2018-2019 ISSUE 3—All About Middle School 5778-5779
It’s All About Relationships, p. 2 Faculty Feature, p. 3 Middle School
"Middle school is a big
step towards your
future--when you really
begin learning for your
career in general
and what you want to
become. Your grades
from middle school affect
you in a big way!"
--Irish Meyers (7th)
Transitions, p. 6-7 "Middle school is a
bridge to me, it's neither
A Day in the Life, p.4 learning how school
works, like in elementary,
or getting overloaded
with work like in high
--Gabe Paz (8th)
“Middle school has
helped me realize how
capable I am of working
--Rebecca Phelps (6th)
Jewish Identity in the Middle Years, p. 5 The Middle School Pack “To me, middle school
p. 7 means that we have
three years to learn how
“Teaching middle school is an adventure not a job.” to work hard and behave
—Angela K. Bennett , Educator in preparation for high
school, and more
importantly, in life.”
--Ethan Vanderwalde (6th)
IN MIDDLE SCHOOL IT’S ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS
Psychologist Erik Erikson puts middle
schoolers between the fourth and ﬁfth
stages of development; moving from
cognitive development to deﬁning
one’s identity. It is a time of transition
and middle schoolers experience a wide
variety of social, emotional and physical
During these transitional years, peers administration of the need to make use of closely-knit unit. We teach them to accept
rather than parents become the source the dynamics of the group. each others ﬂaws and celebrate each
of ﬁrst, if not greatest inﬂuence. This is In a smaller school like Bornblum, by others successes.
true at home and at school causing the middle school, everyone knows what The Student-Teacher Relationship
relationship between students and makes each other happy or sad or upset. According to middle school teacher
teachers and students and their peers to Life is personality driven---and perhaps Deanna McAlexander, “Being a teacher in
evolve. And although these changes circumstance driven. Students know all of middle school is simultaneously
upend long-standing family and school their peers’ “hot buttons.” They have a exhausting and rewarding.” As students’
norms, they also provide a unique wealth of stories, both good and bad, responsibilities increase, they sometimes
opportunity to have a long-term impact about each other and the group in experience more stress, and even at times,
on middle school students. general. Part of the mission in Bornblum’s failure. Our middle school teachers
Recognizing the changes inherent in middle school is to allow students space recognize the value of both. Stress and
this time in students’ lives, Bornblum to reinvent themselves and to become “safe” failures allow students to
proactively 1) provides a “safe” who they want to be rather than just a understand the direct relationship
environment for the transition out of mirror of who they have been. between their actions and outcomes.
childhood and 2) engages middle With this in mind, students may elect to The transition of the middle school
school students in developing their break out of expected norms and try new teachers to a more facilitative role is
individual identities. attitudes, hairdos, sports or other activities critical in helping students to focus on
Evolving Student Relationships that separate them from what they long-term growth, even as they are
Succeeding in fostering identity typically have looked like or found adopting and adapting to new study skills,
development among middle schoolers fascinating. This disturbance to the group time management skills, testing
depends on understanding and dynamic may be met by other students strategies, social norms, emotional roller
embracing the changing relationships and parents with relief, suspicion or push coasters and physical changes to their
between students and their peers. The back, depending upon the shift. Feeling bodies. Emerging from all of this change
elevation of a peer’s opinion can either be extremely comfortable with each other, with a healthy self-image and
viewed as leading to negative peer sometimes the class, like a family, can understanding of who they are and what
pressure, or it can be captured to enhance choose to be supportive or judgmental, they believe is in no small measure a
the lessons being taught at school. In but at the end of the day, they are a result of hard work by teachers to help
middle school at Bornblum, there is wide students reﬂect on the changes they are
open space where students can learn from experiencing.
each other with teachers stepping back
into a more facilitative role. And there is a
deep understanding by faculty and
GETTING TO KNOW MORAH HERSHKOVITZ
Tamar Hershkovitz was born in Once in Memphis, Morah Hershkovitz had both of her
Tel Aviv, Israel and grew up by clohoilkdirnegnfeonr raojlolebdthinatthweoMulJdCaCllporwe-hsBMecohrrrsont.oobPllsu.atmSauhyl’asecAlGworrstaeeTseetnoabchehreegrr
the Yarkon River Park which children. She joined the teaching staff at the MJCC and
ends in the Mediterranean. taught pre-k for seven years.
