I’m a small-town Canadian girl who pursued a career in law thinking that I could make a difference. Fast forward, several career paths and a handful of cities later — I’ve now been in Atlanta for 13 years, and for the past seven years as head of school at The Davis Academy, I am doing the most important work imaginable: preparing our community’s Jewish children for their futures. I couldn’t have predicted this if I’d tried.
It’s both an awesome responsibility and a great privilege to change “little lives” each and every day at what is the largest Reform Jewish day school in the country. Our families represent the true diversity of our local Jewish community — speaking a variety of languages at home, composed of every type of family structure, and spanning liberal to traditional, unaffiliated and interfaith.
Unlike when I went to school, learning today is limited only by one’s imagination. Each day I see students connect with peers around the globe via technology, publish books, play in rock bands, design robots, converse fluently in both Hebrew and Spanish, travel to places from Savannah to Israel, study Torah text, and so much more. Thanks to the generosity of our community, our students will soon benefit from new innovative learning spaces with the opening of a highly-anticipated expansion in January that includes a performing arts theatre, chapel, dining hall and kitchen, and several new adaptable classroom spaces.
And I often see something less tangible, but truly vital, happening within our walls. At least half of the families joining the Davis community each year were previously unaffiliated with any Jewish organization, so I am especially proud that our school continues to serve as perhaps Atlanta’s most impactful gateway to Jewish engagement for young families. The results are affirming. Once our children
become inspired, their parents learn alongside, join our weekly joyous Kabbalat Shabbat services, celebrate in our school sukkahs and make latkes together. Their overall commitment to “doing Jewish” deepens and ultimately they join synagogues, get involved in the wider community and support Federation. Over time, Davis children discover Jewish camps, are active in Jewish youth groups, travel to Israel, and serve in leadership roles as teens and young adults.
Some may say that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, but I beg to differ. There’s nothing like a place where hundreds of children and their families (and almost 1,000 graduates and their families) view the world through a modern, joyful and Jewishly-meaningful lens. I couldn’t have predicted my path and am truly blessed to be doing the most important work imaginable: preparing our community’s Jewish children for their futures.