Commentary

Most of us are familiar with Aesop’s fable, The Tortoise and the Hare, which, according to at least one interpretation, teaches us that the fastest runner does not always win the race. Likewise, in the Bible, God created the world in six days and the Sabbath on the seventh, for even the Divine Creator needed rest and… Continue reading Commentary

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The Power of Pluralism

One of our school’s several Torah scroll’s needs to be repaired. This Torah is most often used by the school’s traditional egalitarian minyan (one of several different minyanim including Reform, alternative and mechitza). Consistent with the egalitarian minyan’s principles, the members of the minyan want to invite a female soferet (scribe) to fix the Torah.… Continue reading The Power of Pluralism

THINKING DIFFERENTLY ABOUT DAY SCHOOL FUNDING AND PRIORITIES

THE CHALLENGE In healthy, stable organizations with strong leadership and governance, a short-term resource challenge and even a crisis can generate innovative, adaptive thinking and great leadership. However, a steady state of financial disequilibrium can lull leaders into a vicious cycle of short-term thinking and what I would call “make-sure-we’re-still-around-tomorrow management.” When school leaders are… Continue reading THINKING DIFFERENTLY ABOUT DAY SCHOOL FUNDING AND PRIORITIES

The Meaning of Pluralism in a Jewish High School

Introduction  For the past four years I have been in what you might call a polemic, or perhaps even a disputation, with a friend and colleague of mine, a religious leader, from Atlanta. This religious leader is fond of speaking from the pulpit about the perils of pluralism – indeed, he perceives pluralism as both… Continue reading The Meaning of Pluralism in a Jewish High School

Educational Philosophy

Introduction  Twice in my life I was given the gift of walking through an open door into a new world. The first was a world two hundred years old, that no member of my family had ever known before. The second was a world three thousand years old, a world that nearly every generation of… Continue reading Educational Philosophy

SPORTS LE-SHEM SHAMAYIM: THE SACRED MISSION OF HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETICS

Our vision of the role that competitive athletics can play in the lives of high school students is a deeply personal one. We—the head of school and athletic director of Gann Academy in Waltham, Massachusetts—have been playing competitive sports since we were children, and we were blessed with opportunities to compete at both the high… Continue reading SPORTS LE-SHEM SHAMAYIM: THE SACRED MISSION OF HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETICS

DEEPENING THE CONVERSATION ABOUT WHAT SCHOOLS CAN LEARN FROM CAMPS

Rigorous classes, holiday celebrations, sports, arts, boyfriends, breakups, SATs, bus rides, trips, shabbatonim, tefillah, Talmud Torah, Hebrew, English, Chinese, Israel, America... We believe that there is a growing need to ground our work in theory and to develop a shared language about what it means to bring the best of the Jewish camp experience to… Continue reading DEEPENING THE CONVERSATION ABOUT WHAT SCHOOLS CAN LEARN FROM CAMPS

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE “LONELY AT THE TOP”: DEVELOPING HIGH FUNCTIONING LEADERSHIP TEAMS

The vastly expanding demands put upon school leaders provides schools with an opportunity to create their own form of distributed leadership. Baker explains what leadership teams are, why they offer many benefits, and how a team can be most effective. In the face of a changing world and increasingly complex challenges, the most important thing… Continue reading IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE “LONELY AT THE TOP”: DEVELOPING HIGH FUNCTIONING LEADERSHIP TEAMS

Hepsed part 2

I was talking yesterday with my and Jill’s rabbi in Israel; I called to share with him the sad news of Allan’s passing. We began talking about Allan’s life and when I shared with him my trepidation about how possibly to do him justice today, he responded: don’t worry, just know that you are woefully… Continue reading Hepsed part 2

Hesped (Eulogy) for my father, Stephen A. Baker, z”l

June 6, 2014/8 Sivan 5774     Soon after the sun rose on the morning of Shavuot, the Jewish holiday commemorating the giving and receiving of the Torah, my beloved father’s soul peacefully departed this world. Just as the Jewish People gathered around Mount Sinai, stepping forward as we have for thousands of years to re-experience… Continue reading Hesped (Eulogy) for my father, Stephen A. Baker, z”l