(Issued January 2014) -- In one room, children devised an original rhythmic beat in a ‘drum circle.’ In another room, kids developed Rube Goldberg-style inventions from recyclable materials. And in another, students stood before a green screen and created videos that magically placed them in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Although it was Sunday, a lot of learning was happening. (But don’t tell the kids!)
Scores of families attended the Creative Kids Festival, a first-of-its-kind event designed “to unleash the creative spark within every child.” The program was sponsored by Kehillah Schechter Academy (KSA), an innovative K – 8 Jewish day school in Norwood (MA).
“With engaging workshops, spontaneous performances and colorful displays, the multi-disciplinary festival provided an opportunity to showcase the creative work of our talented students and teachers,” said Dr. Nancy Hait, festival coordinator and head of KSA’s Literacy Curriculum program. She said the festival was inspired by a series of Creatrilogybooks by Peter Reynolds that inspire children to express themselves and discover ‘the artist in us all.’ This power of individual, creative thinking perfectly aligns with KSA’s mission,” she said,
KSA Co-Head Dr. Nitzan Resnick, a former Harvard University researcher, noted that “The 21st century is an era of an outburst of creativity and innovation.” Quoting sociologist Erich Fromm, she added, “’Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties’ -- one of the prime lessons we impart to our students.” She added, “A truly innovative aspect of the festival is the way students learned how to combine multiple disciplines such as math and music, math and storytelling, Science and folk tales, etc.”
During the festival, Lexington conceptual artist/sculptor and KSA artist-in-residence Dan Trajman inspired visitors of all ages through the creation of visual art by collecting height and age data that was charted on the wall. “Here’s a way to describe the community visually while asking ‘What is a work of art?’” Illustrative of the multi-disciplinary angle, Ariel Margolis, KSA’s 7th and 8th grade Science and Instructional Technology teacher, noted that the data pasted to the Trajman’s wall art could also be used in a unit on statistics. Margolis also displayed his class’s personalized learning project in which students ask their own vexing question, then research the answers and create a report in any format to share with classmates.
Video production lessons were provided by Jason Daniels who runs Easton’s cable TV studio. The ‘Rube Goldberg’ invention session was led by Laura Mernoff, noted scenic artist, sculptor and muralist. The drum circle and ‘instrument petting zoo’ were organized by Ken Faria who has led KSA’s music department for 20 years.
In the gym, students climbed a rock wall in the school gym created by 5th and 6th graders in teacher Steve Greenberg’s introduction to engineering.
Dr. Resnick observed that, “In recent years, educators have come to understand more clearly that creativity can be taught and nurtured. Creativity fosters deeper learning, builds confidence, and creates a student ready for college and career.” She said the festival reflected a focus in KSA classrooms, in all grades and subjects, in which students are encouraged to ask new questions to build upon an idea, synthesize ideas in original and surprising ways, communicate ideas in new ways, and brainstorm multiple ideas and solutions.”
Organizer Nancy Hait said, “It was wonderful to see so many children from our own school along with new children from the larger community. There is so much to be excited about at our amazing school. This event is just one example.”
In keeping with a major tenet of Judaism and a KSA concept that every individual has a duty to repair a small piece of the world (‘tikkun olam’ in Hebrew), students organized a display, Bracelets 4 Haiti, where they sold bracelets made by KSA students. “We’re sending the money we raise to an orphanage for kids who lost parents in the Haiti earthquake,” one girl said proudly. “We’re helping people who aren’t as fortunate as us.”
KSA Co-Head Rabbi David Paskin was pleased with the turnout and the enthusiasm and excitement that filled the school. He said the festival was both a way to dramatically show parents KSA’s unique approach to education, and a way to attract new families as the school kicks off its 2014-15 recruitment campaign.
Accredited by the Association of Independent Schools in New England (AISNE), KSA has earned a national reputation for excellence in Judaic and General Studies, including a strong science and math program. Now in its 25th year, KSA attracts boys and girls in grades pre-K- 8 from 20 communities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Graduates thrive at many of the region’s leading public and independent schools.
Parents who want to see if they are eligible for tuition subsidies at KSA through the “Th!nk Boldly about Day School” Campaign are invited to visit www.discoverdayschool.org. For enrollment information: 781-769-5555. KSA’s website is www.ksa-ne.org.
By Stanley Hurwitz firstname.lastname@example.org/ 508-269-0570
PHOTO CAPTIONS ( Credit: Photos by Devorah Daniels )