heart. The people had a choice. They were commanded to give, but they could have chosen not to give. If you crack open a thesaurus, you will see that the word ‘unselfishness’ is a synonym for generosity. The people gave because of what was in their hearts, a giving, selfless attitude. Similarly, the teachers at our school are passionate and inspired, and they are generous with their time and talents. They are tireless in displaying a willingness to give whatever they can to benefit their students.
“Everyone who set aside an offering of silver or copper brought the offering for the Lord, and everyone with whom acacia wood was found for any work of the service, brought it. And every wise hearted woman spun with her hands, and they brought spun material: blue, purple, and crimson wool, and linen.” They each gave something different. This passage shows us that some of the Israelites brought material possessions such as: gold, silver, linen, wool, wood, spices, and precious stones. Others brought their talents, like: weavers, coppersmiths, lapidaries, embroiders, and master craftsmen. The connection to our teachers and staff couldn’t be more clear. The diversity of talent in this building is astonishing. From helping 5-year-olds learn to share to challenging 8th Graders to master postulates in Geometry. From installing a new light fixture to making delicious, kosher food for hungry kids. From 3-year-olds learning songs about the Torah to 13-year-olds lifting the Torah. A diversity of gifts, liberally applied by highly motivated people, yields amazing results.
“And they spoke to Moses, saying: "The people are bringing very much, more than is enough for the labor of the articles which the Lord had commanded to do. So Moses commanded, and they announced in the camp, saying: "Let no man or woman do any more work for the offering for the Holy." So the people stopped bringing.” They gave more than expected. Have you ever heard of a charitable organization issuing a press release to announce that they will no longer be taking donations? As ludicrous as that sounds, the children of Israel gave so much that they were told to stop. The power of the cause, the generosity in their hearts, the value of the material possessions and talents that they had, all converged in a beautiful scene of giving and then giving some more. The teachers and staff at CDS are constantly going “above and beyond” as they come early, stay late, and then take work home. There is a culture of exceeding expectations among the staff of CDS. There is no task too difficult or work day too long if the outcome of that labor benefits a child.
Is this school a perfect place? No. But it is a place that reminds me of a group of people, thousands of years ago, that gave more than anyone thought they could, because it was worth it.
Our teachers and staff give “more than enough”
New Learning Innovation Coach at CDS
Up Ahead at CDS
Democracy in Action
By Mark Minkus, Head of Intermediate School and Middle School
Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said: “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” Yesterday, our Middle School students took full advantage of their right to vote when the Student Council elections were held in the Ulam K’lalee. On Wednesday afternoon, all STUCO members running for office gave a speech, making their case for why they should be President, Associate Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, or Historian. The 5th graders were our special guests for the speeches. Earlier in the day, the first Jr. Student Council meeting was held in Ms. R’s room, so the 5th Grade was exposed to a lot of student government yesterday.
The election process began when MS students voluntarily joined MS Student Council and then requested a reference form to be able to run for an office. Each candidate had to complete the form, detailing the reasons why they wanted to be a STUCO officer, and then had to get my signature for approval. For me, the most fun part of the process was when the creative campaign signs began to populate the walls and doors of the MS hallway. One of my favorites was a large photo of a Koala Bear, with the caption: “Vote 4 Dania. She has all of the Koalafacations.” Another fun sign had a picture of Spongebob and said: “Don’t pick your nose, pick Ada for Historian!” I’ll let you guess what Spongebob was doing in the picture.
At the conclusion of the speeches, the MS students exercised their right to vote by filling out a secret ballot. Of course, the students waited with anticipation until the winners were announced today at lunch.
Congratulations to Sophia L., President, Elana K., Vice President, Madison Z., Associate Vice President, Gabriella N., Secretary, Nadav G., Treasurer, and Ada Perlman, Historian. These student leaders will help guide our student government organization through events and activities all year long. Stay tuned for more about what MS STUCO is up to in future ETON issues!
Introducing a new crop of student leaders in Middle School ...
Growth Mindset Culture
By Mark Minkus, Head of Intermediate School and Middle School
Is your intelligence fixed? Are you born “smart?” Or is there something you can do to grow your intelligence? Can you actually change your own brain?
If you ask the Intermediate School students, they will confidently tell you that we all have the power to change our own brains. That is because IS students now know our brains are like muscles that can become stronger with practice. Research shows how, thanks to neuroplasticity, we are actually able to carve out and strengthen new pathways in our brains over time.