Morah Hershkovitz, as she is In 2006, Morah Hershkovitz moved to Bornblum and has
now known, spent many of her been teaching here for the last 12 years.
childhood days walking to the
beach and back through this Q&A WITH MORAH HERSHKOVITZ
park. Today, she really misses the beach, especially at
sunset. When you aren’t teaching, what do you like to do?
After high school, Morah Hershkovitz was drafted to the When I’m not teaching, in nice weather I’m taking long
army like all children in Israel, and she served in a tank walks in the park. I know every corner and path in and out of
division in the desert. When the Shlom Hagalil War the woods in Shelby Farms. When I’m home I like to listen to
began and her division moved to the North, she left and lectures from the Israeli universities that are broadcasting on
went to ofﬁcer’s school. She served as a social worker YouTube.
ofﬁcer until the end of her military service.
Morah Hershkovitz describes herself as a “people person.” What drew you to teaching?
After the army, she studied Hotel Management and loved I came to teach here when the school was looking for a new
interacting with people, especially while they were on teacher and I was excited to use my Tanach knowledge and
vacation. She built a career in the Atlas hotel chain in enjoy the children.
Israel and worked there for 15 years until she and her What are your desert island foods?
husband came to Memphis in 2000 for his career. While On a deserted island I must have chocolate in order to
working in hotels, she returned to school to study Tanach survive. I would also choose smoked turkey with mayo and
(bible) which is her favorite subject. Israeli pickles on Jewish rye bread.
What People Say If you could meet one person living or dead, who
About Morah Hershkovitz would it be and why?
I would have loved to meet the Rambam (Maimonides) and
“Morah Herskovitz is absolutely amazing! She is instilling such ask him some questions about his perception of our religion.
a love of Judaism in the children and makes learning Hebrew And I really want to meet my great grandmother in Poland.
and Torah so much fun.” —Lauren Tochner, Bornblum Parent What is your favorite thing in Israel?
My favorite thing in Israel (besides my family of course) is
“Morah Hershkovitz is an amazing Jewish Studies teacher who the variety of scenery that changes within an hour drive. I
enjoys interacting with her students on all levels. She is an can leave Tel Aviv and its vibration and be in a silent spot in
incredible story teller of the Jewish traditions and scholars.” the desert with a very short drive.
—Felicia Riedell, Bornblum Faculty What is one thing that you hope every one of your
students will learn this year?
“Morah Hershkovitz was a great Hebrew teacher. I think she, I want all my students to learn that they belong to an
more than anyone else, pushed me to grow my vocabulary, incredible people and they are really a part of a chain. I want
which has enabled me to achieve the level of speaking ﬂuency I them to know the old and new history of our people.
have today.” —Isaac Ostrow, Bornblum Alumnus (’14)
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF BORNBLUM MIDDLE SCHOOLERS
We thought it would be fun to give you a peek inside the life our Bornblum middle schoolers.
Join us as we follow seventh grader Yael Nahum and eighth grader Gabriel Paz for a day.
Yael’s Day Yael came to Gabe’s Day
7:00 a.m. Wakes up and gets ready for Bornblum in sixth 7:25 a.m. Wakes up and gets ready for
school. Sometimes she get up a little grade from Shimshit, school. He usually skips breakfast but likes
earlier if she still has homework left to Israel. Getting to to start his day with a cup of coffee.
do. She doesn’t eat breakfast, but Bornblum, she had to 7:55 a.m. Gets to school and goes right to
usually has yogurt at school for a snack. get up to speed in homeroom with Ms. Stringer.
8:00 a.m. Gets to school and goes right English and adjust to a 8:15 a.m. Teﬁlla (morning service), once a
to homeroom with Ms. Stringer. whole new culture and week is Makelah (chorus).
