Thursday, September 25, 2008

Girls Shine in Akeidah

The best of the Goldie Margolin High School for Girls was on display last night in the musical performance of Akeidah. Under the guidance of program director, Mrs. Oshrit Kolton, the girls pulled off a magical night of learning and inspiration. It began as women from across the community gathered to learn Jewish text sources relating to the story of the Akeidah, the binding of Isaac, in small groups led by one of the high school girls. All in attendance then turned their attention toward the stage where a breathtaking set and numerous props - created by the girls under the direction of their Fine Arts teacher, Mrs. Guyla Wanderman - enhanced skillful acting, carefully choreographed dancing, and beautiful choral singing to focus everyone on the upcoming yamim nora'im.

Yeyasher kochahen ve-tizku le-mitzvot.

MHA Student Wins Triathlon

7th grader Isaac Graber made us all proud by capturing first place in 4th Annual Kids Triathlon sponsored by Memphis Thunder Racing and held at the Compton Aquatic Center at St. George's High School. As a competitor in the senior division, Isaac had to complete a 200 yard swim, a 10 kilometer bike ride, and 2 kilometer run. Not only did he complete it, but he did so faster than anyone else in the 12 year old Male Division, with a combined time of 40 minutes and 31 seconds.

Way to go Isaac!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Classroom Clashes

Tuesday's Commercial Appeal ran an important article on handling clashes between teachers and parents. The sidebar provided the following list of dos and don'ts:

Don't: Discuss serious concerns over e-mail. And don't make your child a messenger service.

Do: Use a brief e-mail or phone call to schedule a school conference.

Don't: Use a conference to fire off accusations or to make threats about transferring or involving the principal.

Do: End a conference by summarizing the game plan, scheduling a followup and thanking the teacher.

Don't: Insult school staff in front of your children.

Do: Make sure that your children hear you compliment their school, teachers and principals.

Don't: Assume that a personality clash signals that the teacher is incompetent.

Do: Teach your children problem-solving techniques they can use at school.

Click here to read the story in its entirety.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

You Can Make the Difference

The Academy's operational campaign is now underway and you can make the difference. With the markets struggling and the economy precariously unstable, there are few safer investments than that of Jewish education. As this blog attests, the Academy today is alive with innovation, energy, and forward thinking designed to preserve the traditions of our past while ensuring the brightest of futures for our children and our community. To keep the momentum going, to bring our plans to fruition, and to translate our vision into reality, however, requires that we broaden our base of support to include the entire Memphis community as well as as all of those beyond Memphis who have a special place in their hearts for the Margolin Hebrew Academy. No matter how big or small, every contribution counts.

By investing through our secure online donation form you can help ensure that our school and our community continue to grow. Now, more than every, you can make the difference.

Voices from Sderot

Thanks to the Memphis Jewish Federation, our 7th through 12th graders had the opportunity to learn about the grim situation facing residents of Sderot straight from those who experience it everyday. The program began with this video (which was prefaced by the important note that the ideology expressed in the name of militant Islam is real and worthy of concern, although adhered to by only a minority of the world's Muslim population)

followed by short presentations by each of the Sderot residents who were finishing a national speaking tour. They spoke of the anxiety caused by the constant bombardment of some 30-40 rockets a day and the constant scramble to find shelter when the alarm sounds giving them 15 seconds to head for safety.

While the presentation sparked sympathy and empathy amongst our students, it also highlighted the resolve and determination of our brothers and sisters in Israel who lay down their lives on a daily basis to defend our land.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Morning Chulent

One of the new programs to hit the Cooper Yeshiva High School for Boys this year is the Friday morning tisch. Once a month, the boys gather together in the Beis Medrash with their rebbeim and the Torah MiTzion Kollel to sing, eat chulent, and listen to divre chizuk from Rabbi Spodek. This week we tried to capture a few snippets on video to give you a sense for the ruach that pervades our high schools.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Set Design & Other Fine Arts

The launch of our new High School Fine Arts program under the leadership of Mrs. Guyla Wanderman has brought a burst of excitement and an explosion of creativity to both the girls and boys divisions.