In Mr. H-G’s classes, students are learning how strengthening your brain all begins with adopting something called a “growth mindset.” Students who have a growth mindset embrace challenges. They know that intelligence is not a fixed trait, but rather a trait that can be developed. Instead of trying to always “look” smart, students with a growth mindset have a goal of learning something new. These students are not afraid to step outside their comfort zone. They value the learning process and they are not afraid to make mistakes. Most importantly, they don’t give up when they are challenged along the way.
Over the coming school year, IS students will continue to develop growth mindsets in all of their classes as we help them to view mistakes as powerful learning opportunities and to embrace challenges with persistence and perseverance. To learn more about growth mindset, check out Carol Dweck’s TED Talk.
We’re building a Growth Mindset culture in Intermediate School
Odyssey of the Mind Begins
By Rebecca Williams, Middle School Language Arts
Odyssey of the Mind is underway at CDS! Now into its third year, a record 22 members have joined this fast-growing team (doubled in size from last year!). Students in Division I (Grades 4 and 5) and Division II (Grades 6 to 8) meet on Mondays and Wednesdays after school to learn how to think outside the box to solve problems through open-ended challenges that appeal to a wide range of interests. While encouraging imaginative paths to problem-solving, Odyssey of the Mind teaches students how to identify challenges, communicate effectively, work as a team, and to think creatively to solve problems.
During their first Odyssey session this year, students at CDS engaged in a number of activities including designing a structure that will carry water across an area without spilling, building a tower that can hold weight, devising a system of nonverbal communication to complete tasks, and brainstorming ideas for their solution to the 2017 Odyssey of the Mind team problem.
We are excited to announce that on May 21, 2017, CDS will host the first Pittsburgh Jewish Day School Odyssey of the Mind Sunday Competition. During the competition against teams from Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh and Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh, students will have the opportunity to show off their solutions to spontaneous verbal and hands-on problems, as well as their 2017 team problem.
We look forward to an exciting and memorable year of Odyssey of the Mind at CDS!
By Chaim Steinberg, Middle School Social Studies
This summer I began a 13-month Teacher Leadership Fellowship at Brandeis University. To list all of the things I learned or am in the process of learning would take too long, but suffice it to say, the program was amazing.
Something that came up a lot in discussion among my colleagues and myself was the idea of Project Based Learning (PBL). As a group, we watched the movie Beyond Measure, which follows a number of different educational institutions as they try to adapt PBL to their curriculum. As soon as the movie was over, I started thinking about how to apply what I had just watched to CDS. We already have a PBL component; it’s called IGNITE. But I was excited to add a little more timeliness and a different kind of structure to the program.
My idea, shamelessly stolen from the movie, was that our PBL opportunities should be structured around solving specific problems, and students need to demonstrate responses that reflect broad, cross-curricular learning. Considering current events this fall, it was an easy decision to ask the students “How do you get elected President of the United States?”
While seemingly direct, there are many different ways students can address the question. Will they look at voting trends and data models? Will they study great speeches and write their own? Will they examine the major issues that faced a candidate in the 1830s and ask whether or not a modern candidate faces any of the same concerns? I’m excited to test this model of IGNITE in the laboratory of a smaller group. I’m sure the students will come up with some incredible ideas and I can’t wait to find out what they will create.
Taking on the presidential election in a Project Based Learning lab
By Michal Schachter, Hebrew and Jewish Studies teacher
A bounty of squash and pumpkins was harvested this week from the CDS Sukkot Garden
Stories from the 4th Grade Hallway …
Best Laid Plans
By Sarah Glascom Morris, Early Childhood Co-Director
Sometimes you mean to read a Rosh HaShana book, but instead you end up with a marathon barefoot base-running session. At least that’s how we roll in the CDS 3-year-old room.
Today brought us a picture-perfect fall morning, so we decided to enjoy our snack outdoors on the athletic field and then read “Sammy Spider’s First Rosh Hashanah” as we start to get ready for the High Holidays. However, during our picnic, Arbel happened to notice the dirt on the baseball diamond was still wet from the morning dew and wanted to see what it felt like.
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been inspired by the children’s fascination with water to explore the element in different ways, such as painting with water outside using funnels, flat and cylindrical brushes, plastic syringes, and pipettes. We’ve also incorporated a variety of shovels, rakes, scoopers, and miscellaneous kitchen utensils into the equipment that we use on the natural playground. We decided to follow Arbel’s curiosity to continue these explorations on the baseball field.
Then his friends decided they wanted to see what the wet sand felt like between between their toes. Next thing we knew, shoes were flying off and all of our friends were racing around the bases with abandon. The cries of pure joy were priceless, as we got our morning exercise, learned some things about the properties of dirt, and felt very blessed to be together as a class in such a beautiful place on such a beautiful morning.
