Overland Park is said to have excellent public schools, in case you hadn’t heard.
So clearly, you are looking for more than high test scores.
The students at HBHA get high test scores too, but they achieve them through a different educational process. We teach our kids to be critical thinkers and lovers of learning. We get them there by hiring inspiring teachers and supporting students as they master their disciplines.
On top of that we teach our kids the skills, content and mindset of being Jewish.
We know that life is better in a community. We know what it means to feel connected to a people through time and space. We know how it feels to share a common destiny. It gives our life continuity, meaning, and purpose.
I could be wrong, but I’m guessing that this is why you choose to send your kids to Jewish day school. High test scores are nice, but they aren’t destiny, purpose, or peoplehood. This is the gift you give your children every day.
I know your kids might not appreciate the gift you give them. But someday they will realize that you turned the obligation of going to school into the privilege of going to a Jewish day school. On their behalf, we want to thank you.
What’s the perfect size for a school?
I want a school that is small enough for teacher to know students personally and keep a close eye on their academic and social life, but big enough that kids have a diversity of teachers to learn from.
I want a school that is big enough to have a variety of sports, but small enough that every kid gets real playing time.
I want a school that is big enough for kids to keep meeting new kids, and have a rich social life, but small enough that they know and feel comfortable with kids older and younger than them.
I want a school that feels vibrant and exciting, but at the same time, safe and intimate.
On Wednesday I experienced my first HBHA pep rally. The kids cheered for each other, did relay races together, and laughed together as I (and several high school students) got pies in the face. It was a joyous experience and really cool to see full grown seniors and tiny Kindergartners working together in partnership. I was blown away by both the diversity and the unity; by the vibrancy and the warmth.
HBHA is small but mighty. It’s the Goldilocks school. Not too big and not too small. Juuuust right.
In the 3rd Century BCE, the brilliant Greek mathematician and inventor Archimedes was perplexed by a riddle. Two crowns were forged, one with all gold and one with some silver mixed into it. They looked and felt the same. How could one tell the difference between the two and discover which one was pure gold?
As he sat down in his bath and watched the water rise, Archimedes realized that every object has its own specific weight per volume. At this moment, he discovered the principle of density, and as legend has it, was so excited by this original idea, he ran through the streets screaming “Eureka, eureka!” meaning “I have found it!” still naked from his bath.
That is the power and excitement of having an original idea. The enthusiasm and emotion make us want to run and scream “Eureka!” (Keep your clothes on though!)
Several years ago, a friend of mine told me that scientists were trying to understand what happens to the brain when one has an original thought. The problem - he explained to me - was that they wired their subjects up with sensors, and then didn’t know how to get them to have an original thought.
“Easy!” I told him, “Just get them to study Torah!”
My friend, who also happens to be a religious atheist, bristled at the idea. “Are you saying studying Torah is the only way to have an original idea?”
“No,” I explained. “But studying Torah is an essentially creative act in which one has many original ideas. One reads an ancient text and thinks about how it reflects on modern life, or one’s own personal experiences. One looks for connection to other texts, or tries to think about how a mis-spelled word might be hinting at a greater spiritual truth. Every time I read Torah I have original thoughts, because I am the one making the connections. No one can think like me.”
This is one of the powers of a Jewish Day School. We have a ready-made tool for generating original thoughts. While most kids can spend days, weeks, or even months learning facts, practicing mathematical equations, and writing 4-paragraph essays, our students have another dimension to their education: Torah. Every week, they are asked to understand our ancient text; but more so, they are asked to reflect on it, relate to it and use their creative intelligence to make Torah new again. Torah adds a level of creativity, complexity, and originality that enriches the mind in deep and profound ways.
If you are looking for a great school…
What is a partnership?
A partnership is two parties that are working together for a common purpose.
A partnership means both parties work hard to achieve their purpose, but often fulfill different responsibilities to get the job done.
Partnership doesn’t mean agreeing on everything. It does mean that both parties agree to disagree - after all, their disagreements pale in comparison to their agreements.
Partnership means you know someone has your back.
At HBHA, we are proud to partner with you in raising your children to be thoughtful, kind, hardworking, knowledgeable, innovative, resourceful, resilient, creative, curious, ambitious young adults and Jews.
Today is the beginning of our first parent-teacher conferences for the school year. We hope that you will see how committed we are to giving your children the same love, guidance and support you give them at home. If you should have any doubts, we hope you will communicate with us - in the spirit of partnership. We aim to provide nothing short of the best education to our students and support to our families. If we fall short of that goal, we want to work harder. We know you would do anything for your kids, and we will too.
I went to public school. It was one of the finest public schools in the country at the time and I was surrounded by brilliant students and caring fantastic teachers. I received a great education and came to be passionate about Judaism in college. It was then that I began to really learn Hebrew and become more observant - eventually moving to Israel, studying in Yeshiva, etc.
Yesterday I was privileged to observe my first HBHA Bat Mitzvah. It was incredibly impressive - moving in fact - to see our students leading the service and reading Torah in a way that seemed so natural to them. I had trouble imagining my own children standing at the Bima in the coming years, proudly leading the school in prayer. But then last night my boys broke into song, singing the Birkat HaMazon from start to finish, which to be frank, they didn’t learn from me.
I’ve worked hard to become a knowledgeable and skillful Jew, but despite (or perhaps because of) my excellent public school education, I’ve never felt comfortable doing what HBHA teenagers are nonchalantly practicing every day. I am proud be to be able to offer something to my children that I didn’t have myself: The skills of living a Jewish life. The sound of Hebrew language, song, and prayer. A community of diverse thinkers sharing a common history and destiny.
Thank you for creating this special community and school which my family benefits from every day, and for trusting me to ensure your children continue to receive the gift of a Jewish education at HBHA.