Biweekly e-newsletter of
Community Day School
25 January 2018
9 Sh’vat 5778
In this issue:
Candle Lighting Times:
Light Shabbat candles - 5:13 p.m.
Shabbat ends - 6:22 p.m.
New on the calendar:
Head of School Message
By Avi Baran Munro, Ed.M.
More than 400 of our CDS family and friends partied like they were on a beach vacation last Saturday at Sun & Schmooze: A Tropical Gala, which was the perfect escape from the winter blues. The August Wilson Center in Downtown was transformed into a lush tropical paradise.
Each Sun & Schmooze attendee received a lei, and there were aloha shirts galore, plenty of flip-flops, and even a shark and mermaid floating around the party with live tropical fish on every table. Partygoers enjoyed the signature cocktail "Ruach Rum Punch" and other fruity concoctions at the tiki bar, delicious tropical bites like Hawaiian meatballs and jerk chicken, and dancing to the island beats of DJ Sosa.
Special shout-out to alumni who were in attendance and to our youngest alumni from the Class of 2017, who sold raffle tickets with characteristic CDS ruach that could not be refused.
While basking in the tropical glow, we celebrated Community Leadership Award winners State Rep. Dan and Debbie Frankel and Volunteer of the Year Dana Himmel, all three CDS alumni parents. We recognized the Frankels, with deep appreciation for Dan’s unflagging and vocal support of the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. Administered by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh on behalf of Pittsburgh’s Jewish day schools, the EITC program distributes nearly a million dollars annually to fund tuition assistance that helps ensure a CDS education is affordable to the widest diversity of Jewish families.
And we applauded Dana Himmel’s million hours as team parent and general do-gooder, whose presence and effort graced our after-school sports programs, Israel auctions, and countless other moments in the school (including weekly doughnut and bagel deliveries, which should not be underestimated in their importance!).
Beyond the palm trees and hula dancing was an important cause. We raised more than $190,000 to support educational programs at CDS and to provide tuition assistance for families in need.
To inspire investments in—and naches (pride and joy) from—Community Day School, I was thrilled to announce, from the Sun & Schmooze stage, a new and significant gift to CDS. Robbin Steif, founder, CEO, and sole owner of Lunametrics, recently sold her company and decided to make a leadership gift to Community Day School in the amount of $100,000.
Robbin’s gift will multiply, leveraging close to $100,000 more in matching funds in recognition of more than $400,000 in new and increased donations this year, with many of those gifts coming from many of you who are reading this right now. We are supremely grateful to Robbin and also so grateful to our past Match donors, many of whom were in attendance at the Gala as well!
Everything we celebrated at Sun & Shmooze, and everyday, is made possible through the superhuman efforts of our singularly talented, highly qualified, caring faculty of educators, administrators, and staff members and the volunteer efforts of our dedicated lay leaders, Executive Committee, and Board of Trustees. Our community’s continued support has enabled us to build a strong, vibrant, dynamic, innovative, and inclusive Jewish learning community here in Pittsburgh that is creating a better world every day, one child a time. We thank all of our guests, passionate volunteers, generous sponsors, and extraordinary honorees who made the gala a tropical night to remember!
Photos: Joe Appel Photography
MLK Day 2018
Worldwide, race remains a barrier to access, opportunity, and peace. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we helped our students begin to unpack some of the systems and institutions that have produced this disparity over centuries. With the guiding theme of “Borders,” we used the opportunity of our third “day on” for MLK Day to both celebrate—and complicate—Dr. King’s legacy.
After a keynote address by Pittsburgh theater director Adil Mansoor, this program looked very different across grade levels here at CDS, but one thing was constant—the students approached this day of learning and reflection with open minds and open hearts, filled with joy and energy and curiosity and compassion.
We are grateful for the vision and passion of CDS Librarian Whitney Philipps, who created this transformational experience for our students. Together with Jackie Goldblum and the Facing History team, Whitney and all our CDS educators and guests brought it it to life. We are also thankful for the generosity and support of Facing History and Ourselves, the Alfred M. Oppenheimer Memorial Fund, and the Sylvia and Martin Snow Charitable Foundation for making this day possible. We are also gratified that we’ve created a day that brought a dozen alumni back for a warm visit with their teachers and friends.
