Gesher Summer 2019 Update
I often find that friends and colleagues I speak to during the summer assume that either I am not working right now (because I am in the Education field) or that I am working but that not much is going on. In fact, that perception is so widespread that even many faculty members don’t understand what the summer months look like at a school like Gesher. I’d like to take this opportunity to let you know that while many of our faculty members are indeed enjoying a well-deserved vacation, there is a TON of work going on here right now, all in preparation for launching another, even more outstanding year of learning for our students in 2019-2020.
Some faculty members are hard at work on curriculum writing and planning, and some are moving classrooms. Some are engaged in intensive professional development and study as they reflect, grow, and build their pedagogical and leadership skills. Our Administrative Team is engaged in one of their busiest times of the year, as they complete new software implementation, demanding financial auditing to close our fiscal year, purchasing supplies, maintaining and upgrading our physical plant, building a complex academic class schedule, communicating with parents about the coming year, and this just scratches the surface.
In the area of Admissions, we have are having the busiest summer of my tenure at Gesher, as inquiries, tours, and applications continue thanks to the recent strategic investments we’ve made in internal and external marketing practices, as well as thanks to our many Parent Ambassadors who keep spreading the good word about our school. Our Head Search is also active building a talented pool of applicants, and I look forward to the next steps in this healthy transition as well. While our numbers are not final, at this point it looks like our brand new Junior Kindergarten, by all accounts a wildly successful new program this past year, may almost double in size in the coming year. This is crucial for the school’s growth, as the program provides a far more reliable pipeline into our Kindergarten than we’ve ever established through external recruitment efforts. We can already see this beginning to pay off and improve Gesher’s long-term size and health, as our incoming Kindergarten class continues to grow as well, and will likely be nearly 50% more highly enrolled than it was in the past two years.
Many in the broader community know that Gesher spent many years with declining enrollment (like many Independent schools and Jewish Day Schools experienced both locally and nationally since 2007). Rebuilding the pipeline of our youngest students is strong evidence of the renewed health of our school, and provides long-term stability that our entire community can rely upon. We are very proud of the hard work that has gone into this turnaround, and believe it is the result of professionalization throughout our organization over the past several years.
If you are a parent in this school, you can look at the returning and incoming faculty and staff (bio’s available soon on our website!) and be proud and confident that your children’s crucial elementary school years are in the hands of caring, skilled, experienced educators who are supported by outstanding administrators and a Student Support Team that is stronger than ever before at Gesher. If you are an alumni or alumni parent, you can rest assured that the wonderful education you received at Gesher is still growing and improving annually, and we are proud to have alumni children in our Gan this year, as well as our first alumni Board Member on board.
If you are a community supporter, professional colleague, donor, friend, or otherwise connected to Gesher, you should celebrate! Your support of this school is paying off in so many important ways! Last year we graduated 16 outstanding young Jewish adults who are going on to become Jewish leaders in our community. We continue to actively seek productive partnerships in order to bolster Jewish education of every kind in Northern Virginia, including Israel education, adult learning with Melton, partnership with the Israeli-American Council, Federation initiatives and so much more than I could ever list in this blog.
So yeah, we take a few days off at the end of the school year, and maybe a couple more right before everyone comes back…but mostly we are still right here, eagerly working hard on our passion: to build the best future for our Jewish community…one child at a time. What are you up to this summer?