Our entire student body participated in the California Young Reader Medal Awardsprogram. This program is sponsored by the California Reading Association, the California Association of Teachers of English, the California Library Association, and the California School Library Association. The program promotes the value of reading. Every student in our School heard the nominated titles, and voted for their favorite book. The winner in our School for Grades K-3, is the book, Memoirs of a Goldfish, by Devin Scillian, and Grades 4-6, The Junkyard Wonders, by Patricia Polacco. In May, we will know the winners for the entire state of California!
April is National Poetry Month. Poetry helps teach reading and enriches student writing. We have many quality poetry books in the library, so come in and check them out this month with your children.
Also, please remember the Book Awards Assembly will be held on June 4. If your student is participating in the book clubs this year, please have them turn in their forms to the Library by May 17.
Robert Lloyd, Librarian
In 1947, David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of the State of Israel spoke these words:
“Three hundred years ago a ship called the Mayflower set sail to the New World…This was a great event in the history of England. Yet I wonder if there is one Englishman who knows at what time the ship set sail? Do the English know how many people embarked on the voyage? What quality of bread did they eat?
Yet more than three thousand three hundred years ago, before the Mayflower set sail, the Jews left Egypt. Every Jew in the world…knows what kind of bread the Jews ate-Matzah. Even today the Jews worldwide eat Matzah on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Nisan. They retell the story of Exodus…”
Passover is by far the quintessential Jewish peoplehood holiday. I don’t think there is another Jewish holiday as widely celebrated and revered as Passover. Regardless of one’s degree of observance, we all come together whether it is to retell the story of our exodus, to be reminded of our own exodus or simply to get together with our families, eat symbolic foods and be grateful for what we have.
As educators, we are committed to link our children to the chain of Jewish tradition and help them connect to the story of our people passed from generation to generation-Midor L’Dor. Alon Moradi, our 4th grader said so beautifully during his class practice Seder,” We tell this story every year so we know it and can tell it to our children.” Out of the mouths of babes!
This week, we had the chance to eat the symbolic foods with the Kindergartners while they explained the meaning of each symbol on the Seder plate; to leave Egypt with the 1st Graders in joy and excitement; to recite the blessings with the 2nd Graders who read them all by themselves; to listen to the 3rd Graders personal Dayenu verses of gratitude added to the traditional song; to create beautiful Matzah plates with our 4th Graders as they talked about the pattern of number 4 in the Haggadah; to watch in awe as the 5th Graders took leadership roles during their interactive classroom Seder; and to cross the Red Sea and receive the Torah as our 6th Graders went on a journey from slavery into freedom.
We know you’ll be able to enjoy all the learning that happened at school when you sit at your family’s Seder table and your children share their wealth of knowledge with you.
We extend a special thanks to all the parents who helped us make our Passover learning that much more meaningful by sending food, paper goods, and volunteering time and efforts. Todah Rabbah!
Wishing you Chag Pesah Sameah,
Director of Hebrew/Judaic Studies
As we have gone through the very important process of Parent/Teacher conferences this week, it has provided us with an opportunity to reflect on the many and varied ways in which we build relationships between students, parents, and staff. Providing feedback and opportunity for discussion on a student’s social, emotional, spiritual, and academic progress is essential to the educational process, and one that we take very seriously. For that reason, we created a schedule in which progress reports alternate with parent/teacher conferences to provide four distinct, formal check points throughout the school year.
Progress Report narratives are intended to provide a balanced snap shot of the student as a whole, from social-emotional development, to specific academic characteristics, to his/her connection with Jewish Values, culminating in specific goals. Our teachers and administrative team work collaboratively to provide input in the writing of one cohesive student essay. We thank all of our teachers for the countless hours that they spend in order to provide this extremely valuable, detailed communication piece.
Parent/Teacher conferences are a time for parents to feel welcome, valued, listened to, and validated as part of the learning process. It is a personal discussion about the student’s strengths, performance, and progress on goals. We invite questions, and hope that the discussion is balanced, purposeful, and meaningful.
Informal communication is also essential to the relationships that we build, and we have an incredible staff to provide specific expertise in social/emotional issues, advanced learners, struggling learners, etc. Just send us an e-mail or give us a call if you have a question. Eduloops, this E-Newsletter, the digital screen in the office, our Facebook page, and our website are also updated regularly to communicate with you from a variety of platforms.
Thank you for your participation in Parent/Teacher conferences and for providing invaluable feedback to our School. We appreciate it and know that it makes us stronger!
Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Our Wildcats student-athletes have just completed a very busy winter schedule with our boys playing basketball and our girls playing soccer.
