Head of School Corner Archive
Tuesday, June 05, 2018
The Lippman School has been recognized for our work in creating North American First People’s Day in Akron by two prestigious national associations.
First, our school was featured in the summer edition of the National Association of Independent School’s magazine. This is a quarterly journal that features a handful of schools (less than 10) in each of its publications. The membership of NAIS is over 1500 of the nation’s most elite private schools. It is a significant honor that this association has recognized the good work of our school.
Second, The National Council for Teaching of the Social Studies has invited The Lippman School to present this learning module to their membership at their annual conference in November. When news of our groundbreaking initiative in Akron reached the press, Terry Cherry, who is the President of NCTSS visited out school to meet with us to learn about how we had accomplished this work. In our meeting with him, he called this project, “some of the best in social studies education he has seen” and at that time invited us to present at their national conference. We learned recently that the conference planning committee has accepted our proposal present a “clinic” which is a three hour session that will allow educators from around the nation to learn about our experience here in Akron.
As our students return from Montana tonight from their experience on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation and Yellowstone National Park, I want to congratulate the 7th/8th grade class whose work with local retired Judge Marvin Shapiro and Curriculum Director/Humanities Teacher Matt Russ is being recognized as a model of educational excellence. This learning partnership with The Northern Cheyenne Nation is one example of how the “Global Perspective” of The Lippman School can lead to action and social change.
Our school uses the wisdom of the Jewish people and tradition as guiding principals for our school programs and how we help students develop a global perspective. There are many ways that this is exhibited through this partnership but one that resonates in particular is the concept that the Jewish people have lived for thousands of years as a minority. In our tradition and as we learn through the Torah (the five books of Moses) a small tribe of Israelites had to work against prevailing cultural and political forces to maintain our language, care for a sacred homeland and keep traditions alive in when facing peril. In today’s world, few of us connect with a sense of peoplehood or the positive elements of tribalism. When our students were immersed in the sacred homeland and traditions of the Northern Cheyenne tribe, they made connections to their work with Akron City Council and their own learning experiences at Lippman. They understand how difficult it has been for this tribe to maintain their traditions when faced with years of oppression. They also understand that through the struggle of maintaining identity a people can thrive again. And in fact, by helping our community recognize the contributions of native people in our land we are helping to shine a positive light on the people who our country has too often marginalized.
As we look at the end of this year, we have much to celebrate as a community which we will do together at 2:00 on Thursday when our 8th grade students graduate. We also have much to look forward to in the coming school year, including a historic moment when Akron celebrates its first, “First People’s Day” on October 1. I hope to see you at both of these wonderful milestones.
Head of School
Friday, June 01, 2018
I am writing this Friday note on an airplane, returning from Montana where our 7/8th Grade Students have completed the first part of their 7 day trip to Montana. The first half of the trip was 4 days on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, with our friends from this amazing tribe. When our student arrived they set up camp, constructing the tipi of Burt Medicine Bull which would be their home for the next 2 nights. What an honor, and experience to have a respected elder of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, guide us in the construction of his personal lodge (what the Cheyenne call a Tipi) -used for camping, ceremony and important family moments- for our students to sleep in in his homeland.
On day two, we journeyed to Burt’s sister’s home, Alena Buffalo Spirit where our students prepared and then experienced a sweat lodge. Tribal members use this, and many other sweat lodges on the reservation for healing, ceremony and socializing. The experience was powerful, as Burt Medicine Bull chanted in Cheyenne and spoke in the lodge about how his people have used these experiences to maintain their culture, pass down tradition and pray for people and their community.
On day three, Philip Whiteman, who is one of the traditional Chiefs, and like Burt, a longtime friend of our family and school, took us to a sacred and prophetic landmark named Deer Medicine Rocks. This rock tells of the prophecy that Sitting Bull of the Lakota had predicting the defeat of General Custer at the Battle of The Little Bighorn. The rocks also tell of the story of the Cheyenne people and their connection to earth, animals, and humanity. Students left this experience with a new appreciation for these great people, their history and spirituality. As Philip shared, it is our connection to the resources of our earth that remind us of our ability to create a better future than our history of conflict, war and exploitation.
On day four, Lynwood Tall Bull, another Cheyenne elder who is an authority on local/tribal ethnobotany took our students on a hike to an ancient buffalo jump and pointed out the many edible plants on the reservation and their nutritional and medicinal properties. He spoke about the importance of the buffalo to his people and how they have lived in harmony with their land and are thankful for how the earth provides so much for their people.
The end of their time on the reservation included a trip to the battlefield where the Northern Cheyenne people, Arapaho and Sioux defeated General Custer and the cavalry he led against them. There they learned that through a series of broken treaties and a quest for gold in the Black Hills, the United States government carried out a series of military actions, some deemed massacres, that led to tribes being confined to reservations.
