The Monthly Roar, September 5th, 2014

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Letter From the Head of School

“The instructions are as follows: You are not allowed to speak. In your group of four, use only straws and masking tape to build a structure. The group building the highest freestanding structure wins. You have 20 minutes. Go!

This is a favorite activity of mine. One I use with middle school students. They love it! After the 20-minute time limit for building is up, the class debriefs.

We discuss what strategy worked well and what in their efforts caused frustration. Immediately, the need of a solid base is recognized, yet students struggle, especially without the liberty of speaking, to discover which foundation design will work best. Without a strong foundation, the resulting structure is rather forlorn. Picture the Leaning Tower of Pisa with a base only minimally weaker than the one it currently rests upon.

Although a bit of a stretch, I hope you will allow me to draw a similarity between this activity and AJA. We have the necessary tools to do our work: an outstanding faculty, an innovative project-based curriculum, great kids, and new opportunities that regularly present themselves. We do, however, recognize one flawed ingredient, which is hampering us from achieving our full potential. We have not clearly defined our expectations. Fortunately, with your support, we can successfully re-culture the school. All it will take is a little fortitude and some follow through.

This summer we geared up to kick off our “Toeing the Line” campaign. During the Faculty Pre-service, a major focus was clarifying expectations. Expectations of each other, the administration, student behavior, and yes, expectations teachers have for you, the parents. We have hammered out these expectations and since the first day of school, have begun to put them all into place with much success.

Why is this important? Our mission statement states that Jewish values and traditions guide our work. One Jewish value, derekh eretz which literally means the “the way of the world” emphasizes basic consideration and respect for others. I found it described on a United Synagogue Youth’s website as “Life’s Instruction Book” for proper conduct and common courtesy or behaving with menschlechkeit.” Stated another way, a colleague shared this quote with me, “Rules are values put into action. They show children what values look like, how to put them into practice, and why they are important. If we want children to embrace our values, we need to teach them what these values are and how to implement them in their lives. Rules become a good vehicle to teach children what is most important to us.”

Clearly stated expectations create an environment of respect, set the stage for success, and avoid misunderstandings. Whether child or adult, this is the community standard we aspire to at AJA.

Please support our faculty by adhering to these newly articulated expectations:

5 Habits of Successful AJA Parents

  • Trust and respect the teacher. If there is a question or concern, please contact the teacher first.
  • Respect school rules and procedures by modeling appropriate behavior.
  • Support and encourage your child’s own learning.
  • Make school a priority for your child. Bring them on time and prepared to learn.
  • Partner with teachers and the school.


Save the Date

  • Thursday, September 11th Elementary School Back to School Night- 6:00 pm to 7:45 pm, beginning in the JCC Community Hall
  • Tuesday, September 16th Middle School Back to School Night
  • Wednesday, September 24th Erev Rosh Hashanah- full school day
  • Thursday & Friday, September 25th and 26th Rosh Hashanah– school closed
  • Monday, September 29th Student Learning Conferences- noon dismissal
  • Tuesday, September 30th Parent Institute- Parenting the Growing Brain. Speaker: Carrie Contey, Ph.D. 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm at Temple Beth Shalom.
  • Friday, October 3rd Erev Yom Kippur– noon dismissal

Congratulations, Condolences and Tributes

  • Cheryl Hersh made the following donations:
    o Mazal Tov to Aileen and John Duncan on the birth of their grandchild!
    o Mazal Tov to Jeff Horwitz on being voted the #1 pediatric surgeon in Austin!
    o Cheryl made a donation to the library in honor of Mitchell Worob’s Bar Mitzvah.
    o In honor of Lindsay Gregg’s new baby
  • In honor of the birth of Jack Kahn and his family: David, Andrea, Jonathan and Allie, donations were received from:
    o Cheryl Hersh
    o Barbara Lowenstein
    o Sara Blatt
    o Andrea Kalmans
  • Greg Sapire made a donation in memory of his grandmother’s cousin – Ruth Newfield.
  • Our condolences to the family of Sandy L. Herrin, brother of Barbara Tocker, – an early benefactor of our library and grandparent of two AJA graduates.

