Weekly Newsletter – June 26, 2020

I often start the "It’s a Wrap" email with something like, "Wow, what a year it has been!" (catchy, huh?). This year, somehow all I can come up with is "OMG" (well, I actually had three other letters in mind, but this is a family newsletter). If ever there has been a demonstration of the power of community, it was this year, and it makes me so proud to be part not only of the King David Family but of our entire Jewish community. Our school staff and our community stepped up in ways that actualized our values. If we can find any positive in being in a pandemic, it is that we are in it together. We see with greater acuity what is important: family, friends, acts of kindness, walks in the park, each other. 

At King David, we are ending a difficult year filled with "high hopes for the future". Originally, we had planned to share the video below at our Golden Thread Gala in May, but it fits in just as well now. A group of our talented students created the video with the help of Adam Stern, parent of Gabe (Class of 2019) and Maddy (Class of 2022), Johnny Seguin, Music Teacher, and Tim Fuller, Vocal Genius.

High Hopes

I would like to offer a "wowza" to the teachers and staff of King David who turned on a dime this year and fully committed to intensive training and learning – and risk taking – to serve students and families in daily learning on Zoom. This was as intense as it was difficult. And if that were not enough, teachers were then asked in June to teach students in their classrooms and at home simultaneously. Again, our teachers were heroic; I wish I could explain how difficult this is to do. I was a classroom teacher for 15 years and I am in awe of what our staff managed. I am especially proud of all the mistakes we made and the willingness to try, fail, and try again.
 
In terms of community, there is so much to appreciate. Our King David community really stepped up to support our Annual Campaign, helping us provide even more support to families in need during these tough times. The Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver has been behind all of us and giving extra support as well – not just financially, but also emotionally and by showing that our effort was appreciated. Although our Jewish Day Schools have always co-existed well, this year we struck a new partnership where we all locked arms and together raised money for all of our schools and shared in each other’s success.
 
I could go on for pages about accomplishments in this school year, including our exceptional graduation ceremony last week, but I respect you all too much to do so. I do, however, need to thank our families, students, and parents, who have been so supportive, understanding, and appreciative of our effort this year. Our staff are so grateful for the positive attitudes that have been shared with us. We all know how hard this type of situation is on the adults but it is even harder on our students. They have been champions, raising the spirits of peers and teachers alike.
 
In a year of Zoom (another four-letter word as far as I am concerned) there is so much for which we are grateful. We are moving forward and we are excited to do so. Due to all of the community care, we have been able to provide additional support to families impacted financially by the pandemic and our enrolment next year should be just as strong or stronger than this year – about 227 students. Behind the scenes, our building expansion plans continue, but that being said, we know that right now there are more critical needs in the community than our "Fill the Space" campaign. However, the need for a larger school has not abated – I would argue that our online experience has merely confirmed the need for in-person, relationship-based schooling. We are so fortunate that the Gordon Diamond Family is providing the building, and although we are currently moving forward with these plans a bit more slowly, we are hoping you will keep this exciting opportunity to "fill our space" in mind when the time comes, as this expansion will serve our community for years to come. 

With the school year at an end, we must say farewell to two King David staff. We want to acknowledge the significant roles they played at school – both have been outstanding contributors and team players and I know their leaving is bittersweet for all of us. We wish them well as they move on to new experiences (and we remind them they are still part of the family!) 

Richelle Mackenzie has been teaching Grade 11 and 12 English at King David for four years and is leaving us to move to San Jose where she hopes to continue teaching. She shared, "The past four years have taught me so much. I remember being nervous at the start and finding more confidence with each year. Thanks to the supportive staff, students, and parents, I have developed an even deeper appreciation for education. The community feeling of King David is contagious, and I will be searching for it in every new school I enter. Thank you for four years of learning, growth, and fun."

Ira Cooper has been our English 8 and 9 and Drama teacher for the last two years. He says, "I would like to thank my fellow teachers and the administration for their endless wisdom and enduring support. Currently, next year is a lot of unknown for me, which I embrace full-heartedly, with bottomless hope, excitement and a pinch of fear, which is, in my experience, the perfect catalytic spice for positive change." 


We must also say goodbye to our shinshinim, Camille and Omer. We are so grateful to them for bringing their bright smiles and enthusiasm to our school, and for sharing their Israeli culture with our students. 

Please click here for a goodbye message from Omer.  




With that, some final thank yous. To all of the frontline workers who have ensured over the past four months that we are all cared for, fed, and healthy – thank you. We are grateful to those who kept working around the clock and putting themselves at risk on our behalf. To everyone in our King David family – students, parents, staff, community members, donors, – thank you! And a special thank you to the King David Board of Directors and Co-Presidents Jackie Cristall Morris and Neville Israel for all of their outstanding work and support all year, but particularly these past few months.
 
Wishing you all good health and happiness – I am grateful to be on this journey with all of you.

Russ Klein

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