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DC with Mrs. Barmach

My name is Jordyn Meltzer and I am an 8th grader here at Kellman Brown Academy. I would like to share a little bit about my DC experience but before I do so, I need to hit rewind and take you back to three years ago when my older sister Gabbi, a KBA graduate, was in my position.Three years ago, I couldn't understand the excitement she had about politics, current events and the then 'g-d awful news'. She talked about this thing called "Barmach" and how she aced "A Barmach test". It seems that all of her friends wanted to do just that! It was a bit scary for me. Let's fast forward to today. I have since learned that Barmach is a person - Mrs. Barmach, our Social Studies teacher. I now understand the excitement about current events and the importance of knowing what's going on in the world around us. I now understand how our leaders impact relationships across the globe. I now understand the importance of voting and making sure the right leaders represent the United States of America. I now understand the "Barmach Thing" and her rigorous push to get us involved and in the know. Mrs. Barmach brings the classroom to life with real world, current events that we can all relate to today. Mrs. Barmach's learnings are often at the heart of our family dinner conversations or as we call them 'political chats' amongst family. She teaches us that any one of us can represent the USA in Washington DC. She believes in us. Yesterday I was able to meet Senator Booker. Senator Booker was the mayor of Newark, NJ and is now one of our Senators. I was very excited to have this opportunity to meet with someone who has the ability to effect change in what happens with New Jerseys laws. Each and every day, I watch and learn about Senator Booker and other politicians in the news. Senator Booker was friendly and I was surprised to hear him speak about how much he knew about Judaism. He even used some Hebrew phrases as he spoke with us. It was comforting to know that someone who represents our state was in touch with Jewish-ness. I can't quite describe the full feeling, but I can say that to have the experience of seeing the politicians in action was exhilarating. To have the ability to watch a bill become law, or not, was empowering. While watching congress in action, I had the honor of sitting next to Mrs. Barmach and the excitement as each senator or congressman walked in was infectious. We saw Senator John McCain and Senator Mitch McConnell to name a few. I am willing to bet you don't all know who Senator Mitch McConnell is, but rest assured the 8th grade class does! I thank my parents and my grandparents for giving me the opportunity to be here at Kellman Brown Academy. I thank Kellman Brown Academy for creating and providing a great learning environment. Last but not least, I thank Mrs. Barmach for being Mrs. Barmach. My sister Gabriella still says you had a great and positive impact in her academic life. I am proud to say that I second her motion. Thank you.

"I've Been Thinking About" - Our Students as Leaders

I’VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT…OUR STUDENTS AS LEADERS January, 2014

As we are in the full thrust of our recruitment and retention season, I am in conversation not only with current and prospective families, but our alumni too as they aid us in the process. When I speak with the alumni, I am struck by their poise and confidence. That’s something that stands out to me even in young adults – their ability to speak eloquently to their former teachers, adults they don’t know, and me – a principal they never had. These are certainly qualities that we hope for in all young adults, and yet I have worked with so many over the years that I know it’s not automatic. These qualities make me think about leadership. We talk about our students as leaders – but what does that mean? Being a student leader is more than being involved in student council as a middle school student, though that is certainly one wonderful leadership opportunity, as is being a captain of our basketball team, or one of the older students in the musical.

On Monday, I took our 8th graders to Harrisburg for day of service and fun with the Silver Academy students with whom we are going to Israel. While on the bus, I asked them what comes to mind when I use the words “students” and “leadership” (I did not plant these). Here were the first two:

• 8th Grade at Kellman Brown Academy • Younger students look up to you as their role model, and you want to be a good role model.

I believe that the everyday learning activities here at KBA help instill leadership qualities that we see in our alumni – confidence, poise, and teamwork. From a very young age students can be found around school leading others in Tefillah, visiting Lion’s Gate and performing for elderly residents. They make allocation decisions at our Mitzvah Mall, give presentations in class, read to adults during Author’s night, they teach and read to younger students, meet and interview politicians, and the list goes on. Are some of these also mitzvot that we are going to do because we’re a Jewish school? Yes. Are some of them indicative of what it means to be a mensch? Absolutely. Should these activities be found in any quality school? Definitely.

So what makes our students and alumni stand out as leaders? The acts of leading tefillot, presenting in front of others, debating each other over important issues are continuous throughout the curriculum. Students learn to advocate for themselves with their teachers. They learn how to be articulate and self-confident in their class presentations.

I did a little searching online for leadership qualities and everywhere from Forbes to Inc.com, ‘communication’ and ‘confidence’ are on the lists. These skills will no doubt be important and useful as our students graduate, go on to high school, college, and beyond. And yet, we are constantly striving to do more for and with our students, particularly as leaders. The Student Ambassador Program is one example. We introduced this new project to 5th-8th graders on our “Be A 6th Grader For A Day,” and it will be officially kicked off next year as students will be trained to speak about and articulate what they love and know about Kellman Brown Academy to potential families, younger students, and any visitors.

What other ideas do you have? What leadership qualities have you seen your child(ren) develop? What other qualities do you hope they will continue to gain? I look forward to hearing what you’ve been thinking – ecook@kellmanbrownacademy.org.