8:15 a.m. Teﬁlla (morning service) way of life. Yael has an older sister named Ofri, 8:40 a.m. Double period of science with
9:00 a.m. English and geography with and a younger brother Ido who is in ﬁrst grade at Ms. Slough
Mrs. McAlexander Bornblum. Yael competes in gymnastics with the 10:05 a.m. Snack time
11:00 a.m. Tanach (bible) with Morah uneven bars being her favorite event. 10:15 a.m. Double period of English with
Hershkovitz and Ivrit (Hebrew) with Ms. Davis
Morah Almalem FAVORITE TV SHOW 11:45 a.m. Hebrew with Morah Almalem
12:30 p.m. Recess and lunch FRIENDS 12:30 p.m. Recess and lunch (usually
1:15 p.m. Jewish Social Studies with goes to working lunch to do homework)
Morah Almalem FAVORITE COLORS 1:15 p.m. Double period of math with Ms.
2:00 p.m. Art with Mrs. Greenberg LIGHT PURPLE AND LIGHT PINK Stringer
2:45 p.m. Elective (Facing History) 2:45 p.m. Debate elective
3:30 p.m. School’s out-gets a snack and FAVORITE SOCIAL MEDIA 3:30 p.m. School’s out-gets a snack and
heads to gymnastics INSTAGRAM goes to Debate Club
4:30 p.m. Competitive gymnastics at 5:00 p.m. Goes home and does
Gym Stars in Collierville (3.5 hours) FAVORITE MUSICIANS homework.
8:30 p.m. Homework (usually an hour) 6:00 p.m. Plays video games
9:30 p.m. Shower and head to bed SHAWN MENDES & ONE DIRECTION 7:00 p.m. Works out at MJCC
with some time on social media with 8:00 pm. Watches The Simpsons with dad
friends before falling asleep. Gabe came to 9:30 p.m. Shower, hang out and to bed
Bornblum in eighth
4 grade after having
home schooled since
third grade. Getting to
Bornblum, he had to
get up to speed in
Hebrew and adjust to a
whole new routine and way of life. Gabe has a
younger sister named Lauren. He has three dogs
and four cats, and he loves to argue!
FAVORITE TV SHOW
FAVORITE SOCIAL MEDIA
QUEEN, MICHAEL JACKSON & WEIRD AL
THE POWER OF JEWISH STUDIES IN MIDDLE SCHOOL
At Bornblum, we often tout the power of students ﬁgure out who they are, what trunk and pottery pieces. But the true
our dual curriculum as the key to they believe and their personal style of results were more important.
developing a strong Jewish identity. communication with others. Students had the opportunity to
We cite research showing how learning Recently, middle school students explore and learn about things that
a second language (Hebrew) in prepared for our model Passover seder. interested them. They found a variety of
childhood positively impacts brain Using the Havruta model, students role models, and through them
development and language acquisition. worked with peers to learn and present became attuned to universal values
And although these are true statements different parts of the Haggadah. The that they saw as important. They were
and compelling reasons for attending a result: they created the model seder, exposed to positive Jewish
Jewish day school, the power of Jewish from setting the tables to Chad Gadya experiences, even in the context of the
studies in middle school extends well (the ﬁnal song) through a powerful darkest chapter of Jewish history. They
beyond these laudable goals. peer learning process that was about developed personal connections to the
Jewish studies in middle school is not much more than Passover. past and integrated memories and
just about acquiring Jewish information Another example of the deep impact of experiences, both personal and group,
and learning Jewish skills. Rather it is Jewish studies in middle school is that will be with them into the future.
the gateway to personal development, found in their study of resistance in the Eighth graders took the experience
to helping students determine who Warsaw Ghetto. Students worked in deeper. Starting with a list of 50
they are, what they believe, and how groups on projects about many aspects values, the class whittled down the list
they interact with their peers. of the resistance and were free to to two values that were most important
Take for example the idea of Hevruta— present the information in whatever to the class as a whole (love and
learning with and from peers. In middle way they chose. The results were wisdom). Through debate and
school Jewish studies, there is a beautiful canvases, lamp shades, a argument, students learned what
conscious effort for the teachers to step mattered most to them and their peers.