In preparation for their upcoming musical performance, Akeidah (Wednesday September 24, 7:30pm - all women are invited), one of the girls Fine Arts classes has been learning the ins and outs of set design. Each girl was given the task of designing a mock set out of cardboard that reflected the themes and the setting of the performance, thereby maximizing the set's role as "a silent character." One submission will be chosen and together the girls will work on transforming the model into the performance's actual set.

Not to be outdone, the boys have found their creative sides as well. As part of their study of Southern Blues music, they were asked to creat visual represenations of the art which they were hearing. The products were most impressive.

Our younger students, under the direction of Mrs. Chany Fleischhacker, were hard at work cultivating their artistic talents as well. These first grade renditions Van Gogh like "Swirly Landscapes" are truly eye-opening.

Stop by our Art Room any time, any day of the week, and you are sure to find more gems like these in the midst of creation.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Dean's Writing Award

In an effort to promote high quality writing across all disciplines, we have launched a new program called the Dean's Writing Award. Each month two pieces of outstanding student writing, one on a Judaic theme and one on a non-Judaic theme, will be chosen to receive this award. Winning submissions will be posted on the blog for all to see.

For more details on the program click on the flyer. Check back in the first week of October to see the work of the September winners!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Digital Learning

The presence of the Academy in cyberspace has expanded again. Tapping into what is now known in educational circles as digital learning, and what is widely regarded as essential for effective 21st century education, our high school English teachers have created their own websites as a means of enhancing and furthering instruction in their classrooms.

Mrs. Abby Johnson is using her blog as a vehicle for her AP students to do informal "reaction writing" to their course reading. Click on the "comments" link on each post to see our students in action. One of this year's exciting new additions to our faculty, Mrs. Ashly Hood, is also jumping headfirst into the world of cyberlearning. While still in their most formative phases, Mrs. Hood has created both a wikispace and a blog which she intends to use as instructional and organizational tools for her classes.

I too have a wikispace for the seminar I am giving in the Boys High School on the European Enlightenment (in fact, I also have one for the purpose of faculty collaboration and another one for use by our administration). While pretty bare right now, this one will be populated throughout the year by student created PowerPoint presentations on major figures in Enlightenment thought, such as Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and many others.

This YouTube clip - which we showed to our faculty at our opening In-Service this year - makes the case rather well for the importance of digital learning. While we have much still to do in this area, it's good to know that we've begun to plug in to the world of technologically progressive education.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Both faculty and students from all divisions of the Academy were well represented at Sunday's ASBEE Kosher BBQ Contest. From the courts of the 3 on 3 tournaments to the booths and the judges, it was hard not to notice the presence of the Academy at this annual regional event.

A special thanks goes to Mrs. Guyla Wanderman who lead the way in creating our booth and to Mrs. Gersten who conceived of the idea and organized its implementation. We are grateful as well to Elie and Rafie Freiden who did the cooking for us. It was much appreciated.

Besides our own school booth, our Torah Mitzion Kollel was present with their Kooky booth and musical cast of Rabbi and Mrs. Goldberg, Rabbi and Mrs. Kolton, the Kollel guys, and our Bat Ami girls. For information on upcoming Torah Mitzion Programs, email Rabbi Goldberg at .

We also took great pride in (and great brisket from) the first time presence of an NCSY booth manned by our own Rabbi Marc and Mrs. Emily Lennon. In addition to teaching in the middle and high schools, Rabbi Lennon is the new Memphis Director of NCSY. Under his leadership Memphis NCSY has now joined the Midwest Region and is gearing up for a fun-filled and exciting year. To find out more email them at .

Yasher Kochachem to all!

Ushering In Elul

The Lower School welcomed Elul this past week with an innovative program run by Moreh Shimshon. All students in Grades 1 through 6 were divided into teams and had to collaborate on two separate tasks: to fill their respective shofarot with tefillot for the new year, and to create some sort of group presentation on a particular Elul related theme which they had been assigned.

It was a pleasure to watch students of all different ages working together, thinking together, and laughing together in a relaxing and fun, yet highly educational setting. It was even more amazing to see the presentations they came up with just a short burst of creative brainstorming.

For more pictures of the Rosh Chodesh Elul Assembly see the slide show above.