Sunday, May 18, 2008

MHA Meets YouTube

Thanks to Matt, our Director of Technology, the video sensation created by three of our CYHSB students for the recent community fair sponsored by YU's Center for the Jewish Future is now available on YouTube. Entitled "The Top Twelve Reasons to Move to Memphis," the goal was to give prospective young families a little - rather genuine - taste of that which makes the Memphis Orthodox Community so special. You can access part one of the video by clicking here. Please help us continue building the buzz about our community by passing the link on to anyone and everyone you think might be interested.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Linda Hooper of “Paper Clips” Fame to Speak at MHA / FYOS Banquet

We are proud to announce that Linda Hooper will be our featured speaker at the upcoming Annual Banquet honoring Rabbi and Mrs. Benjamin Wolmark as well as the memory of Mrs. Rose Margolin. Mrs. Hooper is the Principal at the Public Middle School in Whitwell, Tennessee where she was the inspirational force behind the Paper Clips Project, whose story gained worldwide acclaim when it was captured in the Emmy Award Nominated documentary, Paper Clips in 2004. This will be the first time Mrs. Hooper will be speaking in Memphis and we're honored to have her.

The banquet takes place on Monda
y, May 26th, 2008 at the Baron Hirsch Synagogue with hors d’oevres at 5:30pm. Reservations are required and may be made by calling the school office at 682-2400 or by emailing

Join us for what promises to be an evening of education, inspiration, and enjoyment for all.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Exceeding Expectations

I am rather confident that none of those who assembled to watch the red-wigged, face painted clown play "It's the Rabbi's Birthday" on her yellow kazoo while decking me out in the latest of birthday hat fashions - an assembly which included our entire office staff, my wife, my assistant, our board president, and Rabbi Ronald Schwartzberg, Director of Jewish Career Guidance and Placement at Yeshiva University's Center for the Jewish Future - believed that I would actually post pictures of the Josh Kahane sponsored spectacle on my blog. Well, here at the Academy we're all about exceeding expectations and doing that which few imagined possible...

Reaccreditation and High Commendations

A year long intensive process of reflection, collaboration, and evaluation spearheaded by Mrs. Sandy Gersten culminated yesterday not only in a recommendation by our Quality Assurance Review Team that we be reaccredited by the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (SACS), but with highest of praise from the four person team who spent the last forty-eight hours roaming our halls, visiting our classrooms, speaking with our students, faculty, parents, and board members, and sifting through stacks upon stacks of instructional, curricular, administrative, and governance documents in an effort to assess the quality of our educational program.

In their report to our stakeholders before departing yesterday afternoon, they lauded us with the following five commendations:
  1. The school under its current administration is dedicated to the families and community and to meeting the needs of its students.
  2. Teachers integrate higher-order thinking skills daily in their lessons.
  3. The students are respectful and an atmosphere of respect prevails throughout the school.
  4. Parents and stakeholders display a strong sense of support for the school.
  5. The SOIN system provides a comprehensive online student management system and effective communication with parents and students.
Every QAR team is required by SACS to provide recommendations for improvement as well. Perhaps most encouraging about the team's report was the fact that the four recommendations they made were all items that we had already identified and which we have already begun to address. They were:
  1. Maintain efforts to fully integrate the present vision into all facets of school life.
  2. Identify and implement a full scope and sequence to vertically align the curricula in all subject areas.
  3. Use needs assessments to create a structured professional development plan.
  4. Reorganize the present governance entity into a smaller Board of Trustees and institute an active parent / teacher advisory board.
As important as it is to focus on our weaknesses and to constantly commit ourselves to improvement, it is equally important for us to celebrate our successes - and this is a success worth celebrating. On behalf of the extended school community I once again thank Mrs. Gersten for her tireless efforts in this and in so many other endeavors. I thank Mrs. Carol Straughn for her meticulous collection and organization of our materials; the committee heads for their leadership and high quality work; as well as all of the faculty members, board members, and community members who helped make this process the success that it was.

Let this be a springboard for us to many more successes and even greater heights in the months and years to come.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Yom Ha-Atzma'ut

From passports and rice cakes to banners and rain drops, it was quite a day and quite a celebration...

Monday, May 5, 2008

Blog Updates

Have a look at the two newest elements of my blog: the survey and the list of job contacts.

The survey I'll use to gather some informal data on issues relating to education, Jewish education, Memphis, and just about anything else that's on my mind.

The job contact list can be found under the MHA / FYOS Links section, and is something we put together to assist those families looking at our community to network with professionals in their respective fields. Please share the link with anyone and everyone to whom it may be of help.

A Time to Share

For a decade or more, our high school boys have been on the receiving end of programs in Holocaust education. In History class, in Jewish History class, each and every Yom Ha-Sho'ah, and undoubtedly at a variety of other times throughout the year, they hear stories and accounts of what it was like to be a Jew in Europe during World War II. And so it should be. There is much to learn and, as we all know, the downloading process from those who witnessed the events is a race against the clock.

But, we decided that for our boys high school this year we wanted to do something a little different. Instead of receiving, we wanted them to experience the act of giving. Instead of continuing to transmit the history and lessons of our people only within the context of our own community, we wanted them to feel the importance and the power of sharing the messages of Yom Ha-Sho'ah with the larger community within which we live. So, under the leadership of Mrs. Kutliroff, our boys spent their Yom Ha-Shoah in the classrooms of White Station Middle School, running Holocaust workshops with small groups of students, culminating with a presentation by descendants of survivors who shared their own family history with their new "students" and friends.

The reviews from both the givers and the receivers suggest that this may well have been a program which neither side will ever forget.

Jewish Week Features MHA Program

Gary Rosenblatt, the Editor in Chief of the New York Jewish Week, dedicated his Yom Ha-Shoah editorial to a description of an innovative new program in Holocaust education called Names, Not Numbers. It's a program in which a professional filmmaker and a professional journalist team up with professional educators to teach high school students how to take an oral history and how to transform it into a video documentary. Equipped with those skills, two students are then paired with a local Holocaust Survivor or WWII veteran and set out to make a documentary based on their life story. The program has been run, to date, in four schools across the country to wide acclaim and with great success.

We are proud to announce that due to a generous grant from the Bornblum Foundation, the program will be coming to our high schools next year. Stay tuned for more...