AVI CHAI concluded its general grant making on December 31, 2019.

Harvard Leadership Programs through a Jewish Lens

Posted by: Guest

February 26, 2014

This summer, AVI CHAI will sponsor up to 20 day school leaders to attend one of two institutes at The Principal’s Center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The two institutes are: Improving Schools: The Art of Leadership (AOL), for leaders with 1-3 years of experience; and Leadership: An Evolving Vision (LEV), for leaders with 3+ years of experience. In addition to exposure to the speakers, strategies, and tools that Harvard has to offer, AVI CHAI is providing opportunities to help our Jewish day school cohort apply the learning to a day school context. This is done through evening sessions at the conference and structured follow-up during the 2014-15 academic year, when participants will implement a significant Jewish mission/vision project in their area of domain at their school (such as one dealing with curriculum, formal and informal instruction, or a practice like prayer). In this two-part series, participants in last year’s program discuss the program’s impact. To apply to participate this year, please visit here.
By: Noah Hartman
My participation in the Art of Leadership seminar at the Harvard Graduate School of Education Principals’ Center has impacted my own leadership and my school in profound ways. Many small Jewish day schools such as mine are not able to afford a robust administrative structure comprising a Head of School, principals, division heads, and department chairs. Those of us in leadership positions need to develop more skills and content knowledge to complement the needs of our particular schools, and the courses and workshops at the AOL seminar were a perfect fit for me.
The session that has impacted my practice the most was a presentation by Dr. Kim Marshall on teacher supervision and evaluation. His approach, which advocates for short, unannounced, but regular classroom visits, takes into account all the necessary factors. Teachers know they’re being supported by regular visits; administrators don’t need to block out hours at a time; and the common goal is constantly improving teaching and learning for our students.
Thanks to my participation in the seminar, the Jewish mission of my school has taken on a more intentional role within the framework of LRP (Jewish Literacy, Religious Purposefulness, and Peoplehood). We have even used the language of LRP to clarify what it means for us to be pluralistic—as well as to clearly and proudly articulate our strong connection with Israel and the Jewish People.
While learning with some of the country’s leading educational experts was tremendously valuable on its own, being able to study with colleagues from other Jewish day schools and a supportive and experienced mentor made the experience even more powerful. The AVI CHAI cohort gave us a chance to consider the most useful parts of our Harvard learning alongside ideas for how to enhance and implement them in a Jewish environment. It’s the marriage of the two pillars of the day school experience—exceptional academics and joyful Judaism—that the seminar brought to reality and that the cohort will continue to explore together.
Noah Hartman is Head of School at the Cohen Hillel Academy in Boston.

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