Jewish Day School Professionals Discuss Best Practices at 2nd Annual EDShare Conference

65 Executive Directors and finance professionals representing more than 50 Jewish day schools and over 30,000 students Jewish from throughout the United States participated in the 2nd Annual Executive Directors Share (EDS) Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from November 12-13, where they discussed best practices and shared innovative ideas to tackle challenges that they all face. The EDS Conference, which grew by over 50% since last February’s inaugural event, was organized by the Torah Educators Network (TEN), an organization that serves Jewish educators from coast to coast in ways that their schools cannot do independently.

TEN Founder and Executive Director Rabbi Perry Tirschwell noted that a dozen states were represented at the conference, including California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas. The schools in attendance represented a broad cross section of the Jewish day school community, including both Modern Orthodox and yeshivish institutions.

The recent EDS Conference is the latest installment in the Torah Educators Network’s innovative program offerings for Jewish day school professionals. In June, over 125 leading educators from across the United States came together in Bergen County, NJ to share innovative pedagogic and curricular ideas at TEN’s YHShare Conference, the inaugural symposium of yeshiva high school Judaic Studies teachers.

This year, TEN is increasing its offerings, such as expanding the YHShare Conference to include both middle and high school educators, who will share innovative pedagogic and curricular ideas in Bergen County in June.

This May, TEN will be partnering with NCSY to run YouthCon, which will bring together experiential educators from summer camps, youth groups, day schools and synagogues from across the Jewish spectrum to share effective programming ideas and discuss how to successfully reach this generation of teenagers.

“One of the primary missions of the Torah Educators Network is to facilitate opportunities for educators and other professionals in Jewish day schools to collaborate with their colleagues nationwide in order to further enhance their skills and enrich their understanding of common and complex issues that they all face,” said Tirschwell. “Sharing best practices, learning from other professionals, and staying abreast of the latest trends are invaluable tools in the ever-changing field of Jewish education.”

Session topics at EDS Conference included Current School Legal Issues, Preparing Budget for Boards, Salary Scales, Education Administrator Input into Budgeting, Work-Life Balance, Building Strategic Partnerships with Communal Organizations, Creative Job Descriptions and Positions, Maintaining an Excellent Staff Culture, and Transitioning to a Paperless World. A National Executive Directors Council was formed which will look at additional avenues for cooperation between schools.

“I truly valued the conference,” said Lev R. Stark, Executive Director of Yavneh Hebrew Academy in Los Angeles, CA. “It was a great experience to be in a room full of people who do what I do and can relate to the issues I deal with on a daily basis. It was so well organized, down to the smallest detail.”

“The conference was fantastic, far exceeding the expectation walking in,” said first-time participant Ari Ginian, Executive Director of Yeshiva Ketana of Long Island (NY). “I had a great time and am already looking forward to your next announcement.”

“The TEN Executive Directors Conference led by Rabbi Perry Tirschwell was a wonderful program and truly a breath of fresh air,” said Rabbi Shaya Hauptman, Head of School at Torah Academy of Jacksonville (FL). “It was really unique, engaging and thought-out. Most sessions were moderated by professionals heavily invested in the daily running of Jewish day schools and there wasn’t a dull moment, as the group was heavily involved in every session.”

“It is incredibly helpful to have an extensive network of Jewish day school professionals sharing their experiences, processes, and knowledge,” said Stuart Gasner, Executive Director of Kohelet Yeshiva in Merion Station, PA. “Many schools, irrespective of size, face similar challenges, and having the ability to easily share information and best practices is a powerful resource for schools. I would encourage all Jewish day schools to take part in the wonderful programs being offered by the Torah Educators Network.”

To learn more about the Torah Educators Network, visit www.TorahEducators.net.