Last Sunday I travelled to New York’s Upper West Side with fellow day school leaders, parents, alumni, teachers, and students to represent our community and our Jewish Day Schools at the Columbus Ave. Street Fair. Our location could not have been more ideal at 75th and Columbus, and the weather held up nicely despite the forecast for rain.
We coordinated our booth to be next to a Kosher food truck selling bbq fresh from West Orange, and together we distributed “Make the Smart Move” balloons and cool swag to our New York City neighbors. The real treat was meeting young families who were interested in learning more about us.
Who are you? What school are you here from? Where are you located?
We surprised people by answering that we were not there to speak for one school, but a collection of schools that collaborate. What a source of pride to share information about our community-wide Tuition MAX program to tackle affordability, and share information about all of our excellent, award-winning institutions.
When the Day School Council started in 2006, the local Jewish day schools were barely speaking to each other. Thanks to the vision of the Gottesman family and key leaders, the schools now collaborate on many levels. The Heads of School, finance, marketing and admissions professionals, senior administration, and teachers regularly meet to share best practices and joint programming.
This process of slow trust building culminated in the experience that those 20 volunteers had on Sunday. Ask any of them and they will share with you the palpable feeling of excitement. That a Rabbi from one school can proudly share information about all schools is truly inspiring. That a parent volunteer from one school can seamlessly lead a family to the admissions director of another school is equally exciting. That we can answer the question “What school are you from?” with the answer “We are from the diverse community of Greater MetroWest, New Jersey. Let me tell you about our four excellent Jewish Day Schools,” is a precedent for community building and collaboration that we can all be enormously proud of.