- Yoni Binus
Head's Up: Expanding Our Welcome Mat
By Yoni Binus
Hello. Good morning. Boker tov. Shalom.
Many of you have seen me at the front of the building bright and early greeting staff, students and families. At first, I typically catch up with security and campus staff, discussing what’s happening that day and getting to know our excellent campus personnel. Over the next hour or so, teachers, administrative staff, Heilicher parents, and ECC folks trickle into the building. (It’s never too soon to start getting to know the toddlers and pre-K students!) I have come to love this routine and regret when I can’t make it.
This Tuesday was one of those days that I had to miss my morning greeting time. I was fortunate to receive an invite from a local chapter of a business networking group called BNI, who meet every Tuesday morning in the activity center, right here on campus. The group consists of around 20 individuals, all from different industries, who share information and opportunities with one another in order to boost each others’ network and business potential. I was given one minute to speak about Heilicher, as all members and guests are asked to do about their businesses. Here is what I said:
“I am Yoni Binus, the Head of School at the Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School. ‘You will be proud of the person your child becomes’ is our key promise. We are an independent, K-8 Jewish school located right here on the Barry Family Campus. The independent part allows us to provide curriculum and teaching methodology (and a 7:1 student:teacher ratio) that exceeds what public education can offer. And the Jewish part provides community, character, and values that serve our students for a lifetime. This is evidenced by the incredible successes of our graduates, not only in high school, college, and the military, but also in exciting careers and community service into their adulthood.
Unfortunately, many people think private school is simply not affordable or accessible. I concede we do have a strong public education tradition here in Minnesota. But I’d contend it’s worth checking out your private school options, too. A school like Heilicher is often far more affordable and accessible than people think, particularly when you factor in potential scholarship and tuition adjustments for middle- and lower-income families. In fact, Heilicher recently received a $9 million dollar gift over 10 years to help us achieve accessibility and sustainability. Lastly, between now and November 17 we are waiving our $100 application fee for those who apply for any grade Kindergarten through eighth. If you or anyone you know might be interested in seeing what our school is all about, this is the best time to check us out.”
I share this with you for two reasons:
Our top priority as a community right now has to be getting our name out there and growing our school. Our infrastructure and program are thriving and expanding. Our commitment to inquiry-based learning, new investments in math and sciences, and evolution of our Hebrew and Judaic Studies program are signals of the strength and development of our academic program. We need more people (parents, alumni, grandparents) to spread the word about this caring school community and what makes a Heilicher education special.
I want you to know I am here for you. Whether you come in through the south (front) door each morning or not, I want to make sure you know I am available to listen, help if you need it, or just say hello because you are part of our community and our family. I will be focusing much of my time and effort on getting our name out there to new families and new students, but I also want to make sure that I am supporting you. Please feel free to reach out if anything is on your mind about the school—whether you have ideas about our awareness campaign or whether you have thoughts on how we can improve the program and experience.
This is an inspiring time for Heilicher. Due to the Redleaf Affordability & Endowment Building Challenge Grant, we have the greatest opportunity to grow in numbers and to build an endowment to support affordability and other key pillars of the school over the coming years. Please get involved and share our name, share your stories with us and with prospective families, and come in and say “hi” every once in awhile.
Photo: Yoni believes it's never too early to recruit new students.
After graduation, Heilicher alumna Simone P. encountered an uncomfortable situation at basketball camp. She decided to take a brave step to educate the camp about Jewish history related to an unintentional, yet offensive, long-standing camp practice.
New this year, on Monday mornings, we will have an All-School T’filah (prayer) service in the Dolly and Edward Fiterman Theatre. Our students will chant Torah each week. We’ll celebrate birthdays and milestones. And we’ll have a place to pray, whether that means working on our character, connecting with God, reflecting and/or rejoicing.
As a gift to her eighth-grade class for graduation, Ms. Weiss gathered student reflections and crafted them into a poem. These words of inspiration will stay with her students for years to come.