Head of School Corner Archive

Thursday, October 19, 2017


Dear Parents,

What an amazing week we experienced with our Northern Cheyenne friends! The bonfire/campout was remarkable, the many classroom learning experiences for all of our students were meaningful and authentic, and the walk was powerful. As I walked on the Portage Path with our friends form Montana and our 1st-8th grade students, I thought about this question: how do children learn best? More specifically, I thought about the following: would a student learn more form two weeks of study in the classroom through textbooks about the local significance of the historic portage path, or spending two hours walking the path with other schools, community members, local politicians and our partners at the Summit County Historical Society? It is easy to learn and quickly forget dates in history, but what we learned through our experience together on Monday is something that these students may never forget.

There was much press coverage about this event, but the most significant story ended up on the evening news on WKYC Cleveland/Akron. The link to the clip is found below. Please note that our goal in “Walking the Path” -which we initiated one year ago before much of the local political attention noted in the newscast- was to bring awareness and education to one of Akron’s most historic and important landmarks that few in our community know exists. At the same time, our educational philosophy supports the important ideal that education can lead to action, civic dialogue and broadening the perspective of those around us. Additionally, there is a strong ethic found in Jewish wisdom that minority groups and their historical experience and perspective is important to bring to light for those around us. Without such knowledge a society can become ignorant of its past and present and this can easily lead to misconceptions and even negative stereotypes.

I know that through our 6-year partnership with the Northern Cheyenne Nation and the two walks we have facilitated together, we have brought important and authentic learning experiences for our students and community. I am proud to say that The Lippman School is taking a local leadership position to help not only our students, but the citizens and civic leaders of Akron become more knowledgeable about the history of our land and nation.

Here is the news clip:

http://www.wkyc.com/news/local/akron/students-hold-symbolic-walk-to-honor-native-americans-in-akron/481973041

As we end the Holiday of Sukkot with the celebration of Simchat Torah, Jewish people rejoice as the Torah Scroll (the Five Books of Moses) is completed and we roll the Torah back to the beginning. In Jewish philosophy there is great emphasis on the cyclical nature of culturally significant moments. As we enter a new season/holiday it is as if we are experiencing the events of the past at the same time (think concentric rings) just one year removed from it. My friend Burt Medicine Bull from the Northern Cheyenne Nation said that as they were drumming and dancing along the Portage Path, he could feel the spirits of past indigenous people being re-awakened. He felt they were drumming, dancing and walking with us on that day. We hope to walk the same path on Monday, October 8th, 2018. We invite you to join us.

Chag Sa’mayach (Hebrew for a joyous holiday)

Have a great weekend,

Sam Chestnut

Head Of School

www.thelippmanschool.org

 

Friday, September 15, 2017


Dear Parents,

It was great to see so many of you at our Back To School Barbeque on Sunday. As I mentioned to the parents there that day, this school year is off to a great start. Our school continues to see growth as demonstrated by our 19 Kindergarten students. This is the largest Kindergarten class the school has had in over 10 years. In addition, we welcome many new students throughout the school. The reputation of our school in the community has grown as we are recognized as a school where academic excellence lives in a school in which diversity and cross-cultural learning are a hallmark. This year as a staff we are emphasizing Jewish values that speak to all people. We are challenging ourselves to increase our awareness of developing our students as global citizens who are at our best when we listen to others and understand that living in community (the Jewish value we learned about recently) together requires that we all look out for each other to ensure that all are cared for and their voices heard.

Today, when a student was injured playing ball at recess, I saw an older student help that child to the office. Yesterday, when there was disagreement in a classroom 3 students came to my office to “right a wrong” they were concerned about and we together developed a plan to fix the problem. Students at the Lippman School understand that in this community we put compassion and empathy at the top of the list of character traits we want to see in our students.

As I have met informally with new students in the upper grades, and speak with their parents I hear things like, “the work is more challenging here, but I am getting help from teachers” and “my son/daughter is so eager to come to school, it’s like I have my happy child back.” To put academic excellence on equal footing with compassion and empathy is no easy task for a school; at Lippman it can be seen every day.

As I begin my 7th year as Head of School, I now have a greater perspective on the trajectory of our school and the work of our staff as a collaborative and forward-thinking team. Together we have developed a shared sense of purpose and a highly professional approach to teaching and learning. And above all, we place the individual child in the center of the decisions we make together in partnership with our families.

On Friday, together we end our day with something we call TGIS (thank goodness it’s Shabbat). We come together as an entire school and reflect upon the week of learning as we welcome the weekend during which we hope that students have time to be with family. For the Jewish people Shabbat –the Sabbath- begins at sundown on Friday night and ends at sundown on Saturday. This time is set aside as a time where some in our community try to abstain from work, have a family/friend meal together and some attend synagogue Friday night and/or Saturday morning. The universal themes that we try to share with all students is that being with family, being reflective about the week that has ended and what will be in the future and sharing time away from our busy “plugged in” life is important. When we take times like this –whether it’s Shabbat or a traditional Sunday night family dinner- we develop in ourselves the important bonds that we share between family and friends.

We also sometimes use our TGIS time together to recognize other important cultural moments that are connected to our curriculum. Today, Maestra Kogan (our Spanish teacher and a native of Mexico City) had students cook and eat traditional Mexican food, taught us about her native country and led the entire school and staff in traditional Mexican dancing. The timing of this experience coincides with Mexico’s Independence Day.

Shabbat Shalom (literally translated from Hebrew as “a peaceful Sabbath”).

Have a great weekend,

Sam

Sam Chestnut

Head of School

 


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