Weekly Newsletter – June 25, 2021

Every year is different, and that is one of the things that makes teaching such a stimulating profession. However, “different” does not even begin to describe what this year was like in our building and I think there is no one among us at King David who could not have used a little less stimulation. I am sure the same goes for all of you! One piece of joy is that many of us acquired new family numbers in the form of our COVID puppies – and although they do cost a bit of money, there will not be any Jewish Day School tuition needed and there is no way they eat as much as a teenager (though over the course of the pandemic, I do think many of us tried).

The truth is, we had a great year at King David and as much as things were different, our staff kept things safe and familiar for our students. There is simply not enough in the praise bucket to pour out for our staff this year. From the first day, they prioritized supporting each other and our students. They focused on each and every student intently, built a connection with them, and showed them that they were there for them by really showing flexibility and firmness – just the right balance. They kept each other sane and made it work for our students – which is not easy when you are trying to remain two metres away from students and they are all wearing masks (the joke around the school is that we will not recognize the students next year if they are without masks).

I am not going to recap the year for you – it exists in all of the wonderful Friday Newsletters you have received. I do want to thank you, our supporters, for all you’ve done, be it being our ambassadors, emotional supporters, or financial donors – our kids are here because of your care. The same goes for our dedicated Board of Directors, who work quietly and so diligently in the background ensuring we operate with integrity and with our mission and vision clear and in focus.  

How does your support translate? Our students love King David (OK, “love” might be an exaggeration to apply to all, but they “really like it”, or “like it”, or “can manage it” or “will come anyway” – they are teenagers, how do I know how they feel?) The math shows this. We have one student leaving next year to go to another school and two who are leaving Canada. This is a 98% student retention rate. Add to that a full incoming Grade 8 class and 60 new students in total, we are looking to have the highest enrolment in our school’s history. That is because of you.

Click on the video below to see some of what we’ve been up to this year.
Looking forward, we have some exciting changes coming. This summer, we are getting back on track preparing to expand our site by adding custom-built modular classrooms and changing rooms behind the school. Construction should start next spring and be ready for opening in the fall of 2022. Longer-term, we’re excited for more growth with the JCC Community Hub of which King David is a key participant with the JCC and Jewish Federation – there is so much to look forward to and so much gratitude!

Thank you to The Gordon Diamond Family for recognizing our immediate need and offering to fund the perfect interim solution — an extra 3500 square feet of space in brand new, bright and airy, custom-built learning pods designed to complement our existing building.

Todah Rabah to the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver and the Jewish Community Foundation for their additional support – not just financially, but also emotionally and by showing that our effort is appreciated.
 
Internally, we are so grateful to have had few staff changes (please see our l’hitraots below) and are looking forward to working a full school year with our Assistant Head of School, Anne Bonnycastle. We have so much we want to accomplish for our students and we will be sharing our new strategic plan with you as well – COVID has delayed some of our work but not stopped or dampened our enthusiasm to be even better.

Before I leave this message – and I know it was long – I want to recognize our 58 graduates. They are remarkable young adults who are leaving with a strong sense of identity, a delight in lifelong learning, empathy for others and a passion for improving the world. We have learned much from them, and with them, and they will be missed.

Thanks to you, we had our most successful fundraising year ever and that means more support for students. Our Golden Thread Gala made the difference – it was a ton of hard work and fun, and the short video included will hopefully bring a smile to you as you remember that night.

Click here to see some Gala highlights.

Have a wonderful summer – back soon…but not too soon!
Russ
With the school year almost at an end, we must say farewell to three King David staff. We want to acknowledge the significant roles they played at school – they have been outstanding contributors and team players and we wish them well as they move on to new experiences!
Elana Freedman

Elana has taught Judaic Studies at King David for the past five years, and she will be teaching at VTT next year. Elana shared, “My time at King David has been filled with growth, learning, knowledge and love. It is with bittersweet emotions that I move down the road to VTT, where I hope to teach many future King David students. I look forward to collaborating with the King David family whenever possible, and I wish my students and colleagues all of the very best. Thank you for everything!” 
Felipe Goldbach

Felipe graduated from King David in 2017 and has been working with us this year to help in the Skills Department as a Student Resource Specialist. Felipe is returning to UVic in the fall to complete his degree in Engineering. He said, “I cannot express in words how meaningful this past year has been. I am so glad I decided to take this gap year from university to come back to my old home. I’ve learned so much from both my colleagues and the students, and I’ll be sure to take these lessons with me into my next year. I whole-heartedly appreciate having this opportunity – it is one I will never forget!”
Breanne Rogers

Breanne has been our Communications Coordinator for the past six years, and is leaving to attend SFU’s Teacher Education program. She said, “These years at King David have been such a wonderful experience. Leaving is a very bittersweet feeling for me; I am excited to start this new adventure, but I will miss my King David family. The students and staff are what have inspired me to become an educator, and I am lucky to have been learning from such incredible people these past years. The Jewish values I have come to admire – chesedmenschlichkeit, and tikkun olam – can only prove to be an invaluable addition to my life going forward.”
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