Published in the Hebrew Watchman, July 25, 2019
Daniel R. Weiss, Head of School at Bornblum Jewish Community School, came together with more than one-hundred and thirty school leaders from around the world at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, Principals’ Center for a conference entitled LEV – Leadership: An Evolving Vision. The conference brought leading professors to teach about strategy, leadership, performance, culture, developing expert learners, transforming school organizations, differentiated instruction, multiple intelligences, goal setting, assumptions, and supporting staff.
The LEV program, which included participants from not just the United States, but from schools in Australia, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Brazil, and others, sparked enriching discussions and experiences, and showed that although schools are diverse, the role of a leader and the struggles, accomplishments and days of fulfillment are quite similar. Weiss was part of a cohort of leaders from 18 Jewish Day Schools, whose attendance was sponsored by the AVIChai Foundation.
While at Harvard, Weiss focused on strategy, goals and culture. Discussions about leadership provided insight into topics like multiple demands, relationships, values and commitments strategy, resources, mission and vision, and finding a balance in life. Weiss and his fellow participants explored the importance of being coherent, intentional, full of design, looking for a common goal and evolving as progress is made.
According to Weiss, “ultimately, we decided that the most important thing is ‘knowing your why.’ When you know your why, your what has more impact because you are walking in or towards your purpose.”
For Weiss, the conference had particular relevance as the school embarks on a strategic planning process this fall. “Bornblum’s Board of Directors will be working hard over the next several months to create a comprehensive Strategic Plan for our school allowing us to be forward thinking in helping to ensure our long-term stability. This will allow us to further understand our why, so our what has an even greater impactas we plan for our future.”
Another session of particular interest to Weiss was on Building School Based Systems of Support for ALL Students, in which the group learned about the important role of a school counselor and how student’s working ability is impacted by stress. “I am proud of the work our community has been doing in this area as Bornblum, Jewish Community Partners, Jewish Family Service and Margolin Hebrew Academy have come together to hire a School Counselor who will work in both of our community’s Day Schools,” says Weiss.
During the program’s closing session, participants were given an opportunity to share something about the institute after a prolonged moment of silence for everyone to sit and think. Weiss shared the following: “How great it is to have a moment of silence. Time to be with my own thoughts in a world where there is lots of volume. When I first saw the title of the institute, I focused on LEV, which is the Hebrew word for heart. With the constant work and effort that each of us puts into our craft, in building relationships, in solving problems before anyone knows that they are problems, in constantly listening to those around you, whose voices simply need to be heard, I often lose track of my heart, my love for teaching, for educating, for leading, for being a part of a team and a community where heart is at the center. My experience with the educators on this program gave a jolt to my heart and a reminder of why I wake up every day, loving what I am doing.”