At times, we’re asked why a Jewish day school like ours chooses to spend the day doing this kind of work. In response, we can only ask “how can we not?” as our students become part of an intergenerational conversation that has the power to bend the universe toward justice and kindness.
The students and teachers of CDS spent MLK Day “on” instead of taking the day off
Up Ahead At CDS
It’s Not Mindfulness Without Kindness
By Oriyah Sandefur, 3-Year-Old Teacher
A major component of the 3s classroom is mindfulness, which we have been working on since the beginning of the year. One form of mindfulness we practice is being in control of our bodies. During meeting times, we sometimes try an exercise using a rain stick. The children have to carefully pass it to the child next to them without it making a sound. If the child makes a sound, the rain stick goes back to the first person, and we start again. Once the children mastered passing the rain stick, we tried passing hand bells, which is a more challenging instrument.
Another form of mindfulness we practice is respecting one another’s time to speak. The children are in the beginning stages of understanding what it means to have a conversation. They are learning that there is a time when one person speaks and then another person can respond to what they are saying. When one of the teachers is talking to someone else, they have learned to place a hand on their shoulder or arm to indicate that they are waiting to speak to them. Recently, Morah Sarah was asking friends about Tu B’Shevat. They’re learning to raise their hands to share their ideas and to listen to their peers.
The most important part of mindfulness, or as Morah Sarah says, the “Number One Rule,” is kindness. Each day the children engage in activities that encourage them to think of another person instead of themselves. One day a child was playing in the natural playground and tripped and fell. Another child came over, unprompted, and asked, “Are you OK?” During clean up time in the classroom, children will often help each other put away toys, instead of one of them cleaning up alone. Some of the older children help the younger ones zip up their jackets before going outside. In the last few weeks during nap time, some of the older children have been rubbing some of their friends’ backs to help them go to sleep.
We are continuing to be mindful of ourselves and one another throughout the year, and each Jewish holiday also helps to reaffirm different aspects of mindfulness.
The number one rule of mindfulness in the 3-year-old classroom is kindness
Atelier In Action
By Jessica Pindzola, Pre-K teacher
The teacher, parent, and environment are all teachers in a Reggio Emilia-inspired classroom. As an important part of our environment, the atelier, or art studio, plays an especially transformational role enhancing and guiding our Pre-K community.
The Pre-K students love working with different materials to create inventive art projects in the classroom. We have a “Mini Atelier” in the classroom, an assortment of supplies and materials to be used for art projects. The materials range from necessities like scissors, glue, markers, paper, or yarn, to interesting found objects and recycled items such as cardboard tubes, buttons, or bottle caps.
The Atelier in the Annex is always busy!
1st Grade Habitat Explorers
By Tzippy Mazer, Head of Lower School and Hebrew and Jewish Studies
As part of their science curriculum, our 1st Grade classes participate in the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Habitat Explorers program. In three different seasons, our students walk to the Frick Environmental Center to explore Frick Park. Part of our winter exploration is to learn about woods in the winter, and the students learn how plants and animals adapt to winter conditions. This year, our 1st graders learned that sometimes we must adapt to winter conditions as well.
Unfortunately, our students were scheduled to go to Frick Park last week, when the weather was bitterly cold and the sidewalks were icy and slippery. With conditions not ideal for taking a walk to the park or exploring the woods, there was only one thing to do...the park had to come to us.
The wonderful Conservancy staff who normally meet us at the park came to Community Day School. Our students completed a stewardship project by making bagel bird feeders, now hanging outside the CDS front entrance. They learned about the need of local birds to eat all day long to stay warm in the winter; the birds are able to find seeds on plants all over Pittsburgh to help keep them full.
Luckily, the third session will take place in the spring, and the students will be able to explore the park’s woodlands and look for birds. Learning outdoors with nature as their guide cultivates discovery and curiosity in our students, and we are so fortunate to have all of this available to us so close to home.
