Kehillah, Shalom, Yedidut, Kavod.
These Hebrew words sum up the core values of this school and the foundation on which we have built the learning experiences for each child. In the case of the graduating class of 2017, I cannot think of 4 better words to describe the children and their families.
Kehilah means community. This cohort has been a strong and cohesive community during their time at the JCC, and I believe that they have the types of relationships that will last a lifetime. At this point in the year, the students treat one another like siblings, all children of the Ahava or Keshet classroom families. Each child feels a uniquely individual comfort within the group, and the ability to be their authentic self. The beautiful part is when the parents can feel equally authentic in their relationships and gain friendships that move from convenience to kinship. The community that has been formed will extend beyond today, this summer, this year, because of what you have all experienced together.
I have to give a shout out to a few special people – Sarah Becker, Buffy Skolnick, Helen Vial, and Molly Mesibov for being awesome room parents and going above and beyond to build up and sustain the culture of Kehillah over the past 2 years. Thank you for all of your hard work!
I also want to appreciate Suanne Faber and “Science” Terry Deal. Ms. Suanne has diligently come to both old and new Pre-K classrooms each week to read library books and introduce puppets to the children. When Keshet class decided to have an impromptu Pajama Day, Ms. Suanne showed up in her jammies as well to read and snuggle with the class!
“Science” Terry has brought a love of the natural world and has made the process of science inquiry accessible to the children in both classrooms every other week for the past 2 years. When Terry returned from her annual mission trip to Haiti, she took the opportunity to teach the children about water conservation as they were able to depict the lengthy process of carrying and transferring water that the villagers would have to do.
These lessons reinforce the concept of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, that begins in the garden with Jacqui and instills a love of the earth and all its creatures. Jacqui, Miri and Penny all also have a special place in our community as our amazing specialists whose lessons of gardening, music, movement, and Judaics reinforce all of our Jewish values in a fun and appropriate environment. We are so grateful to have such an amazing community!
Shalom is the name of our school and our mission is to raise each child to form a community of peace. The peacemakers that you are about to see have all the skills ready to help build an environmentally conscious, accepting, diverse and considerate landscape in their future. And, something tells me that we are going to need all the help we can get! The 2017 Graduates can spread peace and love to even the darkest of corners with their enthusiastic energy.
Yedidut means friendships. This group is made up if the type of children who know what it takes to make a friend and what it takes to be a friend. And that is a lot of hard work! Making a friend takes bravery, courage, communication and compromise. Being a friend takes acceptance, understanding, patience and compassion. The children that you are about to celebrate have worked hard during their time here to understand and apply those character traits all day every day. We are all proud of the friends that they have become to one another, now and to many more fortunate peers in their future.
Kavod is the Hebrew word for Respect. This value is one that in order to be learned needs to be modeled and taught. One great example of Kavod is how the incredible teaching team- handled the Pre-K move this year. The teachers looked at this confusing and stressful process of unknowns and fears through the lens of the child and made the entire experience educational, exciting and interactive. I believe it strengthened the community and validated all of the mixed emotions of both families and staff. From documenting the journey in photographs, to knowing the names of each construction worker, the Pre-k showed kavod.
They showed kavod when each child chose one thing to pack up and unpack carefully in the new classroom so they too could be a part of the process. The Pre-K showed kavod to the old building by waving a fond farewell as the truck hauled it away. The Pre0K showed kavod when sprucing up the garden and outdoor patio to welcome the outdoors into as much of a learning environment now as Fran’s Field was then. The Pre-K has shown Kavod all around Asheville with great behavior on field trips, sending Thank You notes to community helpers, participating in events at the synagogue and Elder Day Club, and taking action in social justice for many non-profit partners. I am looking forward to seeing the children show each other kavod and encouragement as they become proficient swimmers this summer as well.
We thank you for the community, peace, friendship and respect that you value and model for your children. We are thankful to you— the families— for allowing us to participate in the awesome responsibility of caring for your children. We have truly enjoyed knowing each and every one of these unique and beautiful people.
As I like to say, thank you for sharing your children with us!