There is a great deal of communication at Atlanta Jewish Academy Upper School. I look forward to welcoming students at the front door each morning, often with a quick check-in concerning an AJA sporting event, preparation for a particular test or project, or even a health update. Teachers can be seen enjoying conversations with students in their classrooms, in the cafeteria, at off-campus events, at their homes on Shabbat, and at the Hunger Walk. Students certainly love spending time with their AJA friends, at school, during Shabbat, and during breaks from school. Parents come to school to attend parenting programs while also getting to know each other better, for parent-teacher conferences, for our amazing Cause Fair, for Chagiga and our talent show, CoffeePalooza, for sporting events, to beautify the campus, help care for our organic garden, and to learn more about opportunities at AJA and beyond.
The Torah refers to the communication between Hashem and Moshe as “panim el panim,” referring to the way Hashem and Moshe truly knew each other. The reference to “face to face” communication describes this level of communication and this level of knowing, a deep connection built on a granite foundation of trust. According to this understanding, one might not achieve “face to face” communication even when standing directly before another person and, at the same time, one might be able to engage in significant “face to face” communication across vast reaches of physical distance.
It is, we hope, this spirit of “face to face” communication that animates our conversations at Atlanta Jewish Academy. We aspire to have our communication built on a foundation of mutual trust and respect and a level of knowledge and caring for each other that can make candid communication meaningful. Whatever the mode of communication, we place the utmost value on making that connection a true, face-to-face encounter. This is one of the main things I love about Atlanta Jewish Academy, and an important reason I look forward to going to school each and every day!
Dr. Paul Oberman is Associate Head of the Atlanta Jewish Academy Upper School. Dr. Oberman came to Yeshiva Atlanta in 2010 as Principal, and became the Head of School in 2011, continuing in his position after the merger of Yeshiva Atlanta and Greenfield Hebrew Academy (now Atlanta Jewish Academy Greenfield Early Childhood, Lower School and Middle School). He has been a teacher and administrator at many schools, including Choate Rosemary Hall in CT, Paideia School in Atlanta (where he was Assistant Junior High Coordinator), and Pace Academy in Atlanta (where he was Head of Middle School). He believes in student ownership of education, and is thrilled to be working with such a wonderful group of educators.
"Children learn through interacting: interacting with teachers, peers, environment, and content."
AJA is a school that values process, rather than product. To put it another way, we focus on verbs, rather than nouns. My goal is that our students not be satisfied with a static reservoir of information, but learn to seek out opportunities to use and apply the information in meaningful ways. A learner at AJA never arrives at an end, as each new learning begets new questions to be answered and new problems to be solved.
"We teach kids; not just curriculum."
At all levels, learning must be developmentally appropriate and unique to the needs and styles of the individual. Therefore, for me, the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual needs of the individual student are as important as the content we teach.
Leah Summers is Associate Head of School at Atlanta Jewish Academy's Greenfield Early Childhood, Lower School, and Middle School. Before coming to AJA in 2007, Leah lived in Marblehead, Massachusetts, where she served as a teacher, director, principal, and ultimately co-head at the Cohen Hillel Academy over a 27-year period. She holds a BS in Early Childhood Education and an MS in Symbolization and the Reading Process.