HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal



"Excellence" is a goal to which many, if not all, day schools subscribe. This issue provides perspectives on this elusive term, offering diverse notions of what day school excellence means and looks like, and suggesting pathways and structures for schools to achieve excellence. Each school must define what excellence means for its community and how excellence relates to the other values in the school's mission.

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Taking Control: Defining Academic Excellence

by Barbara Gereboff Jun 01, 2015
RELATED TOPICS: Mission & VisionLeadership

When I began my work at my school, I was charged with assuring academic excellence. My first reaction was, “Sure, that’s what I’m all about.” My next thought was, “What exactly is academic excellence? Is it about ‘best practices,’ or is it code for grades and test scores?” Is my definition the same as that of the teachers, the staff and the families who make up my school? The term “academic excellence” is ubiquitous, yet it is used in so many different ways that it can be meaningless. It can also be dangerous if used to evaluate a school or an educator when the meaning is confused.

Dear Cooki: Recognizing Teacher Excellence

by Cooki Levy Jun 01, 2015
RELATED TOPICS: LeadershipTeachers

In my school, as I am sure is the case in many (all?) others, a small number of teachers stand out from the group as a whole. They are not only outstanding in the classroom, but they are committed totally to the well-being of their students and to the mission of the school. They put in more time, energy and effort than the others; they are truly excellent staff members. But rarely do they receive the recognition they deserve. How can they be acknowledged in a tangible way for their excellence without compromising staff cohesion or morale?

From the Board: Excellent Leadership as Co-leadership

by Rebekah Farber Jun 01, 2015

RAVSAK is an organization driven by a commitment to excellence. That commitment begins and ends with service to Jewish day schools: we dedicate ourselves to providing the guidance, support and programs needed to help our schools find their own paths toward excellence. We firmly believe that Jewish day schools embody the best in the Jewish community: the best education, the best values, the best embodiment of klal Yisrael, talmud Torah, and tikkun olam. RAVSAK takes its obligation not only to support the field, but also to offer leadership, quite seriously.

From the Editor: Surprising Insights Into Excellence

by Barbara Davis, Executive Editor Jun 01, 2015
RELATED TOPICS: LeadershipMission & Vision

What does excellence have to do with pornography? Only that, as Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said, we know it when we see it.

Badges of Excellence in Professional Development

by Sarah Blattner and Samuel Abramovich Jun 01, 2015
RELATED TOPICS: TeachersTechnology

Teacher professional development is one of the most consistent and reliable tools available for improving schools. Because teachers are increasingly recognized as the single most important factor in making change within a school, professional development programs can lead to increased student learning by providing teachers an opportunity to reflect on their practices and develop new pedagogical skills. However, providing quality teacher professional development remains a significant challenge for all educational organizations.

Cultivating Pedagogic Excellence in Teachers

by Amy Golubtchik Ament, Yael Adler Bailey, Nina Bruder, and Fayge Safran Jun 01, 2015
RELATED TOPICS: TeachersPedagogy

Cultivating pedagogic excellence in teachers clearly impacts students, schools and the field of Jewish day school education. While no two Jewish day schools share the exact same goals and approaches for educational content outcomes, all schools do share the same goals of reaching and teaching all of their students. Helping teachers grow from good to great to excellent can be achieved when a number of conditions are in place to support teacher growth.

Why Fix What Ain’t Broke? Striving for Excellence in Hebrew Education

by Tal Grinfas-David, Idit BenDavid, and Liat Kadosh Jun 01, 2015

What does it take to achieve excellence in Hebrew education? A willingness on behalf of the leaders and community to engage in a critical examination of an already successful program. At the Epstein School in Atlanta, we had developed a reputation as a school with a highly successful Hebrew immersion program. And yet, internally, we knew we could do better; there were gaps in achievement that we struggled to address, and we needed the perspective of an outside expert to help give us a bigger picture on the program’s goals and implementation.

Seven Lessons in Pursuit of Board Excellence

by Orlee Turitz Jun 01, 2015
RELATED TOPICS: Board Governance

Through my work over the past ten years in board governance and as the architect of RAVSAK’s Sulam 2.0 program in board development, I have seen firsthand the incredible progress that has been made in day school governance. Working with my colleagues who have led the charge toward best practices, I’ve seen many schools paying increased attention to the role of the board vis-à-vis the administration. Although it hasn’t been easy, boards are pulling back from micromanaging school functions.

Equal Opportunity Excellence: Enrichment Education for All

by Sharon Marson Jun 01, 2015

The Midrash states that Hashem chose Betzalel by pointing to his name in a book that listed every person who ever was or ever will be born. What is the meaning of this? The message is that just as Betzalel had a specific purpose for which he was chosen, so too every person has a distinct calling. How can we as educators help enkindle in our students the greatness for which they were created? Personal excellence happens when we tap into our own and others’ talents and strengths. Excellence is not reserved for the few. It is inside all of us. It is possible to elicit excellence from each of our students.

Creating Cultures of Excellence

by Questions for Seth Cohen Jun 01, 2015
RELATED TOPICS: Mission & Vision

How do you determine excellence?