May. 1, 2011
On May 22 we will conclude another successful school year. We will also complete the NESS (Nurturing Excellence in Synagogue Schools) process that has taken place at PTS for the past three years. This initiative provided PTS the opportunity to implement many positive changes into our school.
We began 2008 with a comprehensive assessment that gave us a snapshot of the school's status, academically and socially. The assessment helped a committee of 14 lay leaders, parents, and professionals to create a new mission statement and seven guiding principles. This document served as the core of the work of two other subcommittees that focused on creating new curriculum and planning for the informal component of our educational program.
The Curriculum Committee has already revised most of our curriculum. This year the teachers used the new holidays' curriculum that is based on a spiral learning process that helps us avoid repetitions. The Youth Programs and Experiential Education Committee created a vision and action plan for all informal activities that we provide our youth. These plans were endorsed by the NESS committee and will be implemented next year and in years to come.
Besides NESS, this year we expanded our youth groups' activities.
We improved our communication with parents and congregants by creating a website and producing a mid-year newsletter. Our teachers participated in 25 hours of professional development sessions that focused on class management, special needs, new teaching methods, and new discipline tools. As we shifted toward more experiential learning programs this year, our students spent more time learning through art, music, and technology.
Change takes time and much effort. Many devoted congregants helped to make this change happen. I would like to thank the dozens of parents and PTS members who spent hours debating, discussing, and moving our school forward. A special thanks to Ness Chair Stacie Hershman, Curriculum Committee Chair Karen Wisialowski, and YPEE Committee Chair David Korth, all of whom invested their time and energy to make this program a successful one. Kol ha kavod! Well done!