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DR. B’s BLOG

"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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Getting Smart with Your Smartphones - Part One

February 08, 2018
By Dr. Chaim Botwinick

 Part One:

 Over the past several years, there has been significant discussion and debate regarding the impact of cellphone/smartphone technology and social media on our children and their families.

 In full recognition of this daunting challenge, we at the HEBREW ACADEMY COMMUNITY SCHOOL are now implementing our new Digital Citizenship Curriculum, created and developed by Dr. Eli Shapiro and Mrs. Temima Feldman. But, we need you, the parent, to be our partners.

 As technology and its impact on the social, psychological and behavioral functioning of our youngsters grows, continued education for both students and parent in digital citizenship is critical.

 Never before in the history of modern technology (except perhaps television) has technology impacted us to the extent it is today. Instant communication, millisecond response rates, and freedom of "information flow" have truly revolutionized the manner in which we think, react and communicate. But, it has also unintentionally robbed us from quality precious time and attention to our children and family.

 As parents, how often do we "disconnect" our own smartphones; while we are supposedly helping our children with homework, during dinner, play time, on vacation, or even on the way to minyan (while driving, no less), or even during davening itself?

 Our children are very smart and truly perceptive. By refusing to disconnect our cellphones during these teachable quality moments, we as parents are in fact informing our children that they are less of a priority than answering the phone, making a call, texting a business associate or checking emails. It consciously and subconsciously creates a value system. Hence, we are creating a future generation who will be disconnected from the beauty and wonderment of quality time as well as familial interaction. Beware, there is no turning back the clock

 Maybe we have not yet paid the full price for this trade off, but, it’s almost guaranteed that a price is being paid! A moment lost with a child, at the expense of checking an email, is a price not worth taking.

 So, parents, please put down your cell phones. Look up at the precious innocent angelic faces of your children who are begging for your complete attention.  It’s a trade-off worth a lifetime.

 See you at my next BLOG (Part Two)

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