Today was the first day of staff orientation at Kesher Newton and we spent most of the day throwing out trash, putting in new rugs, and getting the classrooms ready for the open house coming up on Wednesday. In a very organic, earthy, Labor Zionist kind of way, it was the perfect start to our week of orientation, helping us to get our hands and minds ready for the work that lies ahead of us.
Kesher is a special school for many reasons, all of which are equally important- phenomenal staff, joyful learning, and a diverse group of families all contribute to the uniqueness and success of the school. But don’t take my word for it. A cursory glance through recent scholarly literature about Jewish Education will tell you the same thing- that Kesher is innovative, inspiring, challenging, and successful in an age when supplementary Jewish Education is generally viewed as being of poor quality. (Just look here, here, or here for some that research.) In today’s economic climate, for us to grow 20% over the last two years and to be continually adding grades and teaching positions is the best indicator of our success.
Kesher Newton has thrived because we have developed a vision of child-centered, constructivist education and taken the time to find, develop, and keep talented teachers on staff who share in that vision. As we began our journey together today in Newton Centre, it was uplifting to experience the energy and enthusiasm that was resonating through the hallways.
A famous work on school excellence, the McKinsey Report (2007), included a line that I reference continuously when speaking about Kesher: “The quality of an educational system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers.” Knowing who is teaching at Kesher Newton this year makes me believe that our students couldn’t be in better hands. Just this year on our staff on nine teachers we have an internationally-acclaimed cellist, a former opera singer, a leader of Chocolate Boston Walking tours, and a curriculum writer for BabaGanewz. There are six certified teachers, and nine master’s degrees amongst the staff, who have have amassed thousands of hours of classroom teaching experience and hundreds of credit hours in Education classes. Our staff has traveled the world as scholars, performers, and volunteers (including two Otzma alumni and one WUJS aluma), and speak fluent English, Hebrew, Spanish, French, and Yiddish. It is a remarkable group.
Interested in coming to visit to see Kesher Newton in action? Curious about how we teach and what Kesher feels like? Still looking for a school community for your children? Give me a call; I’m happy to share with you all of the great things that our teachers do every day.