You can learn about all of this though textbooks and websites, but to learn it with these amazing people is something our students will never forget. It will positively shape the friendships they have with their classmates, how they see the diversity of our country and its history, and provide a unique perspective about the connection that other people have to their traditions and the earth.
Now, they are off to Yellowstone National Park to explore this important national park during this once-in-a lifetime opportunity.
Have a great weekend,
Head of School
Friday, March 09, 2018
You will be receiving a letter about a significant challenge grant our school has received (a copy is attached). A Lippman School family has pledged $10,000 in matching donations for gifts received in the month of March to support the development of our partnership with the Dali School in Foshan, China. This programs impacts each child in the school through teacher exchange, something we intend to make an annual part of our curriculum. This challenge grant is crucial for our school to develop and maintain important programs like our sister school partnership, it also shows our community how dedicated our parents are to this unique and important learning opportunity. While not every family can make such an additional investment in our school, beyond their tuition dollars, every family can make some gift –no gift is to small and all are tax deductible- to help us meet this match! Donations can be made on-line at: http://www.thelippmanschool.org/MarchMadness, or by sending a check or calling the school so we can process a credit card payment.
There are two important learning experiences that we want to invite parents or friends of families to participate in this month.
Wednesday, March 21st at 6:15, we will be viewing a movie called “ScreenAgers.” Following the movie Rabbi Josh Brown, Rabbi at Temple Israel and a Lippman parent, will moderate a discussion related to topics in this award-winning film that probes into the vulnerable corners of family life and depicts messy struggles over social media, video games and academics. The film offers solutions on how we can help our kids navigate the digital world. We are inviting parents and our middle school students to this event. Parents, middle school and high school students from the community are invited. The event is free and a light dinner will be served. Reservations are required. The flyer is attached, please share.
Friday, March 23rd at 1:30 in the Shaw JCC Auditorium we are inviting up to two “Very Important People” (grandparent, aunt, uncle, friend of the family, or mom/dad) to join us for a Passover Experience. The entire school will come together to learn about elements of the Passover holiday as well as some of the important Jewish customs and universal values that we experience during this time. While not mandatory for students to have a V.I.P., we hope someone from your family can join us. A form will be going home with your child today so that you can let us know who will be participating.
Have a great weekend,
Friday, February 02, 2018
It has been a terrific first week with our Chinese teachers-in-residence, Mr. Mau and Nicole (her English name). They are here from our sister school, the Dali Experimental Elementary School, Foshan City, China. All Lippman students have participated in learning Kung Fu forms with Mr. Mau, and many of our students have learned about Chinese culture and arts from Nicole. By the end of next week, every class will have completed lessons with both of our teachers from China.
I want to invite you to meet our Chinese teachers and see what they have accomplished with our students. Next Friday, right after drop-off at 8:45 AM, we will hold an all school assembly in the atrium in which our students will demonstrate some element of what they have learned this week. I apologize that this only allows you a short time to make arrangements to attend. This first time teacher exchange and only one week of planning did not allow us to provide this experience until we spent time working and learning together with our Chinese partners. Their eagerness to show our community their work has inspired us to put this together on short notice. We will try to record the experience for those who are unable to attend.
Another opportunity for you to join us will be at 6:30 PM on Wednesday, February 7th for a Tai Chi experience and to learn more about Chinese culture and our educational partnership. This is free and open to the public with an RSVP to email@example.com or by calling the school. This program is intended for adults.
It was great to see so many parents at our Winter Bash! We had record attendance and it was a great night.
Thank you Co-Chairs Hanna Lemerman, Jen Shkolnik and Nora Glaubermen and Bash Coordinator, Alisa Reinbolt!
Have a great weekend,
Head of School
Friday, January 26, 2018
Empowered –a term some schools use to describe how their schools help develop students as leaders.
At Lippman, we do this in many ways, let me share two with you:
This week, each student from our 7/8th Grade class was given the chance to stand before the Akron City Council and delivered testimony to lobby for the creation of an annual "First People's Day" on the first Monday of October in Akron, Ohio. If the resolution passes, it will become a law.
The law would recognize and honor the history and culture of Native Americans and contributions by tribal nations to the development of the American continent, as well as acknowledge the efforts to preserve this history in Akron, Summit County, Ohio, and the United States.
The invitation to present at City Council was the result of several years of work by all of our students who helped create an “App” under the guidance of our Innovation and Learning Specialist, John Bennett, to help our community walk on the Portage Path and learn more about our local native history. This project is another way that our school has developed a reputation as a leader in cross-cultural education.
