It’s early morning and I’m watching New York City come to life outside the window of my dorm room at 121st and Broadway. Why? DSLTI Rules.
Last night I had dinner at a kosher burger joint with 2 members of my DSLTI cohort who have become close friends. Our table looked like the premise of a really bad rabbi joke– a Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox rabbi are out to dinner… But instead it was a celebration of friendship founded on mutual respect, shared experience, and dedication to the field of Jewish Day School education. Why? DSLTI Rules.
This year I went through the experience of having a 360 review. I got candid feedback from my Head of School, administrative colleagues, people in my department, as well as other members of the faculty. I tried to honor their feedback by embracing it and using it to make a plan for professional growth. Spoiler alert: I’m still in progress! Why? DSLTI Rules.
Jewish Day Schools are complicated entities. We each have our own culture, our own community, our own strengths and challenges. Previously I had deep concerns about the state of the Jewish Day School field– do we have the leadership, the dedication, the resources, and the vision to carry forward our collective work? Now I know. DSLTI Rules.
The best teachers are the best learners. Were DSLTI to be based solely on the premise that our “mentors” were the teachers and “fellows” the students then the program would collapse. Instead, DSLTI creates a community where voices with varied backgrounds and levels of experience share generously, listen attentively, and argue freely with one another. DSLTI Rules.
One of life’s challenges is that as we get older it can be more difficult to establish lifelong friendships. Our professional roles, the demands of our primary responsibilities– these things rightfully require the fullness of our being. That DSLTI is an 18 month fellowship that places relationships at the center means that I “graduate” with 20 new friends. What makes someone a friend? The fact that their heart breaks if my heart breaks. The fact that if I need them, they’ll be there. The fact that I can turn to them to celebrate successes and learn from failures. The fact that their happiness contributes to my happiness. The fact that we can be real with one another even though we might, one day, compete for the same professional position. Why do I have this group of amazing new friends? DSLTI Rules.
Jewish Day Schools need to be, without exception, transformational institutions in the life of our individual communities and the larger landscape of Jewish education and Jewish life. In order to get there we need to guarantee that our individual schools meet the highest standards of professionalism and excellence. Together we need to address certain critical issues like the cost of tuition and the fact that many Jewish families cannot afford or have no interest in Jewish Day Schools. DSLTI’s clear focus on Day School leadership speaks to the heart of the matter. Empowering the next (and the next) generation of Jewish Day School leaders is a high impact way of advancing the causes of excellence and professionalism within individual schools as well as raising the profile of the Day School movement in North America. DSLTI Rules.
I’m a different person now than I was when I first entered DSLTI. There are plenty of reasons for this, many of which aren’t directly connected to DSLTI. But the fact that DSLTI has been a consistent presence during this period of personal and professional growth means that I have a framework for reflecting on how I’ve changed. Bi-weekly calls with my mentor, summer institutes and mid-year meetings, phone calls and emails with other DSLTI fellows– these touch points have helped me to see myself more clearly. If only because of these opportunities for self-reflection and to assess my own learning I’d have to say, “DSLTI Rules.”
This post is meant to serve as a personal testimonial for DSLTI. Could I say more about how DSLTI Rules? Absolutely. But if anyone wants to learn more about the specifics of the program I’m happy to chat. DSLTI Rules.