Dear Hillel Community,
The past two months have been deeply challenging for all of us. We are particularly mindful of those who are hurting financially, and those who have battled illness. Our thoughts remain with our families and friends who have lost loved ones to the pandemic, including the loss that all of us suffered from the passing of Coach Tony.
Yet as you hopefully have witnessed and will see further below, Hillel Day School has risen to the challenge and will continue to do so. Where many other schools have struggled to provide any learning continuity, our teachers and our support teams adapted quickly and remarkably. And our community has stayed connected and engaged. Our professional staff have been working harder than ever to continue operations, to provide meaningful and innovative learning, to keep us connected, to nourish our children’s Jewish identities—all the reasons you committed to Hillel in the first place.
Task forces are deep in planning for every potential scenario for the next school year as well—educationally, operationally, and financially. We are grateful to have the simultaneous leadership in this planning from both our Interim Head of School Naty Katz and our incoming Head of School Dr. Darin Katz, as the Head of School transition continues successfully. We are pleased to share a joint message from Naty and Darin below, updating you on the reopening efforts and current plans.
This summer also marks the planned transition of the President of the Board of Trustees. We both thank you for your patience and support, and for the extraordinary efforts of so many. Times like these remind us how fortunate we are to have Hillel for our children and for our community.
Ellen Folbe Eric Bronstein
President, Board of Trustees President-elect, Board of Trustees
Dear Hillel Families,
It was uplifting to see an outpouring of support for our teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week last week. Our faculty, staff, and Leadership Team continue to go above and beyond each day to deliver a remote learning program that provides academic continuity, time for meaningful social connection for your children, and opportunities to continue their Jewish development. We remain incredibly proud of the entire Hillel community for how we have come together during this unprecedented challenge.
We want to thank the parents who filled out the feedback survey on our remote learning program. Even as we remain fully committed to continually improving our program for the remainder of the current school year, we have also begun our preparations for the 2020-2021 school year and we write to you today with an update.
We have every hope and expectation of returning to in-person learning at our campus in the Fall. However, given the uncertainties about the course of the pandemic, no final decisions regarding when we will return to our facility can yet be officially made. While we are all eager to return to our incredible campus, the health and safety of our community will remain paramount as we embark on the planning process for next year. We are planning for several possibilities for the 2020 - 2021 academic year that will be consistent with local, state, and federal guidelines and regulations. While life at Hillel might not return to exactly as it was before COVID-19, we are certain that our community will bring ingenuity, passion, and determination to answering questions of how to adapt to our new normal that preserves the neshama (soul) of Hillel Day School.
With this in mind, we want to lay out the principles that will guide our decision-making going forward and the planning process as it stands now.
Our mission remains unchanged. Whether instruction takes place throughout the coming year in-person, virtually, or with a hybrid modality, we are committed to inspiring ...
A Passion for Learning
We will maintain academic excellence in General Studies, Judaic Studies, and the Hebrew language so that your children continue to make academic progress, learn, and thrive in ways that are innovative, engaging, individual, and personalized. The Leadership Team and a committee of teachers will devote significant time in the early summer to evaluating our remote learning program and making improvements based on best educational practices and feedback from teachers, parents, and students. We will ensure that Hillel’s Remote Learning Program emphasizes creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, community, and our core Jewish values.
Responsibility to Self and Community
Our kehillah (community) is our greatest strength. We will be developing new and creative ways for Hillel students and parents to safely gather virtually or in-person so that we can maintain close connections with our classmates, our teachers, our community, and of course, our Jewish heritage. We will strive to ensure that the social, emotional, and mental health needs of our students continue to be met.
Devotion to Jewish Living
Our commitment to inspiring our students’ devotion to Jewish living is more important than ever. Our Jewish tradition and rituals provide meaning and offer a framework to maintain community and provide stability in unsettling times. We will continue to bring meaningful Jewish experiences and holiday celebrations to our students to enhance their Jewish lives.
The planning process will be informed by the work of three committees (composed of administrators, teachers, and representatives from the Board of Trustees) who will soon begin meeting to examine all aspects of school life for 2020 - 2021.
- The Campus Reopening Task Force will address school operations, health, hygiene, safety, and facilities so that we are prepared to follow government guidelines once our campus can safely reopen.
- The Academic Continuity and Excellence Task Force will address all aspects of teaching and learning, Jewish life and living, and student wellness.
- The Financial Planning Task Force will address enrollment management, fundraising, and other budgetary issues.
When our campus reopens, several members of the Campus Reopening Task Force will supervise daily health screenings of faculty, staff, and students, physical distancing protocols, and cleaning and disinfection according to all CDC and government regulations.
We are seeking input on best practices from leading ECC to grade 12 educational organizations including the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools, and Independent School Management (ISM). Many of us participate regularly in webinars sponsored by these organizations.
We are committed to maintaining ongoing communication with you that is informative, transparent, and honest. As part of this effort, we will host additional town halls in the near future to address your questions and concerns.
The challenge ahead of us will require our utmost commitment to our children's education, to each other, and to Hillel Day School, as well as adaptability, patience, kindness, and compassion. Working with one another, and with unwavering faith, we will safely emerge from these uncharted waters together as a strong and unified community, in pursuit of our noble mission. Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, says “Change is not threatening, so long as we keep firm hold of the values by and for which we live. We can travel with confidence so long as we have a map.” As a Hillel community, we will hold firm to our values and continue providing an outstanding education for our children.
Best wishes for continued good health and with gratitude for your partnership,
Naty Katz Dr. Darin Katz
Interim Head of School Incoming Head of School