On My Nightstand: Books Prizmah Staff Are Reading

Adele Yermack, Shira Heller, Yael Steiner, Matt Williams

The Admission Funnel:
How to Streamline the Private School Admission Process

edited by Weldon Burge

An exceptional handbook for new and experienced admission professionals, The Admission Funnel provides detailed suggestions for managing families through each step in the process: inquiry, visit, application, assessment, acceptance, enrollment, matriculation and retention. Included are practical applications with samples, strategies and techniques that will help to set the framework for continued enrollment success. There are a wide range of admission-related topics, from marketing and word-of-mouth to the roles board members, the school receptionist, faculty and other school community members play in the recruitment and retention process.

Even those of us who are experienced admission professionals need support and a refresher on strategies and approaches to finding mission-appropriate students for our schools. I highly recommend The Admission Funnel not just to all members of the admission and marketing team but for other school leaders, too. Recruitment and retention is everyone’s responsibility; as Helen Keller stated so eloquently, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

Adele Yermack

Starting Strong

by Lois J. Zachary and Lory A. Fischler

Starting Strong is a fable describing the beginning of a mentoring relationship. Through the tale of Cynthia and Rafa, mentor and mentee, the authors reveal the pitfalls and the potential of mentoring. I read it cover to cover over Shabbat and ordered my own copy right after Havdalah. I know I’ll be returning to it over and over.

I found myself reflecting deeply on many of my relationships, both when I’m offering mentorship and when I’m receiving it. I nodded at areas in which I do well; I winced in recognition of mistakes I’ve made and opportunities I’ve missed. More than a quick, enjoyable and relatable read, Starting Strong is incredibly practical. I went to work on Monday morning with a plan for two powerful conversations I was having that day, one as mentor and one as mentee. Both were enriched by the book’s strategies and mindfulness. For educators who want to navigate richer, more productive conversations, this book is a must-read.

Shira Heller

The Thing Around Your Neck

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I first discovered Adichie’s powerful writing when I read her novel, Americanah, which follows the story of a Nigerian graduate student living in America. It introduced me to Nigerian history and culture and made me think about race and identify in entirely new ways. I was excited to pick up this book of short stories, and was quickly drawn in by the rich and compelling characters. The collection of 12 stories focuses on lives of Nigerian women and their experiences with political violence, navigating new marriages, moving to new places and being caught between worlds.

My favorite stories were those set in America, exploring similar themes to those in Americanah. Adichie’s storytelling provides a window into the complexity of living a dual identity, something that Jews can surely relate to.

Yael Steiner

Seeing Like a State:
How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed

by James Scott

I recently started rereading James Scott’s beautifully brutal Seeing Like a State. A current staple of graduate-level social science course syllabi throughout the country, Scott’s work tours a wide array of centrally managed, modern, progressive, state-led interventions that have spectacularly failed. The cases, from collectivist Russia to compulsory villages in Tanzania, are, by themselves, fascinating reads, rich in detail and full of the voices of those who participated.

But it’s Scott’s argument that made me want to re-read this book. Any centralized plan to intercede in (“to better”) the social fabric of communities is absolutely doomed unless local customs and the practical knowledge valued in that context are taken seriously, if not with a degree of higher authority. It’s an immensely humbling and valuable book. And, as Prizmah works to support and, yes, sometimes challenge the field of Jewish day schools to “do better,” it’s absolutely imperative for us to remind ourselves that without collaborating with practitioners, administrators, community members and all those invested in Jewish day schools—we got nothing.

Matt Williams

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HaYidion Differentiation Fall 2017
Fall 2017