back and become facilitators of peer to
peer learning. The result is students LEARNING TO LEAD AND LEADING TO LEARN
who take responsibility for their own
learning through research and Leadership opportunities abound for middle school students at Bornblum. It is why
discussion, through critique and so many of our students are successful leaders in high school, college and life.
commentary. Teachers focus on
providing students the tools and National Junior Honor Society Science Distinction Diploma
opportunities to learn from each other This year 17 middle school students Students with an interest and aptitude in
more than conveying information were inducted into the inaugural class science can complete three years of
directly. According to Jewish Studies of NJHS at Bornblum. Members elect extracurricular activities in science and
principal, Michal Almalem, “The key to ofﬁcers, hold monthly meetings and receive Bornblum’s Science Distinction
this type of learning is to provide a participate in individual and group designation on their diploma.
supportive environment where students community service projects. Debate Club
are comfortable with the process.” Model U.N. Bornblum’s middle school Debate Club is
Jewish studies in middle school also Bornblum participates in Model known as the one to beat in Memphis.
provides many opportunities for U.N.with 225 local students to work on As the creators of the Middle School
leadership, opportunities that help problem solving for the global debate league in Memphis, our students
community. Seventh grader, Yaron excel and have won many trophies for
Weiss, won a Best Delegate Award at their outstanding arguments.
this year’s competition.
IT’S ALL ABOUT During the three short years in middle IN MIDDLE SCHOOL
school, students undergo incredible
The bell rings and the students move personal, educational, social and Throughout the middle school years,
from class to class. In education speak, developmental transitions. Faculty at and particularly in eighth grade,
these are called transitions. But these Bornblum is focused on making sure students acquire skills needed to
are just one type of change in a world that all of these transitions are healthy transition out of Bornblum. Over the
that is full of transitions—middle school. and prepare the students to transition three years, students have increased
The transition to middle school begins out of Bornblum to high school and responsibility. The goal is to teach
in 5th grade at Bornblum when beyond. them to be conﬁdent and
students begin to prepare for the Middle school math teacher, Genie independent learners and to advocate
middle school years. Students have a Stringer, describes her task as, “helping for themselves. “These are essential
Step Up Day where they spend the day students develop personal value sets skills for our students to develop as
learning from all the middle school that will drive the difﬁcult decisions they move forward from Bornblum,”
teachers. Fifth graders also eat lunch that lie ahead.” In becoming aware of says Ms. Stringer.
with middle school to begin the social their own values, students are taught to In addition to the core subjects like
transition into the middle school pre-decide about big issues that are language arts, math, science and
community. often subject to intense peer pressure. history, Bornblum middle school
The transition to middle school hits full At the academic core of Bornblum’s students learn invaluable study skills
throttle at the beginning of sixth grade middle school is the effort to and test taking strategies that are
where students become a full part of systematically build on foundational designed to prepare them for their
the middle school community. An knowledge in order to teach students academic futures. Students also
orientation at the beginning of school how to apply what they have learned to receive training in ﬁnding and
clariﬁes the expectations of middle increasingly complex subject matter. effectively using digital resources.
school and helps students understand Students, for example, learn the value
the rhythms of their new daily reality. of closed captioning and pause
Middle schoolers engage in team functions when viewing digital media.
building activities together, including a
trip or activity outside the building.
Two years ago, middle school went to
Nashville to view the eclipse. This year,
they spent the day at Bridges, doing
team building and leadership
development activities. The goal is not
just to engage the students by grade,
but to create a middle school identity, a
kind of sub-culture within the school.
Many opportunities for multi-grade
learning and experiences exist in
middle school and help to create a
sense of a larger community. Electives
have mixed grades and the
commitment to leveled-learning
creates many multi-grade classes.
