Dear MJDS Friends,
I am the proud parent of MJDS graduates Anna, David, Noah and Sadie, but I also work at MJDS, teaching kindergarten. Therefore, I tend to look at everything through a kindergarten perspective. Some years ago, Robert Fulghum wrote a short essay called "All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten." In it, he explained that the big life lessons that he had learned were all learned in kindergarten. Ideas like "play fair," "clean up your own mess" and "don't take things that aren't yours," etc... And, I would agree.
But I would take it beyond this and say, instead, that "All we really need to know we learned at MJDS." And here are some of the lessons I've learned from being a teacher and parent at MJDS for the past seventeen years:
Take cues from your child. On the first day of kindergarten, when I was having a hard time leaving Anna, she turned around and told me, "You can go." When Sadie was leaving for Israel, she called Anna the first night and said, "I'm just calling to see if mom is ok?" They each were ready for this new step; it was up to us to follow their lead, and to do it gracefully.
Let your child become who they want to become. Each of our children is very different, with different skills. MJDS honors these differences and helped each of my children discover unique characteristics about themselves.
Grades are only what you know. Your behavior is who you are. My children have or have not appeared regularly on the honor roll. I've learned that grades are important, but how hard you work, how you treat others, and how you learn to carry yourself is truly what makes you a great person.
Empathy and Tikkun Olam. This is taught throughout MJDS, from a classroom community, to our city, to our world. This awareness has impacted each of my children; they carry it with them. They can look outside of themselves and take pride in doing for others. It's a value that has been ingrained in them.
Judaism is a gift we have given our children. My family's Judaism is not just another subject, ceremony or homework assignment. MJDS instills in our children a love, pride and ownership of their Judaism. Making it important for our family to be in this school and to complete this school, reinforced our commitment to this gift.
Trust the process. Through fruits and nuts, and monthly school payments, to conferences and learning resources, to science projects and middle school changes, our trust has been in MJDS and the teachers and staff who represent it. By trusting and listening, we have taught our children to trust and listen.
It truly takes a village. What we choose to give to our children when they are young will stay with them forever. And impressionable times call for kindness, nurturing, expectations and expertise. There is no better place that I can think of than the village of MJDS to help instill these values in our children.
Thank you to the community that is Milwaukee Jewish Day School. You have taught us, first hand, everything we need to know.