L'Shana Tova

The Fall Open House – 250 Attendees, Four Strands and One Motivating Outcome

On Sunday, September 25th, over 100 families with prospective ninth grade students from across the greater Boston community experienced the Gann Open House, a compelling capture of what makes Gann tick.  The afternoon program began with two moving songs by the ShenaniGanns, Gann’s award-winning student a cappella group. Rabbi Marc Baker then welcomed the attendees and spoke to the importance of the students finding a high school experience that they will truly love, an experience that will, in large part, define who they will become.  He also shared that, as a parent of an eighth grader, he was looking at the question of high school through a different lens and offered up what he believes parents want from a school: 

“We want a school that is going to see and know our children, to develop their capabilities and push them to reach their potential; ultimately, we want them to graduate from high school ready—to face the world; to succeed and thrive in college, the workplace, life—and to be happy and fulfilled. This means academically ready, of course, with skills, knowledge, intellectual confidence, and, we want them to be mensches—to make responsible choices as they become independent adults, to give back.  And we want them to know who they are and where they come from—to have a strong sense of self as they make their way through this changing and challenging world. We know that being part of the Jewish community and finding meaning in Judaism will help give them this confidence and sense of self.”

He made the point that such a multi-faceted outcome of readiness can only be realized via an education that intentionally weaves together four essential strands, strands that Gann uniquely delivers: preparing our students with the highest level of academic skills and knowledge; character education and ethical responsibility; creating opportunities for students to pursue their passions and find their unique voices; and strengthening Jewish identity and our students’ sense of self. 

The families were then given the opportunity to experience readiness development in the classroom with five different model sessions and to talk directly with department chairs and staff at the Info Fair. The final element of the program was a moving speech by Jonathan Gould, a Gann alumnus from the class of 2006 and currently a student at Harvard Law School.  Jonathan’s story was the perfect culmination to the day, highlighting how the strands impacted his development and his readiness for college, career, and life. 

 A New Year, A New Look: The Gann Lobby Makeover                                     

You can’t miss it.  Visitors to Gann are now met with a bold and engaging motif and display of messages in the lobby and Dining Hall that succinctly capture the personality, the purpose, and the values of the school.  It’s a perfect celebration of the new year and a fresh and fun take on what Gann is all about.   A bright red, eight-foot long “Welcome” in both English and Hebrew at the reception window is bested by a 30-foot long “Ready for Tomorrow”, capturing the declared intent of the school, to prepare our graduates for the 21st century and all the opportunities and challenges they will face.  Contemporary furnishings, modular seating areas, and high top tables underscore the message by providing enticing places for collaboration and conversation. 

A new comfortable seating area in the main alcove is around the corner from a bright red wall that contains motivating quotes from five distinct Jewish voices from the past.  The compelling statements, in both English and Hebrew, range from Bob Dylan’s “I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with freedom”  to Hannah Senesh, a paratrooper during World War II, who once declared, “One needs something to believe in, something for which one can have whole-hearted enthusiasm. One needs to feel that one's life has meaning, that one is needed in this world.”  The words capture the depth and breadth of Jewish understanding while providing encouragement to the students to think and act with courage and conviction.

The final element of the makeover extends into the Dining Hall where visitors, students, and staff are exposed to the four values, each rendered in red, 20-foot English and Hebrew lettering.  Care, Connect, Strive and Create are now constant reminders to all and an apt guide as we head into the new year. 

The Fall Open House – 250 Attendees, Four Strands and One Motivating Outcome

On Sunday, September 25th, over 100 families with prospective ninth   grade students from across the greater Boston community experienced the Gann Open House, a compelling capture of what makes Gann tick.  The afternoon program began with two moving songs by the ShenaniGanns, Gann’s award-winning student a cappella group. Rabbi Marc Baker then welcomed the attendees and spoke to the importance of the students finding a high school experience that they will truly love, an experience that will, in large part, define who they will become.  He also shared that, as a parent of an eighth grader, he was looking at the question of high school through a different lens and offered up what he believes parents want from a school: 

“We want a school that is going to see and know our children, to develop their capabilities and push them to reach their potential; ultimately, we want them to graduate from high school ready—to face the world; to succeed and thrive in college, the workplace, life—and to be happy and fulfilled. This means academically ready, of course, with skills, knowledge, intellectual confidence, and, we want them to be mensches—to make responsible choices as they become independent adults, to give back.  And we want them to know who they are and where they come from—to have a strong sense of self as they make their way through this changing and challenging world. We know that being part of the Jewish community and finding meaning in Judaism will help give them this confidence and sense of self.”

