Team of administrators worked on new schedule for three years

Beth Tfiloh in Baltimore is one of the schools whose schedules were examined by Shalhevet's Educational Leadership Team.

Beth Tfiloh in Baltimore is one of the schools whose schedules were examined by Shalhevet’s Educational Leadership Team.

By Alec Fields, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Shalhevet’s revamped schedule was developed by what Principal Reb Noam Weissman called the “educational leadership team,” a group comprised of himself, Director of College Counseling Ms. Aviva Walls, General Studies Principal Mr. Daniel Weslow, Dean of Students Mr. Jason Feld, Math Department Chair Katya Malikov, and Judaic Studies teacher Rabbi Ari Schwarzberg.

Reb Weissman said the group meets once a week and discusses ways to improve the school.

“What we’re charged with doing is taking a pulse of what’s going on with the teachers, what’s going on with discipline within the school, what are strategic things we need to be thinking about in terms of education in the school, and, most importantly, always keeping our finger on the pulse of educational research and making sure we’re up to date,” Reb Noam Weissman said in an interview.

He said the group began discussing a new schedule three years ago, and that Ms. Walls started working on it last January.

Part of the planning involved examining schedules at other schools. Reb Weissman said he and Head of School Rabbi Ari Segal visited Orthodox high schools around the U.S., including SAR, Ramaz, Ida Crown, Beth Tefillah and Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington.

General Studies Principal Mr. Daniel Weslow looked at schedules from his previous school, New Roads in Santa Monica, as well as schedules from Crossroads in Santa Monica, Wildwood in West Los Angeles and Viewpoint School in Calabasas. All four are private, secular, college preparatory schools.

“Each year, at every school that I’ve been at, there’s been some type of evolution of the schedule or some minor shifting,” said Mr. Weslow. “I think it just meets the needs for Shalhevet.”

While there was no formal student or faculty input except for the leadership team, Reb Noam Weissman said he considered things he’d heard from throughout the community,  including parents.

“We really spent a lot of time thinking about it, talking about it, hearing what’s going on with students, hearing how parents are perceiving things, teachers are perceiving it, asking them for the feedback,” said Reb Weissman. “This is another demonstration of our creativity and willingness to innovate and not just be paralyzed by status quo.”

He said the Educational Leadership Team did not believe a Town Hall vote or discussion were necessary for this change.

“The job of the Just Community is not to make decisions about pedagogy, but it’s the job of the administration to hear from students and really take a pulse of the school,” said Reb Noam Weissman. “We didn’t take a survey, [but] we’re always speaking to students.

“Students will always hear me informally going to them, ‘What class are you working on right now?'” said Reb Weissman. “‘What are you spending your time on?’ I’m not just making small talk, I really want to get a sense of what students are spending their time on.”

Reb Noam Weissman said the leadership team would get student reactions to the new schedule over the course of the year.

“As with everything, it is our model and our motto that we are interested in learning from students’ perspectives,” said Reb Noam Weissman. “As with everything we expect change to be hard for some people, but we’re always very interested in feedback.”