year in review
Randy Boroff, Head of School

As we wind down the 2015-2016 school year, I’d like to take time to reflect on many outstanding moments and achievements that we can all be proud of at Gross Schechter. This was a year of renewal and transition.

There is a renewed Schechter spirit throughout the school. When our students enter each morning you can feel the “ruach”, their excitement. The enthusiasm for learning is palpable and every day we are witness to the special connection between our students and teachers. As music plays, students are greeted with big smiles and a warm welcome. Personal connections are made: birthdays, b’nai mitzvah celebrations, recent vacations, Schechter athletic team successes, holiday celebrations and even opinions about upcoming Cleveland Browns, Cavaliers and Indians games. That sense of joy continues throughout the day, in all classes and at all events. Our students leave school at the end of the day in the same spirit they entered: with cheerful greetings, smiles and, most importantly, with a deep sense of accomplishment.

We transitioned: leadership, new staff members, schedule changes, a Jewish Life Committee, the development of a Strategic Plan, a commitment to a personalized educational environment and much more. Our focus over the last year has been to meet the needs of our students socially and academically, while bringing joy to everything that we do. We made big strides!

We grew! We spent many hours working during the summer to retain and attract families, adding to our enrollment from June to August. We started the school year with 214 students and will end the year with 232 students. We introduced an Infant Care Program that is well regarded and is in high demand due to the expert care provided by our staff. Our pre-school enrollment was larger than ever and continues to grow for the upcoming school year.

We added to our programs. We increased our production of art, music and project-based learning this school year. You could see the displays in the hallways and hear the singing and dancing, even during lunch time.

We had numerous academic and athletic accomplishments this school year: locally, regionally and on the state level:
  • The year started off with results from last year’s Ohio Department of Education End of Course Exams for Algebra and Geometry. 100% of our students who took the test passed, with 88% of those students scoring in the advanced or accelerated range.
  • In the fall, our Middle School Soccer Team tied for the league championship.
  • In the winter, our Girl’s Basketball team took home the championship trophy as league champs and our Boy’s Basketball Team won more games than ever.
  • In the spring, our Middle School Ultimate Frisbee team also reigned as league champions!
  • Each year, our Middle School students participate in the Power of the Pen Competition. This year, seventh grade student, Rose Cohen, represented Gross Schechter at the State Competition.
  • Our Science Fair participants competed at the District competition, and seventh grade student, Gabe Wolf, advanced to the State Fair where he received a high rating by the judges.
  • Adam Kahn, Nora Igelnik and Joshua Murdakhaev were recognized for their projects in the Yom Hashoah Writing and Art Competition.

Our curriculum deepened. We introduced a new curriculum about the safe and responsible use of technology, which was rooted in Judaic values and also applied in general studies classes.

Our science department introduced an new STEM curriculum based in Inquiry, Engineering and Design. Practical application took many forms, including an-depth Wind Turbine technology project. During our Read for Life program, our students learned about countries and cultures all over the world, all while reading over 1,200 books. Of course, there was a social action component –  they donated 120 books to underprivileged youth organizations.

None of these accomplishments could happen without the dedicated staff that conceive, implement and monitor the progress of the programs.

Gross Schecter’s commitment to Tikkun Olam is something to behold. Each month our Middle School students leave the building and go out into the community to participate in various community service activities. Whether they work with clients at Menorah Park, read to students at Stepstone Academy in Cleveland or assist with ecological activities at Shaker Lakes, our students learn the value of giving back to the community in order to make the world a better place. Our original Buddy Program connects our Middle School students with our Pre-School students. while reading buddies connect various grades in the elementary school. Buddies read together, play together, complete projects and make meaningful connections. Older buddies become role models for our younger students and there is excitement when they come together for school-wide programs. These connections can last a lifetime and contribute to ensuring we are one kehillah, one community.

We will continue to grow! Over the course of the year, a great deal of planning took place in partnership with the Cleveland Botanical Gardens to create our own Schechter Garden in the courtyard adjacent to the Library. Keep an eye out for our garden to bloom! It will be home to science projects, food for our lunch program, prayer space and much more!

At the end of the day, Gross Schechter is developing life-long learners who have a passion for achievement, a joy and appreciation for Judaic study, and an understanding of the importance of Tikkun Olam. We are doing this by creating an environment where “success is illuminated by tradition and ignited by innovation”.

As Frank Sinatra once sang, “It was a very good year”…and we are looking forward to building on that in the years to come.

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Rachel Lappen

Rachel is the proud parent of two Schechter students.

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