Due to bitter cold, the park had to come to CDS for the winter session of Habitat Explorers instead of vice versa—but that didn’t stop our 1st graders from exploring
Community, In And Out
By Tzippy Mazer, Head of Lower School and Hebrew and Jewish Studies
One of the things that we love about Community Day School is the feel of community—our students get involved in our school community as well as the Jewish community at large. One great example of this is our Minyan Makers. Students in 7th and 8th Grade join one of our local synagogues to help make sure that they have a morning minyan. We have partnered with Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha for many years, and this year, we are happy to also partner with Congregation Beth Shalom.
On Monday mornings, approximately 18 8th Grade students volunteer to join the early morning minyan at Beth Shalom. On Wednesday mornings, approximately 20 7th Grade students join the early morning minyan at Tree of Life Or L’Simcha. Not all of our students choose to go every week, and some of you may wonder what happens to those students who are not going.
The students who are not attending Minyan Makers are given the opportunity to help with our own school community. This year, our 7th graders have partnered with our 2nd graders on Wednesday mornings. As the 2nd Grade goes into the Music room to work on their Tefillah skills, they are joined by these helpful middle schoolers, who arrive wearing tefillin and act as role models and partners.
2nd graders see that learning tefillah is a process, and even in 7th Grade, there are things that you can still learn. Sometimes you even get lucky enough to have a sibling join you!
Different age groups coming together during morning tefillah is a wonderful way for us to continue that warm sense of community that makes CDS so special
Cracking The Case
By David Harris-Gershon, Intermediate School Jewish Studies
Since the beginning of the year, 4th Grade students have been learning how to use deductive reasoning when analyzing complicated works of biblical commentary in Jewish Studies. However, if you asked these students, “How’s the deductive reasoning going?” you’d likely be met with puzzled stares or curious looks.
Try reworking that question, though, and inquire instead about their F.B.I. agencies or cases, and you’ll likely be met with boisterous explanations and jumping from a good many students. Such is the power of simulated learning environments, when used effectively, to enhance student engagement and learning.
In 4th Grade Jewish Studies, the children have been working extremely hard on cracking simulated “F.B.I. cases.” These cases, which I mold from curricular materials into analytical tasks that incorporate Rabbinic commentaries, have sharpened students' textual skills and use of deductive reasoning.
When the year began, very few students were able to successfully use deductive reasoning when trying to tease out the implied question from a biblical commentary (פירוש) using contextual clues and the narrative in Exodus (שמות). Now? Students are successfully doing so on average at a 50 percent rate.
As for how we’re teaching students to use a growth mindset in order to positively approach, and view, those moments when they fail? That’s another discussion entirely.
All The CDS News That’s Fit To Print
By Nicole Lewis, Intermediate School Language Arts and Social Studies
The CDS 4th Grade was inspired to write articles for their own class newspaper after a recent visit from Director of Marketing and Communications Jennifer Bails. Mrs. Bails shared her experiences as a former reporter with our class, and her passion for writing was clear when she spoke.
One of the highlights of her visit was when Mrs. Bails shared samples of the published articles she wrote as a general assignment reporter for the Valley News Dispatch, a science and medical writer for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and as a freelance science writer. Mrs. Bails explained how her dad used to clip out and save every article she wrote, which she continued to also do. She saved the published articles in giant binders, and she brought them in for students to look through.
Mrs. Bails had a lot of valuable information and advice to offer to students. Students learned to include the most important information in the lead of a news article. In the lead, writers try to include the who, what, where, when, and why information. After, students practiced interviewing one another about their winter vacations. She also showed how to follow the lead with supporting details in something called the inverted pyramid, which looks just like a vertical slice of cheese pizza. 4th Grade really enjoyed her visit, and then got hard to work on publishing their own newspaper.
The result is an inaugural issue that is not to be missed! Among some of the top headlines: Authors in Intermediate School, Kindergarten and 5th Grade share stage, and Differences between 4th Grade and 5th Grade. You can pick up your complimentary copy of the IS Gazette at your nearest newsstand, in the CDS lobby, or wherever books and magazines are sold. Or since print newspapers seem to be becoming a thing of the past, you can simply click here to read your free copy online!
