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Kicking Off the New Year

Speech given by Principal, Ingrid Goldfein, at this year's Curriculum Night

I want to welcome you to the 2023-2024 Beit Rabban school year in our new home! Woot! Woot! We could not be happier and more excited to welcome you here tonight. For those of you who don’t know me yet, I am Ingrid Goldfein, the very proud principal of Beit Rabban. I am starting my sixth year at Beit Rabban, and since I have been here, I have repeatedly said that no one chooses to be here for the shiny objects and the fancy spaces. The substance of Beit Rabban has always been what has drawn teachers and families here, and it is at the core of who we are. That is ALL still true, but let me tell you – shiny objects and fancy spaces are pretty great, too. We could not be more thrilled to take advantage of all this new space offers us.

Do you know the Jewish folktale where the person goes to the rabbi to say that their house is too small, and the rabbi tells them to bring in the chickens, and then the goats, etc...? Well – we have been living that folktale, and this year, we let out the chickens, the goats, and the cows, and boy, it feels pretty great! I am filled with gratitude for the many parents who worked tirelessly and gave their time and money to make this possible. I also want to give a special shout-out to Nicole Weiss, our COO, who has been the MVP of this move! Thank you, Nicole!! I also want to take a quick moment to thank a few other folks: Emily, Rebecca, Iliana, and Nike, for all your work in the background to make events like this possible. To Shlomit, our director of student support, who has been boots on the ground helping students get off to a great start. Thank you to Lisa Exler, Director of Jewish Studies, and Ivrit, who is my curricular partner and who works most closely with me on everything related to teaching and learning. I couldn’t do this without you. And last but certainly not least – to my partner in crime, Stephanie, our beloved head of school. Stephanie, you make everything sparkle, and I am in awe of your courageous leadership. Thank you.

Okay, back to the building. I don’t want anyone to think that now that we have this bountiful gift, we are resting on our laurels. We continue to drive full speed ahead with our mission, and I want to share a few of the substantial curricular and professional development initiatives this year.

When Devora Steinmetz founded this school many years ago, she imagined it would be a learning laboratory. This year, we welcome two teaching interns, Hannah and Maya, from the Davidson School of Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary. We have a third teaching intern, Barry, from Yeshivat Chovevai Torah. In addition, under the supervision of Shlomit, we welcome two social work interns, Rina from the Wurzweiler School at Yeshiva University and Tamar from Columbia University.

I am incredibly proud to share that we are the recipients of a grant that will afford us 170 hours of professional development in the area of differentiated instruction and meeting the needs of diverse learners.

We are introducing a new literacy program in kindergarten and first grade called EBLI - Evidence-Based Literacy Instruction. This move to a new program is the outcome of five years of significant learning and work that we have done as a faculty as we continue to serve as leaders in literacy instruction in New York-area day schools. I will invite all of you to join me in a program later this year to learn more about all of this.

On Thursday, we will train a cohort of teachers in a universal Hebrew screening assessment tool called MaDYK. This will give us more data and help us teach Ivrit more effectively.

This year, teachers have self-selected into professional learning cohorts where they will engage in an inquiry process around questions that they generated, including: How can we best document student achievement and behavior? How can we build equitable communities that affirm students' complex identities and teach them the skills to communicate and collaborate across differences in identity, privilege, and power? How can we strengthen interdisciplinary connections between Jewish and General Studies? How can we differentiate teaching according to the needs of many students in the class? How can we plan and introduce new, engaging, exciting activities and ways to learn?

I feel proud to work alongside the gifted teachers at Beit Rabban, who are dedicated, hard-working, and genuinely love what they do. The best part of every day for me is time spent in classrooms observing your children with these teachers. This week, I have seen children delighting in their hands-on, multisensory learning about Rosh Hashanah, I have seen children creating maps of our new school, making signs for our new spaces, I have seen new friendships forming, and I have seen new Gan students acclimating to their new routines and separating from parents, in some cases for the very first time.

I will end with the following: Please partner with us this year with a commitment to listen with curiosity and to engage in direct communication with teachers and the school, and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions, concerns, or positive f

eedback to share. You are the experts on your children, and we are grateful to be in partnership with you. Thank you for being here and trusting us with your children, and I want to wish everyone a Shana Tova.

May this year be filled with inspired learning, good health, and much joy!

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