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DR. B’s BLOG

CELEBRATING EXCELLENCE: MOVING OUR SCHOOL FORWARD

November 27, 2018
By Dr. Chaim Botwinick

The Hebrew Academy's  recent Annual Fundraising Matching Campaign entitled "Celebrating Excellence" was a smashing success. Not only did we reach our goal of $250,000, but with a record 91% parent participation rate, we exceeded it by an amazing $20,000. - - no small accomplishment in today's competitive philanthropic environment.

Upon reflection, one can attribute this success to a wide variety of factors. But, I would like to believe that this success is due in large measure to our school's  growing donor base who are truly inspired by the Hebrew Academy's tremendous academic growth, development and unswerving commitment to academic excellence in both Judaic and General Studies.

This reality is exemplified by our school's ongoing commitment to science through our relatively new STEM program, (now in its second year); our new school-wide advanced math track ;  "Project English Literacy" designed to ensure that each grade level is reinforcing high quality standards of writing, reading and punctuation; a new and expanded Chesed and  Middos program; increased services to students with diverse learning needs and styles; professional growth and development opportunities for our faculty; state-of the-art Gemara instruction via our Gemara Brura program; Chidon student competitions, our annual BrachosBee; our ongoing commitment to "MAP" - a standardized student performance assessment which is administered three time a year; and an amazing cutting-edge Early Childhood Education program which continuously applies best practices and principles to child development,

All of these academic activities are complimented by our exciting physical education program, creative arts classes, amazing reading labs, a nutritious breakfast program;  a vibrant Computer Lab; and a nurturing, empathetic and professional cadre of faculty who are passionately committed to the continued  emotional, social and academic growth, development and welfare of each and every student on our campus. Finally, the attendance at our recent Parent/Teacher conferences and "Curriculum Night" were at an all time high; and the parental feedback has been extremely positive.

My friends, there is something in the air this year which is creating a very positive vibe at the Hebrew Academy. Parents are engaged, teachers are exhibiting exemplary teaching;  students are happy, are  learning and are being challenged to reach their full potential....and its only November!. Wow, can you just imagine how things will look in June, Iy"H.

As we know, the success of our school does not take place in a vacuum. Its the result a continuous commitment to excellence and to an exciting, vibrant shared- vision.

Let us hope and pray that as great as the school is today, with HaShem's oversight, we will grow to greater heights in the years to come.

Thank you for helping us Celebrate Educational Excellent. We are only beginning to embark upon this meaningful and exciting Journey.

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"GREAT HAPPENS HERE"

August 27, 2018
By Dr. Chaim Botwinick

Dear Friends, 

 I hope and trust that you and your family had a healthful and restful summer. We, on the other hand, were miserably missing your children. So to get over the blues, we cleaned the campus, prepared classrooms, ordered books, updated curricular materials; tweaked schedules, met with teachers and parents (who asked) and ensured that everything be in place for an exciting, inspiring and successful new school year.

 During this time, my personal highlight was meeting with students who successfully completed their summer assignments. As each child filed into my office, the expressions of pride were palpable. It was a profoundly important reminder that our mandate as educators is not only to teach, but to ensure that every child - regardless of age, learning style or disposition - experiences a sense of personal accomplishment, self-esteem, pride, recognition and success.

 A school curriculum is first and foremost the foundation upon which to build educational excellence; in our case “the HASC Way”.  But to achieve true excellence we must inspire our students to achieve "greatness" through perseverance, motivation, continuous feedback and reinforcement. 

 We sincerely look forward to providing our students with the best any school can offer. HACS is blessed to have a cadre of outstanding faculty who are passionately committed to this philosophy. From the wonderment of STEM to the profundity of Language Arts, from the application of Math to the expansiveness of Social Studies, Art plus History, and combined with our unbeatable Judaic curriculum, we will continue to provide an enriched opportunity to expand knowledge, creativity and critical thinking skills. It’s going to be a great New School Year.

 This year's Dr. B's BLOG will focus on our School's curricular accomplishments against a backdrop of trends in education on the national and global levels

 With warm wishes for a New School Year of Excellent Health, Growth, Fulfillment and Accomplishment!

A YEAR OF CELEBRATED EXCELLENCE ... FINISHING STRONG!

June 05, 2018
By Dr. Chaim Botwinick

It seems like yesterday that we just started our school year - as they say ..."time flies when you are experiencing excellence!"

 We began this school year with tremendous excitement, anticipation, a shared educational vision and an energy level which was positively contagious and palpable.  As the "new kid on the block" (not such a kid) aka General Studies Principal, I took our school’s pulse while simultaneously helped to create and foster a school culture, environment and trajectory conducive to high level teaching/instruction. In a word ... to continue HACS’ journey to educational excellence.

