Believing in Jewish day schools makes one an optimist. No matter the changing tides or trends, day schools and yeshivas remain our greatest investment for a vibrant Jewish future. The dramatic turnaround that many schools experienced in recent years, as more parents sought out and stuck with day school education, highlights the intrinsic value of our schools and their essential role in the lives of families and communities.
Jewish day schools are well positioned for further success: Enrollment across the field is up—and the vast majority of families that joined because of Covid have stayed; our schools excelled during Covid—strengths that neither were created by the pandemic nor will disappear as it passes; the perceived value of day schools is increasing; and we are seeing more new, significant investments in our schools by philanthropists than we saw in recent times. Being an optimist and witnessing the new trajectory for our schools gives me, and Prizmah, the opportunity to set a course for ongoing and increasing impact, partnering with schools, communities and philanthropists.
What will our schools need in order to maintain the positive enrollment trends and to ensure that those who have not experienced that growth also benefit? What can our fieldwide perspective provide to support and sustain growth? We believe strongly that this is a decisive moment for day schools, and we are driven to carry out an agenda that positions the field for long-term stability.
Affordability, the theme of this issue of HaYidion, is a critical factor for day schools and yeshivas. With current data showing stable enrollment alongside forecasts for economic uncertainty, now is the time to ensure that all families are able to continue to choose our schools. As we compile and review diverse tuition models, we also must analyze and evaluate what is working and how.
We also need to tend carefully all the elements that have contributed to current enrollment growth: strong community relationships, positive perceptions about our schools, and professionalized recruitment and retention operations. Prizmah’s work in this area will deepen in the coming months.
The day school value proposition has never drawn more attention than in these years of growth. We know that for families to continue choosing day school for their children and for funders to continue supporting our institutions, they have to believe that the sacrifice and investment are well placed and “worth it.” We are continuing to tell that story, most recently through the voices of dozens of alumni.
Finally, we know that the heart of what makes our schools work is the classroom, and we must infuse our schools with a steady stream of talented educators who foster the day-in, day-out wonder of learning support them through their careers. Educational excellence makes or breaks a school, and the achievements of our existing talent pool are largely responsible for bringing us to this new era. We need to discover and design strategies to retain and recruit teachers who can fulfill their sacred calling with all that they need to be successful.
At Prizmah, thanks to the support of investors and optimists across North America, we are positioned to partner with all who share our sense that the best is yet to come for day schools and yeshivas. As we harness the momentum of recent growth, we aspire to develop and promote resources to sustain that positive trajectory for years to come.