What’s Happening at AJA?

  • AJA welcomed back all our incredible students Monday, August 25th. We are off to a fabulous start and are looking forward to an amazing year with your children. Check out our MaccaBees on the first day of school!

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  • Asayfaht Boker We begin a new tradition this year with our morning assembly. Together, we can start the day as part of a community committed to learning, fun, and inspiring change!

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  • AJA will be hosting its first Parenting Institute Event, “Parenting the Growing Brain”, on September 30th with speaker Carrie Contey, Ph.D. This event is open to the public. Tickets are available to AJA parents with a suggested donation of $10, general public may purchase tickets for $12 on our website. Click Here to Learn More
  • We are flashing across the home page of Texas Private Schools!

Support AJA
Scrip is an essential part of the AJA’s fundraising program and a very easy way for our parents to do their part in supporting our wonderful school. Scrip cards are purchased at face value and Austin Jewish Academy receives a rebate from the vendor.

Scrip cards can be purchased daily in the AJA office, in the lobby on Friday mornings, or even during curbside pick-up on Mondays. You can also, go online to to purchase scrip from hundreds of participating vendors. Using ScripNow!â„¢ is a great and easy way to purchase your Scrip, right from home! Once your account is set up, following the instructions on the website, you can just purchase Scrip and print out the codes or use them online to make your purchases. An easy way to do your shopping and help our school at the same time! You can even send your child with a completed Scrip Order Form or fill out an Authorization Agreement and have scrip cards pre-authorized and sent to your home.

Want to learn more about scrip? Contact the Advancement office at 512-735-8374 or send an email to

Library Book Donation – Recognize an event, milestone or someone special by purchasing a book from the Library wish list. A book plate will be placed in the donated book. The student you are honoring will be able to choose from the newly purchases collection (not yet received). He/she will be the first to check the book out and it will be presented at Kabbalat Shabbat. Alternatively an acknowledgement letter will be sent to any non-student who is being honored.
Want to learn more? Contact the front office at 512-735-8350 or e-mail

Please join us

Parents are welcome and encouraged to attend Kabbalat Shabbat on Fridays from 8:00-8:30am! We would also like to encourage all students to wear white shirts on Friday to give AJA that special Shabbat feeling.

Alumni News

    • Welcome back to Austin alumna, Noa Schwarzer! Noa, class of 2002, has been living in Israel for the last 8 years. After serving in the IDF for two years, she completed her BA in ESL Education. Noa plans to apply to a master’s program at UT.

Please send in alumni news for inclusion in future MaccaBees.

What’s Happening in the Community?

  • We are excited to have our annual Sukkot event on the evening of Tuesday October 14th from 5:30-7:30 on the front lawn of the JCC. We will have music by Mazel Tov Kocktail Hour, children’s choirs, mini educational sessions, food, family activities and more.
  • We invite you to set up your Sukkah beginning Sunday October 5 with take-down on October 19. We would like to have as many sukkah’s on the lawn as possible and look forward to seeing your unique design.
  • Don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen this Rosh Hashana? Would you like to spend more time enjoying your guests? One of our wonderful AJA parents Galit Zadok, who is an incredibly talented chef, is offering a special price for AJA families to receive a delicious kosher meal prepared with love by hand this Rosh Hashanah. She has generously offered to donate 5% from each Family order to our school, Austin Jewish Academy.

Each person who orders will receive a home baked honey challah, a taste from the blessing plate, a fish starter, three salads, one main dish entrée, two sides, and a desert. $40/ per person, and minimum 4 people per order. Orders are accepted no later than September 16th. For orders or questions, please email Galit Zadok at or chat with her during pick up!

Gluten Free Pizza
Would your child like gluten free pizza on Fridays? We have a student who would like to order but only wants a half of the pizza, and we’re looking for another student who would like to share. The cost for the half would be $8.00 per student and includes salad and fruit. Please let us know if you would like to participate.


The Flu Fight Clinic is postponed. It is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, October 21.
It’s not too late to signup:


On behalf of the staff at AJA we would like to wish you and your families a Shabbat Shalom!