Rashi’s leadership had been planning for remote learning in the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic for several weeks, and was able to swiftly pivot from the spectacular program in its brick-and-mortar building to a digital equivalent.
While classrooms and whiteboards may have changed to laptops and living rooms, some parts of Rashi will never change. We continue to maintain a learning community that models our shared core values and ensures that everyone feels connected and cared for.
Rashi Online has reflected our school value of kehillah, community. We have created spaces for students and teachers to connect with one another, building on the strong connections built over the school year. Lower school students sang their familiar songs and morning greetings during daily morning meetings. Middle schoolers checked in with one another and their faculty teacher in advisory daily. One advisory uses special advisory balls. They were virtually thrown, just as they would typically do if we were at school. Each student also got a chance to share what they were feeling as they began to delve into understanding the nuts and bolts of the day.
Parents and students alike have felt the glow of reconnecting with one another and continuing the Rashi academic experience. One parent shared, “Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you! We do not have the words to express our immense gratitude to all of you for what you have done for our children. To hear their teachers’ voices in our homes at 8:30 this morning brought tears to my eyes…It was amazing to see their excitement and engagement with their learning.” Another said, “Teachers, staff and administration rocked the day! Brought certainty to a very uncertain period of time. Thank you!”
Rashi faculty and staff are skilled educators and brought creativity and flexibility to digital learning this week. From one-on-one sessions with teachers, to compelling writing prompts, to filling out weather grids virtually, students continued the rigorous and enriching education content from school. Math, social studies, science and more were all taught this week. A Grade 7 Language Arts meetup discussed their take-home essay on “The Crucible” with their teacher this week. Grade 3 investigated a climate map together. Hebrew and Spanish instruction are provided remotely, which continued to engage the students.
The thoughtfulness of our community extended beyond core instruction to art, athletics and specialists. Rashi’s art teacher, Mrs. Smiley, has created lessons for students they can do from home, from a found object color wheel to drawing 3D hands. And our athletic director, Josh Horowicz, sent rainy-day fitness ideas, created a school-wide (and faculty/staff) fitness challenge and is continuing to help us keep active. Specialists including our school psychologist Darcey Angelo have shared resources and opened virtual office hours to connect with parents and students, provide guidance and support and give insight that their unique vantage point provides.
Social justice is integral to Rashi. From learning about immigration, to racism, to advocating for the planet, justice is embedded into the fabric of our school. Rashi Online continues this value and practice. After giving tzedekah, Grade 1 brainstormed ideas about how tzedekah funds can be used in challenging times to help those in need. Yachad connected Rashi families this week with the school produce purveyor JW Lopes, asking the community to support the family-owned business in a time of need. Families reached out in support, providing a source of income in the midst of turbulent times.
Our students displayed kavod (respect) by the ways they were flexible and adjusted to very difficult changes in circumstances over the past several weeks. They brought energy, enthusiasm, curiosity and some tech assistance with them each day as a part of Rashi Online. Our faculty and staff were collaborative and innovative, working to create a learning environment for each Rashi student that met their needs. We feel lucky to have each of them.
The Middle School Rashi Student Government leaders were hard at work as Rashi Online launched, collaborating with their faculty advisor Joni Fishman to compose an email to offer support and hope to their middle school peers. Following their collaboration, an email was sent to their middle school peers, bringing them together and reminding them that they can do it!
Ruach Elohim (Spirit)
The first week was one of trial, error, learning and growth. And abundant joy and spirit. The students, faculty and families continue to work together to nurture students’ critical minds and compassionate hearts.
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