Friday, April 03, 2020

A typical school day offers much more than academic subjects—it offers social connection, physical education, spiritual uplift, communal tefillah, extracurricular programming, meeting with mentors and just plain fun. Ma’ayanot has successfully moved its courses online and is maintaining student learning and assessments, but has also striven to maintain social connection by integrating communal, spiritual and extracurricular opportunities into its virtual school.

With Erev Shabbat Ruach, students get into the Shabbat spirit with a dvar Torah, music and sharing praise over Zoom chat for their friends’ dancing. On Tuesday, March 17, Ma’ayanot held a virtual talent show. Students and faculty showed off talents as varied as shofar-blowing, performing an original rap about distance learning, a mother-son piano-violin duet (starring Associate Principal Tamar Appel and son) and virtual “Chopped” with Director of Guidance Dr. Rayzel Yaish. Other opportunities for fun and relaxation included a session on healthy meal prep with Ma’ayanot nutrition teacher Coach Gila Guzman, and a history department movie night. Physical education teachers have been sharing workouts and the guidance department has offered suggestions on maintaining mental health while at home.

For individuals and small groups seeking to connect, Bailey Braun, dean of Students, and Nina Bieler, ninth grade dean, have invited students into their virtual offices, leaving their “Zoom rooms” open during breaks so students can drop in. Individual teachers are also hosting lunch meetups for students.

In the spiritual realm, Ma’ayanot offers morning tefillah over Zoom, which builds a sense of community and spirituality. Virtual mishmar, night seder and parsha clubs strive to replicate Ma’ayanot’s Torah-learning opportunities, and, in a student-initiated project, a student shares an audio or video dvar Torah with the school daily. In a time of uncertainty, connecting to each other and to Hashem can be an anchor and a comfort.