Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Getting to Know You by Getting to Know What You Value

Lori London (6th and 7th grade science) asked a fascinating question as part of her "getting to know you" intake with her students this year. She asked them, "Which Davis value 'speaks' to you the most/strongest and why? RESPECT, COMMUNITY, RIGHTEOUSNESS, WISDOM, & SPIRIT. Below are a collection of their responses. As you read them, consider the diversity of their replies as well as the clarity with which they are able to identify our Menschlichkeit values and relate to them. Knowing that these types of discussions are as likely to take place in a science class as in a Tefilah service sends an incredibly powerful message of interest and shared purpose that helps our students understand that they are an integral part of a greater whole. 

Which Davis value 'speaks' to you the most/strongest and why? RESPECT, COMMUNITY, RIGHTEOUSNESS, WISDOM, & SPIRIT
Spirit speaks to me because I try to always have a high spirit to bring up the other spirits in the room thus making people happy.
Respect because I think that it’s something everyone wants and everyone should give, and because anyone can be respectful, it’s not a special talent that you have acquire you just do it.
Spirit because I enjoy being loud and crazy
Wisdom stands out to me the most because having wisdom can show people to recognize our surroundings and wisdom can prevent difficult situations from getting worse.
Community speaks to me the most because we all need friends to get by in life.
Respect speaks to me because if you do not show respect to someone they will not show it to you.
I really like all the values but I think that spirit is the one that speaks to me the most. Sometimes when other people are sad I feel like there should always be someone to pump up and energize everyone, kind of like a backbone. sometimes people are having a bad day and one little thing can ruin a whole day AND WE ALL KNOW THAT IT IS NICE (oops caps lock) to be cheered up after a long day. I love to see the smile on people’s faces when they are happy. In my opinion if you are happy you will be more creative and will work better.
The Davis value Community speaks to me the most because I think we are and we should act as a big whole.
The strongest Davis value to me is community because without a community we could not give each other ideas or help with tasks at hand.
Community, because once in a while it would be nice to meet up with you classmates and join together for an activity.
The Davis value that speaks to me the most is community. I feel that community is very important because without our community, things would not be the same. Your community should always be there for you when you are in down or in need. Everyone must support and help the community in the best way possible.
The Davis value that speaks to me most is respect because respect is something that each and every person should show every day. Also, students like us should always show respect to teachers, and kids should always respect their friends and parents.
Community speaks to me the most. I feel that everyone should be welcomed into a community no matter what. Community makes sure everyone is included even if they are different.
I feel respect is the one I feel connected to, because I think it is the value that we use in our everyday lives.
Wisdom speaks to me the most strongest out of all of the values because if you have wisdom then you know what and who to respect, you can be a big part of your community, you can be righteous with others, and can have tons of spirit, with just one Davis value!
Community speaks to me the most because we all need people to get by in life.
respect because you should always be respectful
spirit because in my opinion if you’re in a bad mood you are going to have a bad rest of your day
Respect speaks to me the most because I have respect and I give respect and I believe in respect towards other people.
Respect because it is the easiest to show making it easy to do mitzvahs.
Wisdom speaks to me because information could not be handled and spread with wisdom. Also, no one would learn anything.
Community, because it is important to always be together
community because a big part of being Jewish is being in an community. In the community others push you to be your best self.
spirit because to me it is about being positive and I think that is very important and I try to be optimistic
Respect because I think people should respect one another.
Respect because it is extremely important to be respectful to others.
Kavod because people should treat each other how they want to be treated, with respect.
Spirit because you should have a good and positive attitude
Respect because if you do not respect people, people will not respect you.
Spirt because for color war I like to have good spirit
Respect: respect speaks to mean the most out of all 5 of them because you need to respect you friends, family, teachers, and even people you don't know.
Righteousness speaks to me because if you do not do what’s right, it means people are doing bad things to each other.
Respect 'speaks' to me the most because you can use it every day, and it includes so many other important values inside.
community because I love spending time with my friends
spirit speaks to me the most because that's what makes learning if you don't walk in to school with a good spirit than your day won’t go well.
The Davis value community speaks to me because we are surrounded and in communities all over.
Wisdom because you need wisdom to make good decisions in life
Respect speaks to me the most because I believe that everyone and everything should be respected no matter what.
Respect, because I think it is important to respect others, and ourselves
The value of respect speaks to me the strongest because I feel that it is important to respect everyone around you, including your friends, elders and definitely your teachers. I feel that when you respect others in the class, everyone else is more productive.
Community speaks to me the most in one important way. First off, without a Kehilah we would not be able to pick up others when they are down. Without that some people would feel depressed and lonely.
The Davis value that speaks to me the most is wisdom.
The Davis value that speaks to me the most is community because at Davis we are one big community.
Respect shows all of the Davis values
Respect speaks the most to me because I think it is a title for the other ones. The other four values also follow respect.
Respect speaks to me the most because if you don't have respect you will not have a good community and there will be no spirit in the community. Respect is the word that describes all of these words.
respect- because you need to respect your friends, family, teachers, and people you might not know.


