Michal Smart, Bi-Cultural Day School’s associate principal for Judaic Studies, has been selected as one of a handful of Jewish education leaders from across the country and around the world to play an important role in creating a new vision for Jewish day school education as part of a just-announced initiative by The Jewish Education Innovation Challenge (JEIC), based in Bar Harbour, Florida.
The new effort, called “HaKaveret: JEIC Team Challenge,” will immediately convene a small group of “innovative, talented and motivated education experts who, over an eight-month period, will work together to develop new educational models and help turn them into reality,” the organization explained in its recent announcement.
Smart, who was nominated for this role by her colleagues in the field, “has demonstrated a passionate commitment to day school education,” the organization noted. She will participate in the new initiative concurrent with her role at Bi-Cultural.
Last year, Bi-Cultural received the prestigious Jewish Education Innovation Challenge Award, accompanied by a significant financial grant, international recognition for the school’s middle school program, Masora. “Bi-Cultural is one of only eight schools across the country to ever win this recognition for innovation and best practices in Jewish education,” Smart noted.
As a member of the inaugural team, Smart is one of “ten carefully selected ‘designers’ from a variety of backgrounds related to education, Judaism or psychology,” according to the sponsoring organization’s announcement. “The diversity of experience in this collaborative effort will help foster creative thinking and influence change.”
“Bi-Cultural is thrilled and proud that Mrs. Smart has been named a ‘designer’ on this important project, a ‘dream team’ of current Jewish educators bringing all their creativity, vision and experience to the challenge,” said Jacqueline Herman, Bi-Cultural’s Principal and Head of School.
“Clearly, the new ideas and creative approaches Mrs. Smart has brought so successfully to students in Bi-Cultural’s Jewish Studies Program were noticed by important leaders in Jewish education,” Mrs. Herman added, “and we are excited that she will be a key player in this dynamic process to enhance the Jewish day school experience in schools nationwide.”
As the JEIC announcement explained: From October 2016 to June 2017 the ‘designers’ will convene for “cornerstone retreats” in Silver Spring, Maryland; Chicago, Illinois; and Bar Harbour, Florida, to create new methods for innovating Jewish education, ultimately forming three to six new models that Jewish day schools can implement.
The team will identify schools that could potentially serve as testing sites for these new models. They will work closely with the schools to test the models, adapting them as necessary for each location.
HaKaveret: JEIC Team Challenge is operated by Joshua Venture Group and funded jointly by the Mayberg Foundation, Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah, and Arnee R. and Walter A. Winshall.
By Linda Russ