Below is a link to that app –please note it is built for viewing on a smart phone as it is meant to be used “in the field” (it will look a little large on a PC). This section of the app has videos and several links to local press our school and students have received in recognition for their hard work. If you have time, please watch the 17 minute video of our students’ testimony at Akron City Council.
Many members of the Lippman community, near and far, contributed to this educational and humanitarian experience. Lippman students prepared the resolution with Humanities Teacher/Curriculum Coordinator Matt Russ and volunteer retired Judge Marvin Shapiro. Students met with Councilperson Marilyn Keith, and staff have collaborated with Lippman Board Member John York, city attorney in the Civil Division, and David Lieberth, President of the Summit County Historical Society. Northern Cheyenne representatives Otto Braided Hair and student Bryan Fisher flew in from Montana to speak before Akron City Council.
Another story of empowerment:
Recently, three 1st and 2nd grade students scheduled a meeting with me to talk about an idea they have developed. Inspired by our school’s partnership with local homeless shelter Haven of Rest, these students want to sell their toys to earn money which they will donate to support the homeless shelter’s efforts in our community. I told them that I would reach out to our community to find a volunteer (parent or other) to help them collect/sell items on E-Bay or some other internet forum. Let me know if you are interested in helping these three students, and our 1st and 2nd grade class with this wonderful project.
Finally, over the next two weeks at Lippman, two teachers from our sister school in China, the Dali Experimental School in Guangdong, China will be our “teachers in residence.” There will be no swim during these two weeks as PE classes will be taught in Chinese and students will learn Kung Fu. Another teacher will teach about Chinese culture in English to all students in the school. We are extremely excited about hosting these teachers and know that this will be a tremendous addition to our Global Studies Curriculum.
Please spread the word about a free community learning moment. The P.E. teacher who will be working with all of our students will offer an adult Tai Chi experience on Wednesday, February 7th at 6:30. We will also learn about Chinese culture and will discuss our educational partnership with the Dali school. This event is free for our parents and the public but does require an RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking forward to seeing you many of you at the Winter Bash!
Have a great weekend,
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
As we head into this holiday weekend I want to wish your family all the best as we think about gratitude and all that we should appreciate in our lives. Something that I feel particularly positive about at this time is that our community, with the help of our Kent State University teachers in training, is continuing our partnership with Haven of Rest. Haven of Rest is Summit County’s largest homeless shelter. We are supporting their work by asking families to donate new socks and undergarments for men, women and children. Reverend Ben Walker, who was the former Executive Director and a current Board Member at Haven of Rest, helped identify this need at the shelter and was a featured speaker at our TGIS assembly last week. He helped our kids appreciate that some people, and in particular kids, do not always have the security to know where they will sleep and where they might get their next meal. He was very thankful that we are supporting their work with this vulnerable population.
He also shared with our students that our school’s namesake, Jerry Lippman, was a frequent volunteer at Haven of Rest and that GOJO Industries continues to support Haven of Rest in many ways. I shared with our students that I was fortunate to have known Jerry, and know that when he became successful he felt compelled to give back to his community (the Jewish community) and the community in which he lived (Akron and literally around the world). His philanthropy and the example he set are values that are important to our school and we hope through service projects we can help our students understand and live these values.
Often, people whose families are positively affected by being a part of our community feel gratitude and want to give back. I am pleased to inform you that Trish and Steve Crane (parents of Sami and Alisha Crane who graduated some years ago) are putting together a challenge grant that will be available on Giving Tuesday. Trish is also one of our past Board Presidents and remains closely connected to our Northern Cheyenne Project. She visited the reservation this spring with an adult group from our community. To help further support this initiative, and as a way to show her appreciation for Lippman, her family is offering a $1000 challenge grant that our community will be able to match dollar-for-dollar on Tuesday, November 28, Giving Tuesday. Information on how to participate will be sent out on Tuesday. The Crane family has done so much for Lippman and we appreciate their continued support as an alum family.
Have a wonderful holiday weekend.
Thursday, October 19, 2017
What an amazing week we experienced with our Northern Cheyenne friends! The bonfire/campout was remarkable, the many classroom learning experiences for all of our students were meaningful and authentic, and the walk was powerful. As I walked on the Portage Path with our friends form Montana and our 1st-8th grade students, I thought about this question: how do children learn best? More specifically, I thought about the following: would a student learn more form two weeks of study in the classroom through textbooks about the local significance of the historic portage path, or spending two hours walking the path with other schools, community members, local politicians and our partners at the Summit County Historical Society? It is easy to learn and quickly forget dates in history, but what we learned through our experience together on Monday is something that these students may never forget.
