Friday, October 30, 2015

Being Proactive with Parashat Toldot

As part of the Torah curriculum, fourth graders studied Parashat Toldot.

This Torah portion tells us about Isaac’s life. Isaac and Rebecca endure twenty childless years, until their prayers are answered and Rebecca conceives. She experiences a difficult pregnancy as the“children struggle inside her”; G-d tells her that “there are two nations in your womb,” and that the younger will prevail over the elder.

The first baby comes out red-cheeked and hairy and they name him Esau. The second, born holding Esau’s heel, they name Jacob. Esau grows up to be “a cunning hunter, a man of the field”; Jacob is “a wholesome man,” a dweller in the tents of learning. Isaac favors Esau; Rebecca loves Jacob.

Returning exhausted and hungry from the hunt one day, Esau sells his birthright (his rights as the first born) to Jacob for a pot of red lentil stew.

Esau eats and drinks, then leaves. Thus did Esau despise his birthright.

As part of our Leader in Me program, the students connected the first habit, Be Proactive, with their Torah study. The students learned some important Psokim by heart, dressed up and played each character, and they even learned to cook red lentil soup!

Morah Sarit Ginzburg
4th Grade Judaic Studies Teacher
Middle School Judaic Studies Teacher

“Great happens” in Early Childhood!

The children in Nursery 3, Pre-K, and Kindergarten reaped the benefits of our multi-talented staff during the first of a series of weekly enrichment classes: Art Appreciation, Food Science, Hebrew Immersion, and Leader in Me. During the first rotation:
  • Nursery 3 learned about the first Leader in Me habit, "Be Pro-active", by brainstorming about independent play and taking charge of classroom clean-up
  • Pre-K experienced Art Appreciation, learning about the artist Van Gogh and creating a "starry night" picture which correlated with the creation of the world
  • Kindergarten sampled Hebrew Immersion, exploring Hebrew colors through literacy and creating a color wheel
The children enthusiastically embraced this innovative and engaging educational experience. They are anxiously looking forward to future classes!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Physical Education and the Leader in Me

The middle school Physical Education class incorporates the Leader in Me program by having students lead warm-ups and make activity choices throughout the year.

Mrs. Robin Kelly

Physical Education Teacher

Middle School Science Teacher

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Teacher Professional Development and the Leader in Me

All teachers from Early Childhood through Middle School have had the opportunity to meet with Valerie Blanchard, our client partner from the Franklin Covey Institute. Valerie coaches teachers on infusing the Leader in Me principles into the daily routine of the classroom, shares ideas for classroom and school-wide projects and activities, and facilitates connecting our school to other Leader in Me schools. During November, our teachers will have even more opportunities to sharpen their teaching skills. On November 11th, Robin Sampson, a Franklin Covey consultant and trainer, will facilitate a half day workshop for all teachers called Launching Leadership. During that workshop teachers will learn additional strategies for teaching the 7 Habits and for building a culture of leadership at the Academies at GBDS. On November 18th, our teachers will have the opportunity to visit a Leader in Me school in Boonton, NJ. The John Hill School is a K-8 school that will collaborate with us on implementing The Leader in Me. We can learn from their teachers, staff, administrators, parents, and students about how to bring The Leader in Me to life at our school. Parents are also welcome to join the visit! Any interested parents should contact Mr. Smolen by phone or email:

Inspiring Leadership

One sixteen year old is creating potentially life-saving drones. Another nineteen year old composed a rap song called “Daughters for Sale” and posted it on You Tube, eventually preventing her from being sold as a child bride in Afghanistan. These are but two of the five young inspiring leaders who the seventh grade read about in Mrs. Glassberg’s Social Studies class last week. The article, “Changing the World”, appeared in their current events magazine, Upfront, and highlighted five inspiring young people who are doing remarkable things to contribute to changing the world for the better. What character traits do these remarkable young people share? What has enabled them to be in a position to make a difference in the world? How can they inspire us to find the leader inside each of us? Our students were asked to choose two of the five leaders and to compose well-written paragraphs analyzing these accomplishments. They were then asked to study the “7 Habits,”taught as part of the Leader-in-Me program, and to choose two of the habits they felt each leader reflected. The students included this linkage analysis in their compositions. Commenting on the woman who created the rap song, Samantha Rigante stated, "…she was being proactive, she didn’t run away or start crying, she used her talents for something good…she synergized with her family to come up with a better solution than being sold….she still uses both these habits today to help take a stand for women’s rights.” We are social beings and whether we look at society through an historical lense or a contemporary one, we benefit when we see the potential people have to achieve greatness—a good thought as we start the year!!

By: Mrs. Eunice Glassberg

Middle School Social Studies

Social Studies Coordinator

Leader in Me in Middle School

Since the first week of school the 6th, 7th and 8th grade students have benefited from learning about the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People once a week during an enrichment course. The course is team taught by Mr. Smolen, Rabbi Traiger, and Sheila Barbach. Having a dedicated period each week enhances the emphasis given to utilizing the 7 Habits in other classes. The course curriculum includes direct instruction on the 7 Habits, using a workbook and student journal along with experiential, project-based learning. The most recent sessions involved team-building and a cooperative learning activity that taught the students how to use the 7 Habits to actively and cooperatively participate on a Learning Team. They practiced important 21st century skills including effective communication, consensus building, and time management. As the school year progresses, all students will be able to experience how using the 7 Habits improves their academic achievement and helps them reach their personal goals.

Mrs. Sheila Barbach

Academies Coordinator

Monday, October 19, 2015

Leader in Me Staff Training/Implementation

The teachers and students, with inspiration from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The Leader in Me, started the year strong. Adopting the tenets of this program encourages children to be leaders of their own lives. This will enable them to identify their own unique talents and abilities and to make a positive difference in the world.

All GBDS staff participated in a two day training to help them internalize and apply The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The teachers then hit the ground running in their classrooms, writing class mission statements, using the new vocabulary, reading books that illustrate the 7 Habits, and encouraging students to take leadership roles in their classrooms. A second training in November will further increase the teachers' ability to incorporate the 7 Habits into classroom routines, strengthening the impact of this program.

As the school year progresses you will see evidence of The Leader in Me everywhere you look in the school and classrooms. Students will begin using Leadership Notebooks, writing class and personal mission statements, and assuming leadership roles. Creating bulletin boards and murals, and planning special events including a Leadership Day at the end of the year, will further cultivate these principles in the students.

You can learn more about The Leader in Me at If you would like to get involved in a Parent Lighthouse Team, which will help bring these principles into your home and engage the whole school community, please contact the school by phone or email.

"I think the most significant work we will do in our whole life, in our whole world, is done within the four walls of our home." -- Stephen Covey

By:Sheila Barbach

Academies Coordinator

Fourth Grade Potential Future World Leaders?

The fourth graders wasted no time diving into 'The Leader in Me' program, and have already been acting PROACTIVELY, both at home and in school. When writing our class mission statement, the students first brainstormed the word MISSION and the word STATEMENT. Their ideas were excellent. As an example, the word MISSION elicited ideas such as accomplishments, objectives, goals, and achievements as well as accepting challenges and completing something you begin. The students began by writing their own individual mission statements. After a visit to the Early Childhood classrooms to see what they had written in their mission statements, the fourth graders worked in groups to combine their ideas. Stop by the fourth grade classroom to see the final result of all this cooperative work!

By Mrs. Rachel Greenwald
3rd/4th Grade General Studies Teacher