Our Stories

Moments of Gratitude

November 22, 2017 by Arielle Derby (Faculty and Staff) Lisa Schopf (Faculty and Staff) Melissa Davis (Faculty and Staff) Naomi Reem (Faculty and Staff)

Gratitude is powerful. It opens the heart. It makes you conscious of all the blessings that are already yours, and better able to see the small miracles in everyday life. The Hebrew term for gratitude is hakarat hatov, which means, literally, “recognizing the good.” This year, MILTON’s Division Directors Melissa Davis, Arielle Derby, and Lisa Schopf joined Head of School Naomi Reem in sharing moments of gratitude for the great and small miracles that are part of daily life at our school.

Teachers are the Foundation

When it comes to expressing gratitude, MILTON’s dedicated, caring, and truly talented faculty and staff simply cannot be thanked enough. We are inspired every day by their steadfast commitment to nurturing every child’s growth, whether on an intellectual, emotional, spiritual, social, or physical level. Without a doubt, MILTON’s teachers are the foundation of our school, and their passion, hard work, dedication, and kindness make every day brighter.

“We’re a big cohort, one big family”

MILTON’s community extends beyond the walls of our buildings, and includes not only students, teachers, and staff but families, friends and supporters. We are blessed to have an incredible Board of Trustees, whose passion and commitment will help to ensure MILTON’s continued success for many years to come. MILTON’s volunteers generously offer their time, talents, and skills to enrich our school in countless ways. Everyone at MILTON knows that our school community is more than the sum of its parts, and the consistent support and enthusiasm of our volunteers and our Board are a testament to that truth. As one alumni student put it, “We’re a big cohort, one big family.” This Thanksgiving, we want to express how grateful we are to be a part of this family.

Cultivating Expert Thinking in Math

How can we use our knowledge of geometry and angles to come up with a winning strategy for playing pool? Or how can we count, record, and organize all the school supplies in our new classroom? These are just a few of the ways our students and teachers have been grappling with meaningful and challenging math problems, following two full-morning workshops focused on experiential math education.

Authentic Art

Inspired by the Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) approach to teaching art as well as research about the power of student choice, Art teacher Jill Stepak empowers MILTON artists to choose projects, methods, and materials that speak to them in art class.  The result? Delicate watercolor paintings of flowers, complex 3-D structures from paper and found materials, detailed comic drawings, colorful and dynamic creatures made from model magic, and more – all in the same class period!

Vibrant Community Tefilah 

During the first hour of the morning, the buildings hums with song as our students gather in their classrooms to explore new melodies and belt out familiar ones with gusto, practice and internalize new tefilot, ponder the meanings of favorite prayers, and create personal connections to the art of prayer. In keeping with our value of pluralism and our desire to model that tefilah is for everyone, this year students experience tefilah with a wide range of faculty leaders: JS and GS teachers, science teachers, division directors, and an art teacher with a guitar.

Real World Experiences & Learning with Experts

Sixth graders have learned with documentary filmmakers, a podcast producer, photo-journalist, author, and experts in Jewish text to prepare for their work on the documentary about the school’s 30-year history. There have been many extraordinary moments throughout the process as the students research historical documents, and cultivate skills in writing, project management, interviewing, and storytelling. One special moment happened during an interview with Ezra Marcus, one of JPDS’s earliest students. One of our students presented Ezra with a copy of a speech that he had written and delivered to the zoning board when he was a sixth grader in 2000, advocating on behalf of the school as it searched for a new home. Ezra was blown away by our students’ ace research skills in unearthing this document. He was so excited to see the speech, and it brought to mind a moving memory. We are so inspired by the passion that so many people feel for our school and the dedication they have shown throughout the years.

Commitment to Excellence

Professional development opportunities continue to elevate our community of practice. Building on the faculty’s summer reading of Late, Lost, and Unprepared by Joyce Cooper-Kahn, staff attended a workshop with Joyce about executive functioning and strategies to help children develop key competencies; the school also hosted an adult education program with Joyce as part of the ongoing Zymelman Parenting Conversation. In addition, Jeff Heyck-Williams from Two Rivers Public Charter School led two Math workshops for all General Studies teachers and will return for another workshop in December. General Studies teachers from South Campus visited St. Andrews Episcopal School to develop a dialogue around the methods of teaching Reading in Early Childhood. And faculty members from North and South Campus participated in the Jewish New Teacher Project mentoring program.

Redefining the Middle School Experience

We are so grateful for the spirit of curiosity and wonder that our students bring to their learning; for the enthusiasm and commitment of our families as we launch our new middle school program together; and for the vision and passion of our teachers. Our middle school is defined by intellectual excitement, warmth and vibrancy, meaningful challenge, and a commitment to global citizenship and Jewish values.

Exploring Essential Questions & Big Ideas

How does a family become a nation? If you believe you are right and the other is wrong, can you still make peace? How do we face challenges and how do challenges define who we are? MILTON students dove deep into Jewish texts to explore these (and many other) essential questions and big ideas.

Full STEAM Ahead

Sixth graders learned how to use the Tinkercad program to design unique 3-dimensional pieces. Fifth graders reverse-engineered a pen to explore its parts, purposes, and complexities as they prepare to create their own inventions. Second graders learned about the musculoskeletal, respiratory and cardiovascular systems. First graders learned that animals have four needs – food, water, space to live, and shelter – then utilized their design thinking and engineering skills to build shelters that met the requirements of the design challenge.

Meaningful Connections to our Heritage

On a daily basis, our masterful Hebrew and Judaic Studies teachers bring Israel, Jewish culture, Jewish values, and Hebrew language to life at the school. At the South Campus, it may be dramatic re-enactments of Bible stories replete with costumes and props (and all in Hebrew), a a visual retelling of the story of Creation through a series of collages made with repurposed/recycled materials, or first graders reading and writing sentences in Hebrew. At the North Campus, it may be students writing lyrics and performing Hebrew pop songs and raps, learning about Israel’s history, and connecting with friends in Israel via Skype and conversing only in Hebrew. And everyone is getting ready for special programming in honor of Israel’s 70th birthday – stay tuned for the exciting details!

Leadership and Partnership

The South Campus hosted 15 educators from 6 area schools for our first Community Day of Learning. The day was filled with a presentation of our Kindergarten South Campus Theater Project, a self-guided tour, a Design Thinking challenge, and an educator panel. We are grateful for the opportunity to share our teaching and learning with the greater community.

Thank you to all of the member of our school community for partnering with us. We wish you and your family a happy Thanksgiving!