At Strelitz International Academy—it takes a community

December 9, 2021

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When walking into Strelitz International Academy, one of the first things to see is the school’s four core values posted in the lobby: Kavod (Honor), Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World), Torah v’Lishma, and Kehillah (Community).

As Tidewater’s Jewish Community Day School and International Baccalaureate® World School, ‘Community’ is SIA’s middle name. SIA students learn through their IB® concepts that communities come in many forms and include the school community, the Tidewater community, and the global community.

The importance and need for a school community was apparent with the COVID-19 pandemic. SIA was thankful to have its student and faculty community in school last year, but there was a palpable absence of SIA parents who were not permitted into the building due to safety precautions. This year, SIA has had in-person attendance and participation by parents in programs SIA has reimagined.

During SIA’s Back to School Meet and Greet in August, parents were giddy with excitement as they stepped into the school building loaded up with supplies and ready to meet their children’s teachers in-person. SIA’s signature Shabbat Singalongs were redesigned from the pre-COVID crowded multipurpose room venue to the campus outdoor tent. The community’s warmth made chilly weather a nonissue. In October, the annual Family Pasta Dinner in the Tent was sold out. Families were so happy to be together that the pouring rain didn’t dampen anyone’s fun. These events, followed by a parent breakfast in the sukkah, the Early Years Fall Festival, and Hanukkah celebrations were all amazing, spirited events. The community is restored, and parents certainly will not take for granted attending school events for the foreseeable future.

SIA’s Parent Volunteer Committee is also back in action, with parents planning a special Teacher Appreciation Breakfast to show SIA teachers how much they appreciate their hard work.

The second circle of SIA’s community is the Tidewater community. SIA is fortunate to have thriving partnerships with the agencies on the Sandler Family Campus. Jewish Family Service of Tidewater provides SIA’s school counselors and many community service opportunities such as restocking the food pantry and providing Hanukkah gifts for less fortunate families. The Simon Family Jewish Community Center provides a summer camp for students to attend, School Day Out Camp, and additional afterschool programming for SIA students from yoga to basketball to Mad Science. United Jewish Federation of Tidewater provides funds and grants to support SIA’s programming and upkeep of the building. The Sandler Family Campus provides excellent security and maintenance and the Cardo Cafe offers a school lunch program. In turn, SIA families fill the building daily and take advantage of the many programs and amenities the campus offers.

As an authorized International Baccalaureate® World School, SIA is an important part of the global community. The IB® curriculum provides opportunities for SIA students to learn from other perspectives and experts around the world. SIA students are taught Hebrew and Israeli culture to enable them to learn about their Jewish heritage from a global perspective. Through their IB units of inquiry, students gain knowledge of how the world works and ways to take better care of the planet. SIA’s IB® World School designation has attracted local students from all over the world including Israel, Denmark, Norway, and Czeck Republic who have further enriched the SIA community.

In keeping with the ancient African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” at Strelitz International Academy, it takes a community—a community working together with common values, a strong vision, and an open mind.

For more information about the Strelitz International Academy, contact Carin Simon, admissions director, at 757-424-4327 or csimon@strelitzacademy.org.

-Carin Simon
Letter to the Editor