 I now proudly look into the school's rear mirror and see an amazing mosaic of this year’s accomplishments. To name a few:

 ·  Innovative STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program for Middle School;

·  Advanced Math Instruction for Middle School;

·  Specialized group and individualized student counseling programs;

·  Structured Sports and Physical Education Program;

·  Field trips to Museums, Nature and Science Centers and other places of interest which beautifully compliment classroom learning;

·  Differentiated Instruction Coaching for school faculty;

·  Established a Department of Student Exceptionalities which leverage and provide services to our diverse students;

·  Language Arts Program focused intensively on reading and writing literacy;

·  Digital Citizenship Initiative which informs students, teachers and parents regarding best practices in social media use;

·  Teacher assessment program which assesses teacher performance and classroom effectiveness;

·  "MAP" Testing Protocol which measures academic growth and performance three times a year in Math and Language Arts;

·  Teacher Professional Growth and Development Plan for 2018-19 implementation;

·  Student discipline protocol which holds students and parents more accountable for student behavior;

·  Specialized training for Computer coding and gaming;

·  Science Exploration Projects in Elementary School; 

·  Creative Writing Lab for Middle School which produced our beautiful Literary Magazine; and

·  Developed new Homework Policy Guidelines, based upon comprehensive research, analysis and deliberation. 

These school initiatives represent but a small array of exciting initiatives at HACS. They are the direct result of a phenomenal faculty; highly skilled in their academic disciplines, passionately committed to cognitive, emotional and social development, our administration’s leadership who continuously promote and encourage educational excellence; and most important, the school-parent partnership - an essential ingredient for effective 21st century day school education.

 We must celebrate these outstanding school accomplishments even as we plan for the coming school year. I am passionately committed and inspired to redouble our efforts and with HaShem's help we will climb to great heights.  It is in this spirit that I wish all of our students, families, and staff an invigorating summer of continued learning and rejuvenation.

 We are finishing strong! But that is only our springboard for next year!

 Dr. B.

NOW THAT THE REPORTERS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS HAVE GONE

February 22, 2018
By Dr. Chaim Botwinick

Last week's horrific shootings at the Stoneman Douglas High School, (only a few short miles from HACS) has shaken the very core of our community's foundation; and, has now become what the media is unfortunately and sadly labeling as "society's new normal". 

 There are those who respond to this tragic event by meeting with politicians and participating in well-orchestrated and strategically posted photo-opts (not to minimize their intentions or efforts); there are others who engage in writing and talking thereby fueling the blame-game fire; there are those who are reaching out to families of dear lost ones, the injured and first responders  with love, unswerving support and hugs; and, yet there are others who are crying out to the heavens and beyond for immediate measures to be taken on the local, state and federal levels in order to increase school security, greater mental health awareness and the elimination of assault firearms -- all in the spirit of  sincere heartfelt efforts to minimize if not prevent the G-D forbid possibility of these horrendous atrocities from ever happening again.  

 All of these natural well intended activities and responses are expected and must be supported, But, happening at the same time is a challenge and an imperative which challenges our educational leadership, in ways never before imaginable.

 As a senior educator and as a proud General Studies Principal of HACS, I am profoundly concerned about the daunting impact these events have on the current and future psychological/emotional well-being of our precious children.

 As parents, it’s just not enough to say that we must protect and shield our children from the gruesome details of these events, when the very details of these events are within earshot of our children. How about the three parents who were talking to one another (during our school's carpool dismissal) about the details of the shooting in front of 4 of their 5-year-old children? What about the parent who insists on playing the radio during carpool, only to once again disregard what our children are hearing? What about the parents (you know who you are) who talk about these events and their gruesome details in the presence of their children at the Shabbos table, in Shul, or at the playground? 

 My dear friends, the impact of these events on our children are profound! Many of our children, especially the younger ones, are confused, perplexed, frightened and crying out for answers. As responsible mature adults and parents, we must be extremely vigilant and careful to have age-appropriate responses and conversations with our children; we must protect them from the harsh, brash and graphic words, descriptions and images of last week's horrendous surrealist carnage.  We must enable our little ones to feel safe, secure, loved and protected. We should never take for granted that a child's feeling or sense of security is happening by itself naturally --- because it isn't ....and it won't. 

 We must reject the phrase that we are "living in a new normal"! We need to change that phrase and bring back the "old normal" embedded in Jewish values, principles, and ways of life.

 If we are a light unto the nations and indeed a holy nation, the conversation begins at home, with our own children.

 So, next time we hug our children, tuck them into bed at night, or hug them first thing in the morning......lets remember that our children are the greatest most profoundly cherished gift Hashem can ever give us; and that we must redouble our efforts to monitor our speech, expressions, and sentiments in their presence.

 May HaShem bless all of our children with excellent health, mazal, simcha and hatzlacha; and may our children and their families never ever experience the events of last week. 

 And, may HaShem bless the families of those who perished last week with true comfort, love, strength and resolve.

 Our hearts are truly broken.

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