- Lower Division
By Elana Shapiro, Lower Division Principal
Let’s face it. This. Pandemic. Is. Hard. It is full of uncertainty and unknowns. Quite honestly, I do not love uncertainty and unknowns. Here at Denver JDS, we spent our summer break living within that space of uncertainty. At times we weren’t even sure if we would be able to begin the year in-person. There were times when our team would spend long days mapping out every detail of what a day or a week would look like, and then we’d learn about new research or a change in state guidelines. We would often shake our heads and say, “Ok, back to the drawing board.” I took a lot of deep breaths. I kept reminding myself, “We have done hard things - we can do hard things,” as we envisioned all of the ways we would deliver our top-notch education in a manner that would be safe for our community.
Some of the weight of summer finally started to lift a bit during our first few days back on campus. It has been a pretty incredible start to the school year in the Lower Division. The children are excited to see each other and their teachers, and happy to be together again. We are continually impressed by our students’ resilience and ability to adapt to new protocols and safety measures. School may not look exactly the same as it did before COVID, but the heart of our Denver JDS school community is still beating strong!
Each year, we begin Community Week with a K-5 community read. This year, we selected the book I am Human by Susan Verde and Peter Reynolds. This book focuses on empathy and the power of YET*. Our students inspired us during these discussions with their ideas about kindness and compassion for others and for themselves. They brainstormed about the things they cannot do YET and want to work on. They set goals and made plans to achieve them. They acknowledged that many endeavors are neither simple nor easy. Perseverance and hard work pay off. Failing at something the first time is merely a First Attempt In Learning. Watching our students embrace this work under the extraordinary circumstances of this school year’s start has made every moment of planning (and replanning) worth it. It reminded me again that we, and our children, can do hard things.
I know this year will continue to be full of new and hard things. COVID has forced us to re-think many of the things we do and required us to incorporate new and innovative ways of educating students. We have adopted new safety procedures. We have had to get creative in order to ensure the best learning environment possible during this unprecedented time.
We are grateful for your partnership through all of this. We know you are happy to have your children back at school and we are happy they are with us again! The words of support and gratitude from you mean more to me and our faculty than you may realize. And, I want to recognize that you are doing hard things too. Entrusting a school with your children every day in a global pandemic is hard. Sitting in a hot carpool line at the end of a long day is hard. Watching your children enter a building when you can’t go with them is hard. Learning the news that someone in our community has been diagnosed with COVID is hard.
I, and everybody else here at Denver Jewish Day School, want you to know that we see you working through all of this and doing hard things just like we are. We will always be dedicated to doing everything in our power to support your child’s well being. We will do this with a growth mindset, always pursuing the solution we have not reached YET for the challenges we face. We’ve worked on our pick up system to make improvements after the first day of school did not go as well as we would have liked. This work doesn’t end with carpool. Your constructive feedback and willingness to dialogue with us will continue to be an important component in our school’s achieving our potential now and always.
The Jewish New Year for me is a time of introspection and goal setting. This year, more than ever, I will approach Rosh HaShanah by pushing myself beyond my comfort zone and embracing the possibilities inherent in the uncertain and unknown rather than dreading them. I will look forward to opening my mind to new solutions that my pre-COVID life never presented, and I am confident that our students will show us that this pandemic is no match for their creativity, kindness, and perseverance in this school year too. I can’t wait to see what they accomplish.