Portrait of a Gesher Grad

Last week I wrote about how important it is for educators and students to understand where it is they are headed in any unit of learning, so that everyone can clearly see whether or not goals and outcomes have been met.  This is true at every level.  It is important for us to know where we should be at the end of the next hour-long meeting, and just as important for us to understand our goals for the end product of years of work.

As we prepared for our 10-year accreditation visit from the Virginia Association of Independent Schools back in October, one of our tasks was to clearly articulate our own goals for our students when they graduate from Gesher.  Our faculty and staff worked collaboratively to identify what is often called a “portrait of a graduate.”  We came up with the following items:


I’m very proud of the work we did together, and proud of the product – it offers every member of our community guidance for academic and social-emotional learning from a Jewish lens.  It accurately reflects the core values of our school, and provides parents, students, and professionals with a shared language with which we can discuss learning and decision-making.  Finally, it offers our entire community a clear picture of the final product of a Gesher JDS education.

This is not just a “head-in-the-clouds” exercise – as we’ve gathered data on our alumni from the past 36 years, we’ve been thrilled to find them engaged in meaningful work, community, relationships, and leadership to an outstanding extent.  Faculty and parents who have sent their children to Gesher should be proud of the impact they are having on the world.  I wish this for my children as well – I hope that when Gesher interviews them in 10, 20, and 30 years they find adults who are living examples of the vision expressed in the portrait above.

This Shabbat, I encourage you to have a conversation with your loved ones about what you wish for them in 5, 10, or 20 years.  Perhaps capturing your shared vision will help you make decisions that move you towards realizing it.

Shabbat Shalom,