Breaking news: Inspired 4th Grade writers publish a newspaper
From Hypothesis To Conclusion
By Mark Minkus, Head of Intermediate School and Middle School
Albert Einstein once said: “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination.” Well, our Middle School students are showing a tremendous amount of knowledge and imagination as they prepare for next week’s CDS Science Fair. I’ve been perusing the titles of the projects and I really can’t wait to see these in person: “The Reaction of Acidic Liquids on Sodium Bicarbonate,” ”Evaluating The Caloric Concentration Of Foods Using A Calorimeter,” “Designing a Multifunctional Travel Neck Pillow,” “Food Grade Chemical Spherification,” and my personal favorite, “Can Essential Oils Increase Focus?”
Each student will be interviewed by at least two judges and will be required to explain their hypothesis, independent variable, dependent variable, and conclusion. Our Middle Schoolers will be more confident next week when they present their projects, partly because of the high-quality projects that they will be presenting and because of the mock interviews that they did this week.
Each grade will have a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finisher, as well as an honorable mention. These students will then go on to the Pittsurgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair, held at Heinz Field on March 23. Our Science Fair winners will be looking to improve on the many ribbons CDS won at Regionals last year. Every year, Middle School science teacher Ms. Kyle Ison puts forth a monumental effort to make our Science Fair a huge success. From countless hours of helping students in and out of the classroom to arranging judges and creating rubrics, Ms. Ison is the motor that keeps our Science Fair running smoothly.
Good luck to all of our MS students next Thursday and at Regionals in March!
Be sure to stop by our Science Fair next Thursday evening or Friday morning
Teaching Responsible Citizens
By Chaim Steinberg, Middle School Social Studies
As teachers we spend a lot of time trying to think about the goal of education. Every week there seems to be a new list or article or opinion on what the classroom should look like, what skills should be taught, and what employers are looking for. We are all biased in some way towards our own subject. Language Arts is necessary to help us be strong communicators, Math teaches us problem-solving skills. Science gives us a window into how the world works. Hebrew and Spanish literally rewire our brains to make them better. All of these statements are true and education should be approached holistically, and as a school I think we do a great job trying to balance the many different types of learning. However, we all know that Social Studies is actually the most important, super-bestest, undeniably crucial subject in school.
Whenever prospective parents comes to CDS, Sarah DeWitt goes out of her way to make sure they have the chance talk to educators about the whats and whys of the school curriculum. When I talk to these parents, I always say is that whatever path we end up following in life, we will always be citizens. Social Studies is not just about memorizing dates and names and places on the map. Social Studies is about studying the society in which we live, and these days that’s more important than ever. As a society we are increasingly polarized; we don’t listen to each other and we have an all-or-nothing approach to politics, religion, class, you name it.
But not (hopefully) in Social Studies. I encourage my students to disagree (respectfully) with me and with their classmates. Any viewpoint is welcome, as long as a student can support it. If students disagree with me, great. If they can argue convincingly and respectfully, that’s the best. The goal is not to change minds. The goal is to create minds that can think for themselves, support their conclusions, and recognize that there is no zero-sum game. Everyone of us has a right to our opinions. History is useful because it lets us see how those disagreements have played out in the past, and I promise you, every single argument that comes up these days has come up before.
When students leave CDS, I hope that they remember a few dates..the signing of the Constitution, the Civil War, FF Bang Bang (ask your 8th graders), Pearl Harbor, the March on Washington, etc. because these dates help us to be literate about our society. More than anything, however, I hope that they remember how to have a discussion, how to agree and disagree, how to find those times in history that can teach us lessons for today. In other words, how to be a citizen.
In CDS Social Studies, students learn that civil, respectful discourse is vital to being a good citizen
Down The Stretch
By David Thyberg, Assistant Athletic Director
Winter basketball season rolls on at full speed for the Lions of CDS. All four teams have been running the court and hitting the boards hard for the last few months. As February approaches, our student athletes prepare to make a run down the stretch in their last handful of games.
Time flies in our sports programs. We have so much fun competing and sharing experiences with our teammates, sometimes it seems like the weeks blend together and the first tip-off turns into the final buzzer before we even realize where the season went. Thankfully, it’s not over yet! The boys and girls have plenty more home and away matchups over the next few weeks. And then, of course, comes the highlight of the sporting year: the annual Student vs. Faculty game!
Stay tuned for news and updates regarding the big game. See which teachers will feature in this year’s contest, and get started on your signs and posters to wave in the crowd section. Energetic students square off against the wily old faculty for an afternoon of fun and fanfare in early February. Who will you root for?
