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A Most Unprecedented, Historic and Wonderful Year

Merrill Hendin

Three months ago, almost to the day, our lives and our school pivoted in ways we could never have imagined. Purim was among our last days in school. How odd and ironic that our usual conversation before Purim is about NOT wearing masks so we can see faces and not scare each other, and here we are, wearing masks, putting our children in masks, and making sure that, when we come back to school, we will have an adequate supply of….. masks! My how the world has changed in these three months.

Over these months we have climbed mountains and performed miracles! Each and every one of our teachers created classrooms out of corners of their living rooms, bedrooms, guest rooms, basements, kitchens and…..they started to teach. With three days of preparation, they went straight to it, developing ways of delivering curriculum that were meaningful and engaging, and manageable in an online format. And always, always, keeping the student at the center, making sure that we could appropriately differentiate and working closely with support services and administration to ensure student success. 

There are not enough ways to say thank you for the heart, dedication, passion and moxie that all of our teachers showed during this time - and always. Our hearts are so full of gratitude.

What follows is a list - by no means complete, of just a few of the MANY things our students experienced during these three short - and yet VERY LONG - months. Apologies for things I may have missed. Here we go!

Book bags
Monday morning tefillah gatherings
Pesach celebration
Guest speakers
Yom Hashoah commemoration
Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration
Shelter feeds 
Inservice days 
Sack lunch challenge 
New student virtual visits
Family zoom chats
School-wide art portfolio
Middle school trip to NYC
End of year deliveries to students homes
Car parades
Writing celebrations
Key ceremonies
Peter Pan- Middle School Drama Production
Third grade Portland Play
Shavuot celebration
Evening MS student and teacher hangouts
Talent Show
Literary and art journal 
PJA newsletter
Book bags and more book bags
Science expo and parade
Poetry slam
Summer Reading Launch
Kindergarten portfolios
Kindergarten car parade “graduation” to first grade
Family Vigil
8th grade car parade
And did I mention books??

And I know I missed things so feel free to add to the list! 

In our Early Childhood program, our teachers met often in live zoom meetings with children and their families to share activities, stories, music, art, laughter, and sometimes pets! Students, from the youngest to the oldest, were part of community; learning and socializing with their peers and teachers.

Living through these historic times has shown us the true meaning of a cohesive and caring community. On Sunday, June 14, as we stood together- with masks on and at appropriate social distance - in a peaceful family vigil, we made it very clear that community matters; that Black lives matter. We, once again, showed what this Kehillah is capable of by coming together to make a difference, to make the world a better place. Lo alecha hamlacha ligmor…. It is not upon us to finish the work, nor are we free to desist from it - Pirkei Avot, Ethics of our Fathers. We continue to learn and work for the world.

During these unprecedented times I have been struck over and over again by life. Flowers and trees grow; we celebrate joyous times, experience pain and mourn losses, and through it all we support each other as only our PJA Kehillah can. As things felt overwhelming and frightening, it helped to focus on the good. There has been so much positive, so much love, so much innovation, so much opportunity. And that is what I hope we remember; that we were here for each other and our students and managed to truly climb mountains with resilience and heart.  

Summer awaits! Go forth. Read books, play in the sun, do good work, take action.  L’hitraot, PJA and thank you for a most unprecedented, historic and wonderful year.


Spotlight on ...

Mindful Movements, Mindful Moments

With the understanding that students have a bit less flexibility to move around the classroom and teachers have fewer opportunities to provide spontaneous outside recess, PJA’s Health and Wellness Educator, Blair Borax, wanted to fill the need for brief in-class movement breaks. 

Read More about Mindful Movements, Mindful Moments