Sometimes the best laid plans of Early Childhood teachers go awry …
By Jessica Pindzola, Pre-K Teacher
Morah Lindsey was out of school unexpectedly last week for an appendectomy, but the Pre-K students knew how to handle the situation because in Pre-K we work everyday to be upstanders.
Our substitute Morah Jamie (CDS Class of 2008) needed to learn the ins and outs of our day, so the students showed her what to do. They explained to her how specials work, demonstrated how we walk quietly in the halls, and told her where we go for each class. They showed her where toys go during clean-up and how we all work together to put things away, even if we didn’t create the mess. The students even remembered to pick up the area they were playing in before asking Morah Jamie if they could please take out something else. They worked hard on projects and played hard on the playground. They learned that the best way to keep from missing someone is to have fun while they're gone so you have lots of stories to share with them when you see them next!
Once we found out that Morah Lindsey would be out longer, recovering from surgery, the students began making "I love you" and "We miss you" cards for her. They decided that it would be nice to make a “Welcome Back” poster to hang up in the doorway to greet her when she returned on Wednesday and planned to hug her gently because “her belly hurt.”
Pre-K stepped up when Morah Lindsey had to step out
Lions Take The Field
By David Thyberg, Assistant Athletic Director
On any given afternoon throughout the week, you’re likely to see lions out on the beautiful grass field adjoining the Beechwood Boulevard curve at the back of our campus. Not the kind of lions you might see on a safari, though. These are a different breed. Our dedicated student-athletes of CDS have taken to the outdoors, training in the shining sun and listening carefully to their coaches as they pause for water breaks in the shade between drills. Practices have been productive, and now it’s time to put all the skills and teamwork to the test against real competition.
The Girls Soccer team took on Ellis in their season opener this past week, while the Varsity and JV squads faced off against Winchester Thurston in their first league matches. Mr. Helfer and Mrs. Goldblum have prepared the players to exhibit control on the ball and good sportsmanship towards the referees and the opposition. The Lions hustled up and down the field, tried out new positions, and used collective teamwork to meet each challenge head on. Everyone is having fun and looking forward to the next set of matches.
Meantime, CDS Cross Country launched their 2016 campaign with their first meet against Hillel, Ellis, and Shady Side Academy. There were more than 70 runners in attendance, and CDS performed admirably as athletes, as well as hosts for the event. Our school has a tradition of producing spirited runners, and this year is no different. Mr. St. Clair has everyone working in unison, as usual. The 8th Grade class leads the way, as younger students follow in their footsteps. Cross Country may be seen as an individual sport, but the team aspect should not be overlooked. Being part of a united and determined group makes each individual stronger, and it shows in our team performances.
Last, but not least, we have our youngest athletes to acknowledge and encourage. The Little Lions Field Hockey and Running Club continue their training as the school year gets fully underway. Some of these runners will undoubtedly become future Middle School Cross Country members, and it’s great to see everyone developing healthy habits being outdoors and physically active at an early age. As for the field hockey club, participants have been having a blast learning the basics and mastering the fundamentals of play. It’s a tough sport to learn, but the kids are making great strides.
Stay tuned for more news from the CDS athletic department as our fall season progresses. As always, don’t forget to come out and cheer on our student-athletes at their various events. The support is much appreciated. Let’s go Lions!
CDS Lions are on the prowl!
Staff Profile: Nurse Susie Kerr
This fall, we’ve welcomed Susan Kerr (“Nurse Susie”) to the CDS staff. Nurse Susie has her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and school nurse certification from Slippery Rock University. She worked as a staff nurse for more than a decade at Westmoreland Regional Hospital in Greensburg and comes to us after six years at Penn-Trafford School District, where she was a school nurse helping to meet the daily medical needs of more than 500 elementary school students and staff. Susie lives Claridge, Pa. in Westmoreland County with her husband, Jeff, who is an engineer, and their sons, Josh, 15, and Billy, 17, who attend Penn-Trafford High School. We sat down with her to learn more about life and times in the nurse’s office so far at CDS:
Alumni Profile: Rachel Haalman Blaufeld
Kol Hakavod to …
She helped me so much last year as my mentor and this year as my co-teacher.
Thank-you for always being so organized and keeping everyone around you organized as well!
Ms. Cedarholm always greets everyone with a smile and friendly comment.
Nosh and Groove Like It’s 1972
Iton is the Hebrew word for newspaper. Since ours is electronic, we call it an E-ton!
Community Day School
6424 Forward Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15217
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