R AVSAK’s executive director, Marc Kramer, recently noted how frequently people who are asked to prepare a d’var Torah will comment with amazement that the text “speaks to them,” regardless of the timing or subject matter of that text. While we do not claim such miraculous qualities for HaYidion, you will undoubtedly find that this issue also “speaks” to you, striking chords that resonate with your own experiences as day school leaders, both professional and volunteer.
For waters shall burst forth in the desert, streams in the wilderness. Isaiah 35:6.
The messianic vision that Isaiah foresees includes the blind seeing, the deaf hearing, and the lame not only walking but leaping. And as if that weren’t enough, the desert blooms. These miracles are not static but dynamic, enabling the flourishing of B’nai Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael.
“How wonderful it is that nobody needs to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
Anne Frank (1929-1945)
How right, in so many ways, was Anne Frank – even in the responsibility of day school Boards and Board leadership. This article focuses on three traditional elements of Board service – Work, Wisdom and Wealth – and attempts to illustrate how day school Boards can stretch beyond the expected “3 W’s” to levels that inspire each of us to think about how we can improve our day school world. It asks how we as day schools can move beyond the basic definitions of work, wisdom, and wealth so that we create new opportunities for our Board members – opportunities that create exceptional value and that dramatically advance our mission.
In my last article (September, 2006), I discussed the process of profiling and building a Board and its impact on the success of a new school. However, it is not only when a new non-profit institution is being formed that the Board is critical to its successful fulfillment of the mission. In fact, it may be even more important and a greater challenge as the school strives to maintain its focus and re-invent itself over and over again in pursuit of excellence and its vision.
A rticles on workplace performance- that is, getting the most and the best out of employees – crowd nearly every business and trade magazine each month, with more columns focused on “low performers” than seemingly anything else. Without reading a single article, stereotypes about the working world could lead us to their foregone conclusions: In the corporate world, low performing employees get “fixed or fired;” in the non-profit world, low performers are subjected to endless professional development and, thanks to the Peter Principle, eventually move on to greener pastures.
Moving to a new community to become the head of a Jewish community day school is exciting and challenging, but can be overwhelming personally and professionally. Heads experience the thrill of finding a school that is a “good fit” for their education and experience and lay leadership, staff and students are excited, also. Everyone wants the new relationship to succeed.
Adapted from the NAIS Trustee Handbook: A Guide to Effective Governance for Independent School Boards, Ninth Edition.
In his best-selling book, Good to Great, management guru Jim Collins talks about “getting the right people on the bus.” By this he means that a company’s success is not the result of filling all the job vacancies, but by ensuring that the most appropriate people for each job are filling the roles… and that they can work together as a team. This is vitally important for independent school Boards as well. Every Board seat should be filled by competent and committed individuals who give of their time, talents, and treasure.
Paul Shaviv is in his tenth year as Head of the Anne and Max Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto – ‘TanenbaumCHAT’, the Community high school of the Greater Toronto Jewish community. During that time the school has doubled its enrolment, from 750 to over 1,500; more than doubled its staff (now just over 200); undertaken a $9m refurbishment and expansion of one campus, with a further $10m refurbishment now planned; created a complete second branch north of Toronto, which this September moved from rented premises into a state-of-the-art $30m new building; and undertaken a complete Administrative restructuring. The school operations budget increased from $9m to more than $23m. Here he reflects on change in school organizations.
A disturbing website highlighting the “power” of Jews in the current federal executive branch asks the following questions:
Before getting too far into this commentary, let me make sure of full disclosure: This article does not purport to represent any kind of scientific or organized study of the experience of Jewish day schools and interim Heads of School and their relationship with their Boards of Trustees. Rather, my intent is to share with you some of our experiences from the past year at the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy in Overland Park, Kansas (a suburb of Kansas City), as seen through the eyes of the Chair of the Board of Trustees.
A Board retreat can be a very effective tool for helping the Board of a community day school determine why the school exists, what its vision for the future is and how to create the roadmap for that vision. Because the Board’s time is precious and limited, a successful retreat should be well planned and well facilitated.
In the aftermath of every “non-profit mismanagement” news story is the question: Why didn’t the Board do something? Yet the Boards of the non-profits recently headlined with scandals such as outlandish compensation for executive directors, the use of organizational funds for personal luxuries, or nepotism did not do any less than most non-profit Boards. The reality is that most non-profit Boards are ineffective in their governing function. Only when gross mismanagement is discovered does a failure at governance come to the fore. Sometimes the failure does not involve personal scandal but reveals organizational laxity, such as an organization using funds raised for one purpose for other program areas.
Each fall, the seventh grade students in my Jewish social studies class begin the year by participating in the Jewish Court of All Time online simulation. JCAT is an innovative learning adventure that is a joint venture between the University of Cincinnati’s...[More]
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