By Shana Gondelman
Rashi Parent of a Second-Grader and Kindergartner
Stories are real. Slogans are made up. Slogans pull you in and try to push out a message. They are shallow and impersonal. Stories are passed on by word of mouth. Slogans are forced on us by ads. Stories are deep and personal and a part of who we are. After all, you don’t tell slogans about your grandfather, or how your parents met or even how you were treated in a restaurant.
When my oldest daughter was in her Pre-K year, my husband and I started looking at private schools. Originally, we were looking at a few of the local private, secular schools, but on the advice of my daughter’s preschool teacher (who, I would like to mention had NO affiliation with Rashi), we came to look at this school. Rashi was the second school we visited and toured. As we were leaving, my husband turned to me and said, “After seeing Rashi, I wouldn’t even consider sending Sydney to that first school.” My husband is a tough critic and for him to feel that strongly after a tour marked the beginning of our years at Rashi.
As our second daughter became of age and we had to fill out the sibling application, I looked at the application a little differently. One of the questions asked why we wanted to send our daughter to Rashi and my answer was so simple: Because the kids here hold open the doors. Now, that may sound like a strange answer to a very important question, but the truth is, if I’m going to give up my kids for 8 hours a day, it is so comforting to know that they are being raised with morals and values. Not just being told to say please and thank you, but being shown through example what it means to be a positive person in our world…and that starts with the small sentiments like a big kid opening the door for a “frazzled” looking mom with two small kids who don’t seem able to carry their back packs that morning…or afternoon. It amazes me that every time I wonder how that door is going to open without me having a free hand, there is always a student there to help me. I don’t want to say that I send my kids to be good door openers, but if at 8 years old, they are polite, kind and thoughtful enough to open a door for me, I can only imagine what type of person they will become in the years to come.
In fact, just the other day, my younger daughter came home from school and told me that her words have power. Alyssa explained to me that once she said something, it could never be unsaid. I, playing the naive parent, asked her what she meant. She proceeded to tell me about a book, “the power of words” that the ‘peace teacher’ Stephanie Rotsky, read to the kindergarten class. She told me, “If I say I hate you, even if I apologize and tell you I didn’t mean it, it will always exist.” That’s a lesson I’m still learning, and I’m much older than a kindergarten student!
One of the other major facets of this school that make it special and unique is the opportunity for multigenerational learning. When my oldest daughter was in kindergarten, they had a volunteer from NewBridge to help out in library. Her name was Edna, and I don’t know what kind of spell she cast on these kids, but all of Sydney’s friends Loved Edna. Sydney did not stop asking me to call Edna until I final got her phone number, called her and set up a ‘play date’ with her. We met Edna for frozen yogurt and my daughter was in heaven. Edna was able to be for Sydney all the things I couldn’t ALWAYS be: patient, calm, a listening ear…the perfect compliment to a little girl with a lot to say. Needless to say, when Sydney told her friends that she had a date with Edna, they were all very jealous!!!
I remember my admissions information session four years ago and wondering if they paid the parents to paint the school in such a good light, but I have learned first had that there was no payment involved; the stories are real and genuine.
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