He made the point that such a multi-faceted outcome of readiness can only be realized via an education that intentionally weaves together four essential strands, strands that Gann uniquely delivers: preparing our students with the highest level of academic skills and knowledge; character education and ethical responsibility; creating opportunities for students to pursue their passions and find their unique voices; and strengthening Jewish identity and our students’ sense of self. 

The families were then given the opportunity to experience readiness development in the classroom with five different model sessions and to talk directly with department chairs and staff at the Info Fair. The final element of the program was a moving speech by Jonathan Gould, a Gann alumnus from the class of 2006 and currently a student at Harvard Law School.  Jonathan’s story was the perfect culmination to the day, highlighting how the strands impacted his development and his readiness for college, career, and life. 

A Celebration across Generations: The Second Annual Grandparents’ and Friends’ Lunch and Learn

Today we had the pleasure of welcoming 95 Gann grandparents and special friends to our campus for the second annual Grandparents’ and Visitors’ Lunch & Learn event. The morning began with an opening from Grandparent Committee Co-chairs, Harriet & Stuart Sherman, who thanked our grandparent community for their involvement and support of Gann. Frank Tipton, Assistant Head of School, greeted the group and shared Gann’s educational philosophy including the bold and innovative curriculum and programming and the value of inter-generational learning.

Aaron Butler ’17 and Eitan Galper ’17 brought Gann to life for the crowd, speaking about how they have been able to find their passions and voices at Gann. “Our teachers encourage everyone to pursue what they are passionate about, guiding us to succeed in whatever we set our mind to.  It is because of our dedicated teachers and the environment that they set up that we are given the chance to become unique people and well-educated young adults in both secular and Jewish realms,” said Butler. Both students credited their grandparents with instilling in them a strong sense of self and commitment to the Jewish people.

Gann grandparents were then able to get a sampling of what our students experience every day in the classroom.  Lily Rabinoff-Goldman, English Department Chair, gave an overview of an exciting oral history project her US History students completed last spring. Lily taught the group about the power of oral history and how each grandparent can be an opportunity for their grandchild to explore living history.  

The second session was offered by Mark Wilkins, Science Department Chair, who gave an overview of how the Gann curriculum brings chemistry to life for our students by focusing a unit on water.  Water is a critical element of our everyday lives and Mark demonstrated how he teaches our students to understand the environmental, social, and chemical elements of water.  Mark is leading an innovative project this year with our sister school Ironi Hey in Haifa, Israel.  10th graders at Gann and Ironi Hey are doing similar water experiments and will collaborate together on this curriculum when our 10th graders are in Israel this spring.  

Rabbi Sara Meirowitz, Assistant Dean of the Jewish Education, closed out the program by teaching a text from Pirkei Avot (Wisdom of our Fathers) and using this ancient text to shed light on how Gann faculty educate and focus on each individual learner.  Rabbi Meirowitz closed her session by blowing the shofar, a traditional practice in the month of Elul, the Hebrew month preceding Rosh Hashanah.

Head of School Rabbi Marc Baker closed the program along with a wonderful performance by the ShenaniGanns. It was a fantastic event and guests enjoyed a meaningful lunch with their grandchildren. Thank you to the Gann grandparent community for their support and we look forward to Grandparents and Friends Day on Thursday, April 6, 2017!

 

Gann Professionals Return With Amazing Experiences in Israel

As the Gann Professionals trip to Israel ends, we wanted to highlight a few memories. Take a look at the photos below and some quotes from their experiences. 

"Our arrival in Jerusalem began with a stop at Mount Scopus with a picturesque view of the city and its diversity of sacred sites.  Over Shabbat, my colleagues took full advantage of the day whether at area synagogues, key Christian sites, or the beauty of Jerusalem’s parks and streets.  We enjoyed the vitality of the Shuk pre and post Shabbat, both of which offered a sense of the pulse of the city ."

"As I sit here in Ben Gurion Airport, it is hard to believe that in the past 72 hours we have been on the beach of Haifa, working the land of Israel in the center of the country, on the Lebanon border, a kibbutz in the Galilee, the holy mystical synagogues of Tzfat, meeting with an Ethiopian Orthodox rabbi in Kiryat Gat, climbing Masada, floating in the Dead Sea, and overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem!"