In this post, which he wrote for his personal blog, Drew Frank, The Davis Academy's Associate Head of School and Principal, reflects on what it feels like to be a part of a community that unites around core values. If you want additional inspiration, click on the video link embedded in his post. 

Living Our Values

I am beyond a doubt one of the fortunate ones. I work in a place where I am surrounded by caring and passionate individuals, where I am supported and encouraged to continue my love of learning, and where the core values of the organization are in synchronicity with my own core values. This is not a new sentiment for me, as I undoubtedly and unashamedly “drank the Kool-aid” of where I am fortunate enough to work and grow every day.
4 years ago, during Davis Academy’s 22nd year, our school community took part in a reflective process of assessing the values of the school. We engaged many different groups of stakeholders including students, parents, grandparents teachers, and community leaders. We wanted the values that we selected to represent our school to be both a snapshot of who we are and who we aspire to be. The end result of a great process led us to our 5 core values: Wisdom, Spirit, Respect, Community and Righteousness.
The 4 years following this process have shown incredible advancements in the school. We have celebrated growth in our program and school curriculum; the opening of our new state-of-the-art theatre, dining halls, chapel and learning spaces; and the continued successes of our students and alumni. The core values were at the heart of all of these successes, though their presence was in many ways akin to a fish’s appreciation for water. This is not to say that there were not opportunities or lessons where we were intentional about naming them, rather the pervasiveness of their impact was not given a proportional representation in our intentional talk.
And now, I get to start year 18 with all the energy and passion expressed in my first paragraph above, but with the added bonus of a school theme of “Living Our Values.” The first act of our 2018-19 school year was for our teachers to return to school with supplies and well wishes which were donated to teachers in another school in town without the same resources. As it is our goal for our students to aspire to make the world a little bit kinder and a little bit better, it was nice for us to model this behavior right from the start.   Rabbi Lapidus and I shared this similar message with our middle school students on the first day of school . It is our goal that these values “Wisdom, Spirit, Respect, Community and Righteousness” are both descriptive of who you are and a directive of who and how you should be. We ended our first gathering with this warm hearted video about the power of kids to “Make the Difference.”

I look forward to the incredible year ahead, which will be intentional with the discussion of, the learning about, and the living of our values.

Monday, July 2, 2018

A most inspiring alumni graduation address

One of the highlights of our 2018 Davis Academy graduation was the speech delivered by Kelsey Rogut (TDA Class of 2004). Full of wisdom and meaningful perspective, the speech so clearly shows how the bonds of community extend far beyond a student's time at school. Posted here are Drew Frank's introduction of Kelsey followed by her remarks. 

Introduction of Speaker

It is with great pride that I now invite to the podium a graduate of The Davis Academy class of 2004, Kelsey Rogut. After attending Riverwood High School, Kelsey traveled to New Orleans to attend Tulane University, where she graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree as well as a Master of Arts Degree. Following graduation, Kelsey moved back to Atlanta to begin her career. She is currently working at The Home Depot corporate headquarters as an Instructional Designer, where she is responsible for designing and developing Enterprise Leadership training materials for the company. Kelsey serves as the Vice Chair of  Development of Women’s Link, a women’s group at The Home Depot. In her spare time, she volunteers with the Society of Human Resources Managers to put on events for HR practitioners, and she will be speaking at the Association of Talent Development ACE conference in August of this year. It is my honor and privilege to invite Kelsey to come and address the class of 2018.

