My MJDS Story: Marilyn Ruby
Dear MJDS Friends,
I was intrigued when a fledgling Jewish day school opened in Milwaukee, but it took two years before we took a leap of faith and "put our toe in the water" and enrolled our child. Ripples from that fateful decision in 1984 truly changed my life and the lives of everyone in my family.
First there were small ripples in a small pond. The school was small, and those were "pioneer days." If we MJDS parents wanted something for our children, we rolled up our sleeves and got it done. I think I was the second PTO president, and worked on fundraising events (a group of mothers unloading hundreds of cases of FAN from a semi), and helped 8th graders produce a graduation slide show - back in the day when it really was a slide show! I started Special Interest Day. I washed apples, stocked snack buckets, cooked latkes, and served on the Board and Executive Committee with founding Board chairs Michael Schaalman and Larry Gellman. Within a short time, my family's life seemed to revolve around MJDS, and my best friends were other MJDS parents.
It is said that a rising tide floats all boats, and so it was that my level of involvement with MJDS seemed to rise right along with the school's success and growth. I became an MJDS employee in 1994. I was so honored to work alongside Founding Director Doris Shneidman. I scheduled weekly violin lessons for about 100 students and coordinated the annual 8th grade class trip. I scheduled substitute teachers and wrote Yom Hashishi. I coordinated school pictures, 8th grade graduation and the yearbook. Most of my closest friends were MJDS staff, and I started the staff's infamous B+ Book Club. Two staff trips to Israel were highlights of my life.
In 2011, I was thrown into the deep end when I became a middle school literature and English teacher. I sometimes thought I would drown from the sheer volume of essays and lesson plans, but I received the best mentoring imaginable (thank you from the bottom of my heart to Merzy Eisenberg and Kathy Alpren). I can't even begin to convey how much I loved teaching and how I loved every single one of my students. Teaching at MJDS is so much more than just a job. Memories of teaching at MJDS still bring tears to my eyes, because I consider "MJDS teacher" the most prestigious professional title possible.
Deciding to move from Milwaukee five years ago to be with family was probably the toughest thing I've ever done, because as much as I love my family in Minneapolis, MJDS is my family in Milwaukee. I still count MJDS staff members among my closest friends, and I keep in touch with hundreds of former students and their parents. More than 30 years as an MJDS parent, staff member and teacher formed me emotionally, spiritually and professionally. My children are the wonderful adults they are today thanks to their MJDS teachers. I really believe that my seven grandchildren are all Jewish because my husband and I "put our toe in the water" and sent three children to MJDS.
I hope that my personal contributions to MJDS have made a positive difference in the lives of all MJDS students and their families. To MJDS, I say thank you and Mazal Tov on reaching double chai. You make me proud.