"This morning our group visited the Shrine of the Baha’ullah and the Gardens at Baha’i, it was beautiful and very peaceful. Next we traveled to Galilee to visit with HaShomer HaChadash – we met with them at an olive grove and learned more about the youth and young adult programs they offer. The highlight for me was working in the grove and then having lunch underneath the olive trees."

"Our next stop was LOTEM’s ecological farm in Emek HaShalom. LOTEM is a nonprofit organization that offers educational nature activities to children and adults with special needs. I loved this place and the work they’re doing – it was very inspiring."

Gann Professionals Learn in Israel

24 Gann Professionals embarked on the first ever staff faculty mission to Israel. This is an incredible opportunity, not only for those going, but for our whole community. They are truly exploring new places, building new connections, and strengthening existing ones between Gann students, staff, faculty, and Israel. This is the first trip of its kind and we sincerely appreciate the investment that the Gann community has made in us. They are sharing their experiences and travels along the way. Please check out the Gann Israel Blog to see photos and read about our daily adventures!

Here are some highlight from their first few days in Israel.

First Night In Israel

"We had a great first full day in Israel! It was Shabbat so we took it easy-ish... many of us went to the beach in the morning to swim or walk, and over the course of the day we heard from some speakers, had time to pray (Jewish, Catholic, and opt-out options), "process," and eat (and eat and eat.). Some people visited with family members, most of us did Havdallah on the beach, and we all learned about the education systems in Israel. There was a chance to take a local tour, dine in the Boardwalk by the Mediterranean, and eat ice cream in the hot sun.  We should all sleep well tonight..."

Save A Child's Heart

"Wonderful visit Sunday with Save a Child's Heart, a program that brings children who need heart surgery from around the world to Wolfson Hospital in Israel for surgery. Met children and mothers from several places in Africa.  Was delighted to find a young girl from Ethiopia who played with small game pieces with me. It was clear we could not converse in English, so imagine my surprise when she helped me count them all the way to twenty in English.  Clearly a future mathematician."

Check out more highlights from the trip by visiting the Gann Israel Blog.

Gann Academy Awarded $1.5 Million Jim Joseph Foundation Grant

Innovative Program to Focus on Developing Young Leaders For Careers in Jewish Education

Gann Academy announced today that it has been granted up to $1,500,000 from the Jim Joseph Foundation to pilot an Early Career Fellowship Program focused on developing and positioning young leaders for careers in Jewish education.  The grant is the latest example of the innovative high school’s expanding leadership role in strengthening the Jewish community both in the greater Boston area and nationally.

The multi-year matching grant funds Gann hiring a national manager to form and oversee this first-of-its kind program and the recruiting of six national Fellows—new college graduates—at three different Jewish high schools:  Gann Academy in Waltham, Massachusetts; Abraham Joshua Heschel School in New York, New York; and de Toledo High School in Los Angeles, California.  The three schools represent the leading edge of Jewish secondary education and share a commitment to training the next generation of educational leadership.  

As Rabbi Marc Baker, head of Gann Academy, notes, “The Jim Joseph Foundation grant is another example of the depth and breadth of our mission and impact.  We are here to prepare our students for today’s world and to ensure that we are building a solid foundation for the next generation.  Teaching the teachers is a critical component of that foundation.”

Led by Gann, the three pilot schools will become an on-ramp for new talent, benefiting directly from the contributions of the fellows while learning what it takes to recruit, inspire and connect young professionals to a meaningful career.

In addition to the recruiting and assignment of the six Fellows, the matching grant enables the development of a robust curriculum for the Fellows, the annual convening of the Fellows to compare experiences and share learning, and the creation of formative and summative evaluations.

“With its record of educational success, Gann Academy is a natural partner for this innovative new program,” adds Chip Edelsberg, executive director of the Jim Joseph Foundation. “There is an urgent need to develop talented young leaders have the skills and support necessary to deliver excellent Jewish education in a variety of settings. As the Fellowship evolves we look forward to sharing learnings and key lessons to help all who care about the future of Jewish life and learning.”

While the essence of the Fellows’ professional development will be their full-time work over two years as part of the schools’ Jewish and Student Life teams, they will also seek to engage with other constituents in their local communities. Those activities will include but not be limited to working with regional directors of teen youth organizations, adult education, and doing student recruitment work with local synagogues and day schools or other synergies, as determined by the Fellow and the school.

The grant also will support an outside evaluator to provide deep understanding of the program’s impact on the Fellows and their school communities with an eye towards the scalability of the program and its real capacity to increase the pipeline of engaged, passionate and prepared Jewish educational leaders for the future. 

For more information visit: www.jimjosephfoundation.org