While many have tweeted, posted and blogged about the great speakers, presenters, activities, networking, food, cardboard and the many other elements that made up the iJED conference this week, there was one element that I could not stop being impressed with. Learning and creating can certainly happen in isolation, but when it happens in collaborative supportive teams something transformative occurs. I saw this on a macro level as being part of the YU School Partnership team and on the micro level watching the administrative team of EMEK Hebrew Academy who attended the conference together.
As a member of the YU School Partnership team, I could not help but be impressed by how the team came together from the iJED inception to implementation. It was not only how well each member of the team work tirelessly to pull off a great conference, but how well they worked with the other fantastic team from the Solomon Schechter Day School Network (SSDS). Pre-conference had many hurdles to jump in order to create the seamlessly executed learning event that was iJED. We all worked hard on so many levels and I am not sure we would have succeeded if it weren’t for a sense of team and a sense of higher purpose, mainly the field of Jewish education. In addition, Jon Mitzmacher and his team at SSDS, were a pleasure to work with and only added to our mutual goal of creating a learning experience that benefited every educator that attended. Regardless of network, together we were the iJED team and pulled off a masterful ballet of balancing logistics, conference participants, presenters and needs of the field.
On the micro level, I was also so pleased to witness the many school teams that attended the conference. Whether is was teams of two, three or more, it was clear schools saw great value in sending groups who could reflect and learn together. As an example, I had the pleasure of spending some quality time with the entire admin team from EMEK Hebrew Academy where my children attend. They attended with their Head of School, Principal, two Vice Principals and their Director of Early Childhood. What this allowed for was learning that could be brought back to the entire school. They attended various sessions, reflected together, discussed plans together and supported each others ideas on how to bring back what they learned to the school. Together they not only illustrated the importance of professional development, but modeled collaboration for their entire school.
As Aristotle said, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” and being a part of the whole that is the YU School Partnership is a true honor as all the parts are so valued and work so well together. Additionally, seeing the impact the whole has when all the parts of a school participate in professional growth, as I saw with the EMEK admin team and many more at iJED, is breathtaking and reassuring that the future of Jewish education is secure. I look forward to next years North American Jewish Day School Conference in Philadelphia, and wish all the conference partners the same ease, professionalism and support that occurred when planning iJED and hope more school teams can attend and be part of something truly great in the service of their schools.