Reflections on the 2018-19 School Year

Reflections on the 2018-19 School Year
  • Lower Division
  • Upper Division
Avi Halzel, Head of School/CEO

By Avi Halzel, Ped. D., Head of School/CEO

Mid May is upon us and I find myself reflecting on the current school year and excitedly planning for the 2019-20 school year. To be honest with you, this has not been the easiest of years.  

The attacks on two American synagogues and the numerous shootings, threats, and false alarms impacted us all. Everyone deserves to be able to go to houses of worship and schools without fear for their safety. I am proud of how we responded to these events and I am confident in our security. That being said, we are currently looking at the best and most appropriate ways to increase security for the future. The safety of our students and our community is paramount. 

In February we had our ACIS re-accreditation visit, which was the culmination of two years of preparation. The re-accreditation process is all encompassing and a bit stressful on a school’s faculty and staff. The visit went well and I understand that we soon will be receiving a very positive report from ACIS. The nine member team of expert educators were all incredibly impressed with the quality of the entire educational program at Denver JDS. That kind of seal of approval is very noteworthy. 

Everyone knows that we recently let go two senior administrators. That, obviously, is not ideal and not how we wanted the year to play out. It led to many questions, rumors, and the expression of some strong feelings. But I am proud of our teaching community for coming together and refocusing on what is truly important, providing the best learning experience for our amazing students. 

When I reflect and evaluate how we are doing as a school I look at the big picture. I recognize that this is different than how many parents of school-age children look at things. Parents are often rightfully focused on the thing that happened yesterday or today. How their child did on a particular skill or test or with a particular interaction with a student or teacher. Those things do matter and I value engaging on those issues with parents and students. Call me anytime so that we can do that! 

This time of year we get some important big picture data that indicates how our school is doing at preparing our students for the real world. The data I am referring to comes in two forms. First, the college freshman, who graduated from Denver JDS a year ago, are returning home from their first year of school and many of them check in with us. We always ask them about their freshman experience and how well Denver JDS prepared them for their university experience. The feedback we are hearing is incredibly positive. (My own son Gilad had a fantastic year and finished his first year with an exceptional grade point average.) We are also looking forward to receiving MAPS test score results which have consistently shown that Denver JDS students achieve at a higher level compared to students across the country. 

Second, we learn where 12th grade students have been accepted to college. The list is very impressive, as it was last year and the year before. I want to personally invite you to Senior Graduation on Tuesday, May 21 at 7 p.m. at Temple Emanuel. Come see for yourself how amazing our graduates are and why it is so meaningful to graduate from Denver Jewish Day School!

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