With these tools, students can read along with videos and THE PACK MENTALITY
view them at a pace that allows them to take quality notes
and fully absorb the material. Visit any middle school between classes and one thing will
Bornblum middle school also provides services that help stand out…THE PACK!
students and their families pick and get admitted to the Middle school students, largely, travel in packs and the pack
right high school for them. The middle school’s Net is their dominant social force. Students don’t just travel in
Classroom page features information about various high packs, they measure themselves by the standards of their
schools that Bornblum graduates have traditionally peers, caring far more about what their friends and
attended. Students also receive help in interviewing skills classmates think than what their parents or teachers have to
for high school admission interviews, help with offer.
applications and preparation help for the ISEE Middle schoolers at Bornblum are no different; but
(Independent School Entrance Exam). Bornblum’s middle school is different. It begins with
According to Sally Baer, Assistant Head of School, “Each the recognition that while we are teaching the skills needed
year our middle schoolers come into our middle school not to become independent and healthy individuals, we must
sure what to expect or where their paths will lead. And equally focus on developing a healthy pack in which our
three years later, these same students graduate with poise students can safely travel through middle school.
and grace, sure of themselves and ready for the next steps Creating this supportive environment requires teaching
in their academic career.” students how to praise one another, to ask questions
respectfully and to provide constructive critique about the
product and not the person. By modeling and teaching these
skills, teachers are creating a healthy environment where
students feel comfortable expressing their personal values,
beliefs and goals.
THE ULTIMATE TRANSITION: TWO WEEKS IN ISRAEL
It’s the experience of a lifetime for Bornblum’s eighth their years at school, the experiences they have had, and
graders, but so much more is going on. Each year, for the challenges they have faced. In getting to know Israel,
nearly three decades, Bornblum eighth graders have students get to know themselves better than they ever
participated in a two-week journey through the Holy have. Their journey helps them focus on who they want to
Land, learning about the land and people of Israel in be and how they ﬁt in to more than 5700 years of Jewish
person. This trip brings nine years of classroom learning history and where they are headed next in life.
into focus and connects the students to both the land of
Israel and thousands of years of Jewish experience.
But the trip is about so much more. It is a time of great
transition for our students. As the culminating experience
at Bornblum before graduation, students reﬂect on
HONORARIUMS AND MEMORIALS ALL IN
To make a donation in honor/memory of someone, please visit www.BORNBLUM.org FOR BORNBLUM
or mail to 6641 Humphreys Blvd., Memphis, TN 38120.
In memory of Gaby Attias In honor of Sara Smith
Jessica and Daniel Weiss AJ Daneman
For the recovery of Paul Bierman In honor of Ronna and Hal Make Your
Abby and Scott Felsenthal Newburger Pledge Today
In honor of AJ Daneman Louise and Jerry Sklar to Bornblum’s
Debbie Daneman In memory of Joan Newman
In memory of Mindy Diament Dina Romeo Annual
Jeri and Mitch Moskovitz Jessica and Daniel Weiss Campaign
In honor of Patti Elster In memory of Arlene Segal
Shirley and Ted Roberts Abby and Scott Felsenthal bornblum.org/
In honor of the Bar Mitzvah
Paula and Roy Greenberg donate
of Adam Epstein
Lisa Harris and Shawn Wood
Jessica and Daniel Weiss Molly and Kurt Lane
In honor of Mollie and Rosie Alla and Nathan Lubin
Felsenthal Judy and Larry Moss
Miram Alabaster Erin Ostrow
Marcia Moskovitz Jill and Scott Shanker
In honor of First Grade for Stacy and Jerry Siegler
Chagigat HaSefer Illysa and Michael Wertheimer
Lisa Harris and Shawn Wood In memory of Ira Weinstein
For the recovery of Rhonda and Jessica and Daniel Weiss
Alex Ginsburg In honor of Yaron Weiss
Randi and Mark Bernsen Tamar Hershkovitz
In honor of Abby Hodus
Lenore and David Forsted BORNBLUM’S FAMILY OF FUNDS
In honor of Vered Chaya and
Kitre Yosefa Karkowsky • Enrichment Activities Fund
Nancy Karkowsky • Judaic Studies Fund
In memory of Bernie Katz • Scholarship & Financial Aid Fund
Bettye and Jim Cantora • Felicia Riedell Fund for General Studies
Sylvia and Bruce Feldman • Mary Shainberg Israel Education & Scholarships Fund
In honor of Blaire and Emerson • Teacher Salary & Professional Development Fund