Forty days, forty weeks, forty years….

April has been an interesting month. It began with snow, and then, just as Passover was around the corner, the weather pattern shifted. Birds returned and now they are happily chirping in our yards. We have been blessed with blue skies and warm days to welcome spring. In preparation for Passover, many of us cleaned our kitchens, and hopefully our souls too – getting ridding of chametz – literal crumbs, but also the metaphorical chaff, which makes us feel bloated. It’s a time for new beginnings and we are encouraged to leave Mitzrayim (literally Egypt but metaphorically narrow-mindedness) behind so we can open ourselves up to a fresh start and the freedom to start anew.

Our ancestors enjoyed their freedom, but then faced the new reality of wandering in the desert. As the Passover Hagaddah reminds us, their sojourn lasted multiple generations – forty years. As teachers, we often ask ourselves, will our students still know this content in forty days, forty weeks, or forty years? How relevant and lasting is the learning? Ask yourself, how much do you remember from your elementary and middle school years? Was there a teacher, a unit, a book, a project that is still fresh in your mind? Hopefully, the answer is yes. Right before vacation, our first and second graders performed and led a biome exposition. They learned about seven different biomes by conducting science experiments, reading non-fiction texts about specific animals and their habitats, summarizing and writing about the animals, building dioramas of the biomes, programming 3-D printers to make animals, rehearsing scenes, and memorizing lines and songs and performing in a musical. If that seems like a lot of work for six and seven years olds, you’re right, it was – and they couldn’t get enough of it each day! Our teachers truly nurtured “the whole child” by tapping into Harvard Professor Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. Our students had the opportunity to shine whether it was through presenting their projects, singing, acting, or writing. Individually they became more confident, and collectively they learned the power of working together to accomplish a goal. A first grader remarked at the end of his dress rehearsal, “I will remember this play for a lifetime!” – mission accomplished. Kudos to our incredible teaching staff who worked together across disciplines to make this experience a success, and to our students, who will still be singing, “Biome, biome, got to find the right biome” forty years from now. Who knows, maybe one of these students will remain interested in the environment or animals, and will pursue a career in science.

A Cohen Hillel education prepares students for the years ahead, while providing experiences that will last a lifetime. Do you know a family who might be interested in our school? Transfer season is underway and we would love your help in spreading the word about our school. We have a new middle school expansion initiative, as well as spots available in our lower school. Please stop into our admissions office to learn more, or contact Jen Goldberg for more information. We are working hard not to be the best-kept secret in town!