Our 4th Grade Girls’ Soccer team had a standout season, remaining undefeated in league play and claiming the league championship. Our Blue and White boys’ basketball teams played very well and showed a developing understanding of the game. The Blue team achieved 4 wins in a very tough division.
The 5th Grade Girls Soccer team achieved a championship double for the Wildcats by claiming our second league championship of the season. They won the championship by recording only one loss all season. While our Boys’ basketball teams in Grade 5 did not win any championships, we saw improvement in each team and believe they can make a push for the playoffs in Grade 6.
Our Grade 6 Boys’ White Basketball team made a serious run for the playoffs, but came up just short in their last game against Laurel Hall. The Blue and Red and Blue teams ended the season with strong performances and represented the school very well. The Grade 6 Girls' soccer team had some very competitive games throughout the season but came up short in their effort to make the playoffs.
Next up for the Wildcats are the Boys’ Soccer and Girls’ Volleyball seasons. Try-outs are on-going and the Spring teams and schedules will be published in the next couple of weeks.
I look forward to seeing you on the field for our exciting Spring seasons.
Coach Jason Kelly
Head of Athletics
Students take part in social and emotional learning every day in a variety of contexts, both inside and outside of the classroom. The dynamics incorporated within their daily interactions lead our students to learn and practice ways to collaborate with their peers, resolve conflicts, and sustain relationships in an academic and social realm. The students continually build a foundation to effectively communicate with others and navigate the dynamics of their classrooms, sports teams, and social circles. The Kindergarten students have been exemplifying these skills in an extraordinary way when participating in the social skills lessons that have been presented to them on a weekly basis. The students have demonstrated the ability to utilize the skills taught to them, through visual representations and puppet skits, in an assortment of settings. They continue to practice appropriate behaviors, such as turn-taking and sharing materials, throughout the day, whether it be during instructional time or on the recess yard. The First Graders will begin these social skills lessons next week, which will continue our emphasis on early intervention for social and emotional development. While creating a foundation for the students in the lower grades, the Advisory classes continue to facilitate discussion on topics relevant to our 6th Graders. The Advisory lessons serve as preparation for their upcoming entry into middle school and place an emphasis on the units of communication and friendship. The 6th Grade students have had an opportunity to express the topics important to them by using personification to create poems that relate to a societal issue, such as self-image, social networks, media, and cyber-bullying. The exploration of these issues leads to many questions from students, which further enhances the group discussions held in the classroom. The questions that are asked in a home setting will be addressed as well when parents meet with Dr. Ian Russ on Thursday, February 28th. We look forward to meeting with parents of 3rd through 6th Graders and having the opportunity to extend the conversation on this topic.
The students have displayed a true understanding of the lessons provided which contribute to their social and emotional development, whether it be participating in the social skills curriculum, engaging with one another during lunch bunch sessions across the grade levels, or collaborating with classmates and teachers during Advisory lessons. The students remain mindful of their actions when demonstrating their Jewish values, as well as those outlined in the PAWS Program: Positive, Appreciative, Wise and Safe. We are looking forward to our students’ growth in which they highlight these strengths on a daily basis and continue to exhibit these attributes to our entire community.
This week we really felt our American pride at Stephen S. Wise Temple Elementary School. As I walked through classrooms, I read interesting essays on the office of the president, observed lessons on Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, and did research with our Fifth Grade students on the early colonies. Each grade level is working on the concepts of citizenship, power, and change. They are looking at American history through the lenses of economists, sociologists, and political scientists. Our discussions are deep and meaningful, and I am confident our students will appreciate the day off next Monday with a new understanding of presidential history. Today was one of the highlights of our learning as we sang and cheered at our Patriotic Assembly. It was really powerful to see 400 of us in the Sanctuary - all decked out in red, white and blue - singing so enthusiastically. We sang some of the traditional classics that every American student should know, and added a few of our own unique fun songs (ask your child about Alexander’s Ragtime Band). It was a foot-stomping good time, and another reason I love being a part of our School community. Enjoy the long weekend and make sure to ask your student to share their favorite patriotic song with you!
Every one of them is beautiful. As I enter a classroom the magnificence of children always amazes me. While each one is unique in skin tone, hair color, eye shape and personality, they all come together, day after day, at school to socialize and learn side-by-side. As educators we marvel in their academic and social growth, and at times we shiver at the challenges they face. But overall, each child is moving along their own path. They are puppies in our program, running, finding their legs as they investigate their world. We as a school urge our students to accept their own personal strengths and weaknesses as we strive to remind them they are wonderful in so many ways. As children, their primary goal is to please the adults in their lives, even though this might not always appear to be the reality.
