Think about the feeling you had the first time you held your child...or when you summited that fourteener...or when you took a bite of a perfect pizza or scoop of ice cream. You might be able to try to explain the feeling. You could talk about a feeling of joy or contentment. You could mention a feeling of awe and wonder. You could access all of the words in the dictionary and still find your vocabulary lacking because there is really no way to explain those feelings to someone who has never experienced them.
When people ask us about Einstein Academy and want to know what makes our school truly unique, there is lots we can tell them. We can tell them about how students use social entrepreneurship as a framework, working alongside experts to solve real-world problems of today and tomorrow through a fully integrated program. We can discuss how social-emotional growth is emphasized through cultivating empathy for ourselves, our classmates, and our greater community. We can share that teachers use differentiated and personalized learning in order to support and challenge all students based on their personalized learning profiles. We can mention that students act as facilitators of their learning, mastering the state standards while delving more deeply into areas of their own particular interest and sustaining their own inquiry. We can also talk about how Jewish values and culture form the basis of our program, using texts and lessons from Judaism to make personal meaning and inspire action while strengthening Jewish identity and connection to Israel.
But none of this describes that feeling you’d get from being in our school.
Ultimately, our goal is for Einstein Academy to extend beyond the bullet points and facts that exist on an admissions brochure so that anyone who walks in the door immediately knows what a special place it is.
Teacher Heather Wolpert-Gawron said, “The walls of a school should reflect possibility. The halls should honor dreams. The rooms to help prepare for them.” Einstein Academy is such a place.
A place where learning is fun and engaging. A place where every student has a place and is celebrated. A place where the feeling of community is palpable and visible. A place that, just like holding your child or climbing a mountain or tasting something amazing, cannot be explained and must be felt.
And, for us, that is what makes Einstein Academy truly different. Yes, we teach a second language at an early age and have amazing teachers and feature a fully interdisciplinary curriculum, all of which contributes to excellence.
But it’s so much more than that. It’s the smile that lights up a student’s face when she enters the building. It’s the excitement a teacher has to enter the classroom. It’s the feeling of support and welcoming a parent has each time he references the school.
Thomas Sergiovanni, professor of education and expert in culture, stated, “The heart and soul of school culture is what people believe, the assumptions they make about how school works.”
Our assumptions are based on valuing students and putting them in the center. On honoring parents and their role in their children’s lives. On supporting our teachers to continue growing. On working with everyone in our community to make Einstein Academy a magical place.
We can try our best to create web content and blogs to describe that magic, but, ultimately, it’s just something you’ll have to experience!