Kelsey Rogut's Remarks

Graduates, faculty and staff, parents, family, and friends,
I am so honored to be here today speaking with you all. This is a very special place, and this is a very special day for ALL of you.
Fourteen years ago, I was seated where you all are seated now.
Well, not quite. This beautiful theater sits where the all-school picture “hill” used to be. My graduating class in 2004 was only 20 students. My Kindergarten year was in the basement of the Junior Achievement building on Abernathy, and I was at the ribbon cutting when this building opened. This place is a big part of my past, but I’m here to tell you all that it is also a part of my present and will remain in my future as well.
In the audience today is my best friend, Ilana. She and I met on the first day of Kindergarten—we both cried so intensely we had to be separated from the other kids—and we stuck together ever since. This past October, I had the privilege of signing the Ketubah at her wedding.
I share my past with you because this is a big day, and I remember it well. It’s the closing of an important chapter of your lives and the beginning of a new adventure. I was a Davis “lifer” – nine years here—and I remember feeling ready to leave, excited for high school, and a little sad all at the same time. Everyone handles big changes differently, so stick together and look out for each’s really easy because I’m sure you all have cell phones glued to your hands! I was in the 9th grade when I finally got a flip phone, so be really grateful you weren’t me…
Fast-forwarding to today, I design and develop leadership training at The Home Depot headquarters. My job is to grow and develop leaders so the people who work for them are happy and productive at work. Leadership is not about being the best and winning: it’s about positively influencing the people around you to be their best. Mr. Frank let me know that Davis now has a leadership development program, and I’m thrilled you had such early exposure to these lessons: carry them with you always! Leadership is NOT a title: it’s a way of behaving; this means you can be a leader where ever you are, both quietly in how you treat others and loudly when you decide to get involved and take action. The secret I’ll share with you today is that leadership lessons don’t change as you get older, so the leaders who go through my training are breaking bad habits instead of continuing good ones. Don’t lose sight of what you’ve learned here.
 So now, in true graduation fashion, I have four quick pieces of advice for you all. This advice was inspired by leadership training, things I wish I knew 14 years ago, and things I live by now:
1.       First: some people say nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy…and I slightly disagree. It’s true that you will have to work hard for the things you really want, but that hard work makes the win feel so much better. However, I’ve learned that this rule does NOT apply to friendships or relationships. Leaders surround themselves with people who make them feel strong and confident. Don’t surround yourself with people who make you feel small and who want to dim your light!
2.       Second: if it’s over, let it go. I promise you: drama is a huge waste of time and energy, and you will not remember it in the future. I even researched this: I read my journal from the 8th grade, and I ASSURE you that I don’t remember a single piece of the drama I wrote down. Don’t waste your energy on small things…and if it seems big now, it will hopefully pass quickly only to be forgotten. Great leaders rise above and keep moving forward.
3.       Third: you get what you give. Give to others because you want to make their lives better. If it won’t make their lives better, think really carefully before giving it to them. Great leaders evaluate what they do by asking, “What would this feel like if I was in their shoes?”
4.       Fourth and finally: you had a really special childhood at Davis—you’ll soon learn it was more special than most. You are cherished and loved by this community, and this is such a proud day for everyone here. Keep making the people you love proud, and keep making yourself proud. Great leaders appreciate others and say thank you.
Before I end my speech, I want to dedicate it to a very special friend of mine. When I was in the 7th grade, Davis participated in a student hosting program with an organization called ORT in which we had 20 Argentine students come study at Davis for three months. Fara Rustein was my “buddy” – I was assigned to look out for her and ensure she was happy. She became a best friend. I made her a promise as we said goodbye that I would go to Buenos Aires and see her…so seven years later, in 2010, I studied abroad in college in Buenos Aires. She embraced me with the same kindness and generosity Davis had shown her years ago, and she made me feel safe and happy just like we had. She passed away from leukemia three years ago, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. So, standing in the building where I met her, and I want to express my profound appreciation to this school for bringing her into my life. She changed me for the better, and she was changed for the better by this place.
As I said when I started this speech: this place is very special, and it will continue to be a blessing throughout your lives—in big, signing-the-Ketubah-at-you-best-friend’s-wedding ways, and in smaller ways, like running into an old classmate and they still know the names of your family members. So, hug your family and friends extra hard today, thank them for their support, and feel very fortunate that you were loved and cared for at Davis.
To quote the book I got at my 8th grade graduation  “You’re off to great places / today is your day! / Your mountain is waiting, / so get on your way!”
Mazel tov, everyone!