At the second annual State of the School address on Jan. 15, Head of School and Principal Yossi Kastan announced that the Jewish Day School of the Lehigh Valley has been named to the distinction of Blue Ribbon Beacon School. The Jewish Day School of the Lehigh Valley -- founded in 1954 and now entering its sixth decade of serving the Lehigh Valley -- is a community school for primary kindergarten through 8th grade that is dedicated to a holistic approach to education.
One year ago, in January 2012, Kastan took the stage for the first annual State of the School address. He introduced the school community to a visionary plan to re-energize the school and move toward a future of academic distinction with the ultimate goal of becoming a Blue Ribbon school.
The Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence program is a comprehensive school self-assessment experience. The program assists schools in assessing the quality of their academic program and developing a school-wide action plan to measure achievement. Schools are assessed and then classified into one of four levels of distinction: Aspiring School, Points of Light School, Beacon School, and Lighthouse School. The JDS began the journey toward the Lighthouse School Award in 2012 as an Aspiring School.
The announcement of the Blue Ribbon Beacon School award was followed by a presentation made by Kastan, the faculty, and administration recognizing progress made in eight key areas of development as set forth last year: Curriculum and instruction, leadership and supervision, board and governance, admissions and retention, finance and accounting, operations and security, marketing and communication, and community involvement.
Curriculum and Instruction
- Strengthened technology integration through use of iPads and Apple TV in grades one and five through eight, SmartBoards, and Mac laptop carts for grades two through four
- Invested in additional student support services through new school counselor, reading specialist and resource staff
- Increased opportunities for co-curricular and leadership opportunities through experiences such as the student newspaper and after-school activities
Leadership & Supervision
- Provided training and peer coaching in the differentiated supervision model for faculty
Board and Governance
- Instituted ongoing education and self-assessment for the Board of Directors
- Ongoing revision process of JDS bylaws
Finance & Accounting
- Worked with Measuring Success, a premier consulting firm specializing in independent and Jewish Day Schools to create advanced models for financial scenario planning and a framework for sustainability
Marketing & Communications
- Implemented new constituent management software and updated all JDS constituent lists into one main database
- Ongoing development of new and improved website and social media to launch in the coming months
Admissions & Retention
- Showcased the JDS to prospective families through events such as parlor meetings and the open house
- Strengthened relationships with Lehigh Valley Clergy Group and local day care centers and schools
Operations & Security
- Created safety training opportunities for faculty and staff
- Enhanced all emergency evacuation and lockdown procedures
- Exceeded goals for corporate support through Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from local businesses
- Laid the groundwork for mutually beneficial partnerships with the JCC and Jewish Family Service
- Established successful partnership with Community Music School to provide instrumental lessons to dozens of students
The JDS congratulates the entire community on the hard work and support that resulted in being named Blue Ribbon Beacon School and as we strive for excellence and toward the ultimate goal of being named a Blue Ribbon Lighthouse School.