- Yoni's 360
Yoni’s 360°: Teacher Professional Development in Summer Prepares Heilicher for Strong Year
By Yoni Binus
A core outcome of a Heilicher education is our graduates’ drive to be lifelong learners. Our alumni go on to high school with the skills to navigate the rest of their lives with ethical standards, an inquiry focus, and ever-expanding thirst for knowledge. Our school’s ability to achieve this starts with the mindset and modeling of our staff, who continuously develop their own skills as professional instructors, guides, and mentors.
This summer, informed by our strategic vision and largely made possible by generous donors, 22 Heilicher teachers and administrators were able to attend significant professional development workshops, courses, programs, and retreats.
Columbia Teachers College Writing Institute
Three teachers and an administrator headed to New York to attend training for today’s leading writing program. This August, a trainer will come from Teachers College to work with all general studies staff, assisting us in further implementing this program across all grades. As we did for implementation of STEAM (which continues into its second year this year), this will be an immersive and ongoing training for all faculty. We have learned that continued professional development and ongoing support are critical to the success of full-scale curriculum implementation. You will be able to learn more how this writing instruction methodology helps your child throughout the year.
Math In Focus
Seven teachers attended professional development for instruction using Math In Focus, as we head into year three of this new math curriculum. We transitioned to Math In Focus because of its proven results in increasing math achievement, its built-in constructs for differentiation, and its focus on a students’ progressively understanding concepts through concrete and abstract lessons. This curriculum fits perfectly in our inquiry-based education model.
Two teachers and one administrator attended a conference on STEAM. This year, we will be elevating STEAM across the grades and all disciplines. We are very excited to open our Lower School Makerspace, an engineering lab about which you will learn much more this fall. We are one of very few schools to have a Makerspace devoted to the elementary grades.
Mechon Hadar: Fluency In Jewish Text and Practice
Two administrators attended the program in New York this year. The Heilicher educational experience strives for excellence in all academic areas, and this program is a pathway for pluralistic, community day schools to add depth of content and skills to understanding and analyzing Jewish text and practice. This year, we are focusing on increased offerings and differentiation across all grades in Hebrew and Jewish Studies, as well as a significantly increased focus in middle school on how to apply your Judaism in your life and outside the walls of the school.
Teacher Institute in Israel
Two teachers traveled to Israel to work with a foundation on building and maintaining lasting school-wide Judaic Studies initiatives. Our goal is to continue developing tools to integrate Jewish values and practice into the fabric of our everyday lives at the school. School-wide programs that span across grades and weave together Judaic and General Studies are one great way to help students ‘live Jewishly.’
Independent School Management Advancement Academy
Three administrators attended this intensive program that was held right here in Minneapolis. Advancement covers a broad range of topics that are key to the success of any school, such as Development and Endowment, Admissions, and Marketing. Heilicher is poised to continue to strengthen and grow as a school. As we (and you) continue to spread the positive word about the school, we will be honing our messaging, expanding our digital marketing program, and continuing to expand our fundraising efforts to maximize our potential.
Independent School Association of the Central States: New Teacher’s Institute
Finally, one teacher attended this foundational program designed for new teachers or teachers in the earlier part of their careers to work on curriculum development, classroom management, technology integration, and work-life balance. Our accrediting body (ISACS) not only ensures that we are meeting and exceeding the high standards of all our independent school cohort in the Central States, but provides ongoing training and professional networking opportunities as well.
As you can see, it was quite an exciting summer full of growth, learning, and preparation for the school year. Our mission is to serve an excellent academic program across all disciplines and grade levels, while instilling rich Jewish values in our students. Graduates need a broad range of knowledge and skills to be ethical ‘action-takers’ and critical thinkers with a lifelong drive to inquire and learn. Throughout the year, you will be able to follow along with me, through this blog, as we look at the progress of each of these initiatives and see the students grow and flourish in the classrooms and beyond.
See you all soon.
Thank You To Donors Who Made These Programs Possible
Fionnuala Ni Aolain and Oren Gross
Beckie Skelton and Shep Harris
Leonard and Betty Parker Endowment Fund
Judy and Jerel Shapiro
Davida Cytron and Ted Smetana
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.
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.
This spring Heilicher welcomed Lynn Lyons, a psychotherapist and Licensed Clinical Social Worker, to speak to the community about "How to Break the Worry Cycle." Heilicher alumna Ruthie P. shares her thoughts on the night in a recent article in The Echo, St. Louis Park High School's newspaper.