As teachers we have worked hard to recognize learning differences, both behavioral and academic, and each year we strive to better meet our students’ personal profiles. We ensure they have partners when needed, work to provide the best seat neighbors, teach in multi-modalities, and model proper social interactions. The needs of our children are numerous and diverse, and at times we have to re-define our view of “normal”.
As we begin the spring season and look forward to studying the holiday of Passover, I am reminded of the four children in the seder story, that highlights the diversity of our Stephen S. Wise students. This part of the haggadah does not juxtapose the wise child and the wicked one as being opposites. Quite the contrary, the text tells us the "simple" and "the one who does not know how to ask" should be taught according to their ability. Each student is unique and when we can acknowledge that fact, we can help address the individual needs of each child.
It is my job as Vice Principal of Student Support Services to keep us mindful of this important work. I am proud to be working at an institution that emphasizes these values and works together as a team to support our children in every way. Thank you for sharing in this important work with me.
Vice Principal of Student Support Services
“If you want to plant for a year, plant wheat; if you want to plant for ten years, plant trees; if you want to plant for 100 years, educate human beings.” Chinese Proverb
As a Jewish school it is incumbent upon us to provide our students with meaningful Jewish experiences in order for them to establish understanding of, and deep connection to, Jewish customs, traditions and the land of Israel. It is with this purpose in mind that our 3rd Graders embarked on an integrated study of the holiday of Tu B’Shvat through music, dance, and English and Hebrew narratives. On Thursday night as we gathered in our beautifully decorated Sanctuary, 3rd Grade parents and guests watched in awe as our students told the story of the holiday with enthusiasm and pride. It was evident to all that Tu B’Shvat became alive for the children and transformed from an external factor to an internal motivator. Kol Hakavod to our 3rd Grade students and teachers!
Another highlight of our unique programs is the experiential Tu B’Shvat learning at Camp Alonim. We take our K-6 Graders to an environment that has the same eco-system as Israel and engage our entire school community in various hands-on activities outdoors at the magnificent Brandeis-Bardin Campus. This is truly the embodiment of “teaching by doing”. In this way, the big ideas of Tu B’Shvat of caring for our environment, preserving nature and continuing God’s work of creation are learned not only through textbooks but through planting saplings, hiking and learning about plants, engaging in Teva (nature) scavenger hunts, and immersing in the beauty all around to be able to appreciate nature’s gifts to us.
This will be our second annual Tu B’Shvat trip to Camp Alonim and although we heard positive feedback from teachers, students and parents on how valuable this day was, it wasn’t until we had to cancel the trip last year due to weather, that we realized the impact this experiential learning had on our students. This year, we look forward to creating more memories and connecting deeply with our commitment to taking care of this earth Midor L’Dor-from generation to generation.
Often former students of Stephen S. Wise Temple Elementary School come to visit and reminisce about their favorite Jewish holiday performance and upon their recollection they immediately break into a song, a dance, or a speaking part they still remember. I love those moments because, in essence, this is exactly what we want to instill in our children-an enduring love and affection towards Judaism.
Director of Hebrew/Judaic Studies
This week has been a flurry of activity for teachers and students. Teachers worked hard all day Tuesday on report cards, meeting with administrators one-on-one, and planning as grade levels. Students came back Wednesday to present long term projects, rehearse for Tu B’Shvat, and jump back into math, reading, science and social studies. We are particularly proud of our 3rd Graders for their incredible talent and diligence in preparing their Tu B’Shvat performance. Our 4th Graders have been demonstrating scholarly behavior as they explore the relationship between structures of power and change in California History and delve in to the Mission period. In 6th Grade, some students presented architectural designs as they integrated their understanding of proportion, measurement and percentage. First Graders presented their community worker projects and demonstrated knowledge of the tools, actions, language and responsibilities of members of different disciplines. Second Graders explored the ethical issues and different perspectives of the Civil Rights Movement and the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.
We continue to work on finding commonalities across the subject areas using Universal Themes such as power, change, systems, patterns and structures. Students are beginning to make interdisciplinary connections and apply critical thinking skills throughout the curriculum. We look forward to delivering report cards to 6th Grade at the end of the month and to K-5 by February 14. It has been amazing to see the growth in individual students this year, as well as the maturity of whole classes. Their academic, emotional and spiritual development is evidenced in thoughtful work, and is something in which teachers, students and parents should take great pride.
Director of Curriculum & Instruction