The Growing Garden Academy this year is centered on the theme of community. Why? Because a sense of community is woven into everything we do as teachers, parents and students.
Community is the way in which we give value to everything the children learn, by connecting the pillars in their lives: their family, friends, neighbors, teachers and studies, both inside and outside the school walls.
In fact, the community connects every person, from the rabbi at the synagogue to the postman that delivers the mail.
Of course, at the center of every community is a school. The school represents the future; it’s our job to teach the students, who will one day grow up to create their own communities with the same value systems that we instill.
Community is also the buildings and the spaces around us, from street signs to construction sites. In other words, community covers the physical, the spiritual, the economic and the spatial world in which our children live.
Ultimately, by ingraining this sense of community into our children, we at the Growing Garden Academy want our students to see that everything they do makes a difference and affects others around them – we rely on one another to succeed.
In the Jewish belief, there is a sense of concentric circles. First the smaller community, which consists of the child’s immediate family, then another circle for extended family, then friends, their enrichment classes, the city, and so on as the circles get wider. All of these communities hold importance to the child and who he or she will become.
At the heart of every Jewish community is our Jewish tradition. It’s this sense of tradition and legacy that has continued for thousands of years and will be carried on through our children and their children.
As a Jewish school, the Growing Garden Academy represents that place in the community where families can congregate and connect to invest in our Jewish traditions and its value for our kids. These values we teach in school will affect the choices our children make and how they process and connect with the world, even at a very young age.
Judaism says that Hashem created each person for a specific time, place and reason: There are no accidents; everything has its place. Therefore, we see each child as a piece of the puzzle, and without one piece, the community is not complete.
Community is a big part of the everyday secular curriculum as well. For example, Ms. Blake’s first grade class has a daily morning meeting as part of the Responsive Classroom ideology. It’s a time where students greet each other, share news, and do a lively activity that reinforces skills the class is working on. The session ends with a morning message from the teacher. The activity not only gives the students a strong sense of community, it gets them excited for their day of learning.
Each Friday Ms. Blake also leads a Classroom Community, a safe space for students to express any feelings or issues that have arisen during the week. It’s also the teacher’s opportunity to address any concerns she has had during the week so that they can work through the issues as a class.
At the Growing Garden Academy, it’s our responsibility to provide the child with everything they need to succeed in the world, so each can be the best possible person they can be. This includes encouraging mitzvot and actions that connect them to Hashem and the people that surround them – to make the community the best that it can be.