There was much press coverage about this event, but the most significant story ended up on the evening news on WKYC Cleveland/Akron. The link to the clip is found below. Please note that our goal in “Walking the Path” -which we initiated one year ago before much of the local political attention noted in the newscast- was to bring awareness and education to one of Akron’s most historic and important landmarks that few in our community know exists. At the same time, our educational philosophy supports the important ideal that education can lead to action, civic dialogue and broadening the perspective of those around us. Additionally, there is a strong ethic found in Jewish wisdom that minority groups and their historical experience and perspective is important to bring to light for those around us. Without such knowledge a society can become ignorant of its past and present and this can easily lead to misconceptions and even negative stereotypes.
I know that through our 6-year partnership with the Northern Cheyenne Nation and the two walks we have facilitated together, we have brought important and authentic learning experiences for our students and community. I am proud to say that The Lippman School is taking a local leadership position to help not only our students, but the citizens and civic leaders of Akron become more knowledgeable about the history of our land and nation.
Here is the news clip:
As we end the Holiday of Sukkot with the celebration of Simchat Torah, Jewish people rejoice as the Torah Scroll (the Five Books of Moses) is completed and we roll the Torah back to the beginning. In Jewish philosophy there is great emphasis on the cyclical nature of culturally significant moments. As we enter a new season/holiday it is as if we are experiencing the events of the past at the same time (think concentric rings) just one year removed from it. My friend Burt Medicine Bull from the Northern Cheyenne Nation said that as they were drumming and dancing along the Portage Path, he could feel the spirits of past indigenous people being re-awakened. He felt they were drumming, dancing and walking with us on that day. We hope to walk the same path on Monday, October 8th, 2018. We invite you to join us.
Chag Sa’mayach (Hebrew for a joyous holiday)
Have a great weekend,
Head Of School
Friday, September 15, 2017
It was great to see so many of you at our Back To School Barbeque on Sunday. As I mentioned to the parents there that day, this school year is off to a great start. Our school continues to see growth as demonstrated by our 19 Kindergarten students. This is the largest Kindergarten class the school has had in over 10 years. In addition, we welcome many new students throughout the school. The reputation of our school in the community has grown as we are recognized as a school where academic excellence lives in a school in which diversity and cross-cultural learning are a hallmark. This year as a staff we are emphasizing Jewish values that speak to all people. We are challenging ourselves to increase our awareness of developing our students as global citizens who are at our best when we listen to others and understand that living in community (the Jewish value we learned about recently) together requires that we all look out for each other to ensure that all are cared for and their voices heard.
Today, when a student was injured playing ball at recess, I saw an older student help that child to the office. Yesterday, when there was disagreement in a classroom 3 students came to my office to “right a wrong” they were concerned about and we together developed a plan to fix the problem. Students at the Lippman School understand that in this community we put compassion and empathy at the top of the list of character traits we want to see in our students.
As I have met informally with new students in the upper grades, and speak with their parents I hear things like, “the work is more challenging here, but I am getting help from teachers” and “my son/daughter is so eager to come to school, it’s like I have my happy child back.” To put academic excellence on equal footing with compassion and empathy is no easy task for a school; at Lippman it can be seen every day.
As I begin my 7th year as Head of School, I now have a greater perspective on the trajectory of our school and the work of our staff as a collaborative and forward-thinking team. Together we have developed a shared sense of purpose and a highly professional approach to teaching and learning. And above all, we place the individual child in the center of the decisions we make together in partnership with our families.
On Friday, together we end our day with something we call TGIS (thank goodness it’s Shabbat). We come together as an entire school and reflect upon the week of learning as we welcome the weekend during which we hope that students have time to be with family. For the Jewish people Shabbat –the Sabbath- begins at sundown on Friday night and ends at sundown on Saturday. This time is set aside as a time where some in our community try to abstain from work, have a family/friend meal together and some attend synagogue Friday night and/or Saturday morning. The universal themes that we try to share with all students is that being with family, being reflective about the week that has ended and what will be in the future and sharing time away from our busy “plugged in” life is important. When we take times like this –whether it’s Shabbat or a traditional Sunday night family dinner- we develop in ourselves the important bonds that we share between family and friends.
We also sometimes use our TGIS time together to recognize other important cultural moments that are connected to our curriculum. Today, Maestra Kogan (our Spanish teacher and a native of Mexico City) had students cook and eat traditional Mexican food, taught us about her native country and led the entire school and staff in traditional Mexican dancing. The timing of this experience coincides with Mexico’s Independence Day.
Shabbat Shalom (literally translated from Hebrew as “a peaceful Sabbath”).
Have a great weekend,
Head of School