Importance of Professional Development
Dear CJDS Community,
I am very proud to be leading a school where professional development is a priority, and where so many faculty, staff and lay leadership participate with such enthusiasm.
Our learning opportunities began on Tuesday when we held our own in-service day. CJDS faculty and staff immersed themselves in learning about gender diversity, a topic that has emerged over the years with new information, terms, and understandings that all educators need to embrace.
Gender diversity challenges us to think about inclusion in school in new ways. Our presenters were Rabbi D’ror Chankin-Gould (Anshe Emet Synagogue), who provided us with Jewish texts and opened a Jewish lens for us to approach our learning, and Sarah Casper from the Response Center who presented some of the latest research and practices.
After our session, many members of the faculty and staff suggested we bring back Rabbi D’ror and Sarah to talk to our parents and extended community. The second part of our day on Tuesday was spent doing ISACS writing committee work, as we reflect on every aspect of our school program, in preparation for our ISACS re-accreditation site visit which will take place next year.
On Thursday and Friday, the Annual ISACS Conference was held this year in Chicago. ISACS (Independent School Association of the Central States), hosting 230 exemplary schools, is the educational umbrella organization which accredits independent schools who stand in the circle of best practices in our region. It is a two-day conference designed for educators and lay leaders, attended by delegates from all over the Midwest. Thursday provided a dual track, one for the educators and a Trustees Day which hosted day long sessions for the Board Chairs and Head of Schools. Over the course of two days, CJDS was represented by the following faculty, staff, administration: Anat Geva, Judy Finkelstein-Taff, Jill Kushnir LeVee, Abbe Vallen, Tamar Cytryn, Rachel Pickus, Deborah Barack, Claudia Edwards, Lindsay Teeples-Mitchell, and Jill Schwartz.
Thank you to Jill Kushnir LeVee and Abbe Vallen for organizing our teacher in-service day on Tuesday, as well as the participation of our CJDS community in this important conference.
Lastly, our Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten teachers are involved in a two-year educational process learning the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education. All of our Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten teachers have given extra hours after school working with a Reggio consultant and learning all about this child-centered educational practice. This coming week, CJDS is sending faculty delegates, Susie Lorge, Dana Solomon and Jill Kushnir LeVee to Atlanta, Georgia for a national conference which includes onsite visits to schools who are implementing the principles and practices of Reggio Emilia in their schools. Please read the excerpt below taken from the Reggio website to see for yourself why the Reggio philosophy and cutting-edge ideas speak to us at CJDS:
“The Reggio Emilia Approach is an innovative and inspiring approach to early childhood education which values the child as strong, capable and
resilient; rich with wonder and knowledge. Every child brings with them deep curiosity and potential and this innate curiosity drives their interest to understand their world and their place within it.”
The conference in Atlanta is partially made possible by our own CJFE and its Director of Early Childhood Services, Anna Hartman. We thank Anna, JUF, and the CFJE for helping to make these opportunities possible. We look forward to the day when our faculty goes to Italy to study this approach from the master creators.
Yasher Koach to our CJDS faculty and staff who model and embrace lifelong learning for themselves and for our students!
Ms. J (Judy)