Follow all the Lions action on Twitter at @CDS_Sports
High School Bound
By Mark Minkus, Head of Intermediate School and Middle School
What is five-years-old, lives in the Annex, helps people leave CDS, and can calm down a frantic parent in less than 60 seconds? No, it isn’t a magical kindergartener or some kind of yoga class. It is our Destination High School Program! Led by Mr. Allan Dalfen, Destination High School has helped to guide parents and more than 100 CDS graduates to their high school of choice over the past five years.
Mr. Dalfen helps parents navigate the many outstanding options for their first day of freshman year. If you are thinking public school, you will learn about the CAS program at Allderdice and many other fine options like CAPA, SciTech, Obama, and City Charter High. If your family is curious about the private schools in the region, Mr. Dalfen has sat in on classes and developed relationships with the admissions directors at Shady Side Academy, The Kiski School, Winchester Thurston, Ellis, and The University School. During the 7th Grade year, Mr. Dalfen meets individually with each family to personalize your path to 9th Grade. If you have a question, Mr. Dalfen has the answer, or he will have it for you in under 24 hours.
With our Destination HS program, we try to take all of the guesswork and potential stress out of this process and equip your family with facts. One example is tonight’s High School Information Night. Mr. Dalfen explains the many services that we provide to help your family choose the right high school for your child. Additionally, Kashif Henderson, Pittsburgh Public Schools Gifted and Talented Education Coordinator, returns to CDS as our special guest to talk about the Center for Advanced Study (CAS) program, gifted identification in PPS, and the process of going from CDS to a PPS high school.
This wonderful, scary, amazing thing called high school is on the near horizon for our Middle School students, and at CDS, we stand ready to help our students with what’s next, wherever that road may lead.
Parents attended High School Information Night to prepare for their children’s next educational journey
GRANTED! Awards Announced
By Sarah DeWitt, Parent Association staff liaison
The CDS Parent Association GRANTED! program enhances the CDS educational experience by affording all teachers, students, and families the opportunity to apply for grants to fund projects that will enrich the school community. Our first GRANTED! cycle for the year ended on October 31. We received 10 applications and granted close to $7,500 for the following initiatives:
We look forward to seeing how these projects come to life and enrich our classrooms, campus, and students’ learning experiences. If you have a great idea to enrich a classroom, students’ education, the school grounds, an extracurricular activity, or anything else related to the CDS experience, the GRANTED! program is a great way to move that idea to a reality. The next GRANTED! cycle is ending soon.
Visit comday.org/granted and get your application in by February 28 to have your application reviewed before the end of the school year.
Mishloach Manot: Over The Rainbow
Alumni Profile: Erin (Asman) Herman
Get Business Tax Credits & Help CDS!
Every year, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh helps us get vital tuition assistance money through Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (EITC). We are partnering with the Jewish Federation to identify companies willing to participate in this program and we need your help.
For more information about how to benefit from the EITC program, visit comday.org/giving/eitc.
Kol Hakavod to …
Kol HaKavod to Jenny Jones on throwing one heck of a gala to celebrate and support CDS. Your vision, organization, tireless work, and attention to detail created a tropical night to remember that was very nearly perfect and tons of fun for more than 400 people … oh, and raised a ton of money in the process. You are magic, and we are so lucky to have you here at Community Day School!
Sayra was a huge part of the team at CDS. Her honestly, dedication, and work ethic has been incredible over the past few months and I am going to miss her.
She dropped everything to help me when a colleague was out. The significant amount of time she put in to help me made all the difference to my sanity. She is my hero!
Tekla put the time into sending a very sweet thank you e-mail for the effort I put into teaching her classes while she was away. She made me feel appreciated and acknowledged the effort I put into teaching. She made my day with her kind words and knowledge that she has my back as a teacher here at CDS.
Elke Cedarholm and Lissa Scearce
Kindness is important. Thanks for teaching our 3rd Grade to be ambassadors of the school, showing how important it is for us all to be nice to one another in school and in our community through their posters displayed on our walls.
Iton is the Hebrew word for newspaper. Since ours is electronic, we call it an E-ton!
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