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October 31, 2014

Definition of a Leader? Our Students!

by Dr. Eliezer Jones

This past Shabbos I went to shul on Friday night at Shaarey Zedek in the Valley as I usually do. Yet, this was not a usual Shabbos. As mincha ended and Kabbalas Shabbos began, I became acutely aware that this Shabbos was not like the last. While davening at Shaarey Zedek is always beautiful, the energy and passion during Kabbalas Shabbos was inspiring beyond its usual level of inspiration. What was different? Well, when I began to scan the room I saw many of our wonderful Etta participants (Etta is an organization focused on supporting Jewish adults with special needs) dancing with their amazing teen advisors. When I looked closer, I realized that many of the advisors were our Valley Torah students, along with some wonderful students from YULA and Shalhevet.

Although I have only been the General Studies principal at Valley Torah-Boys for a couple of months, I can’t tell you how quickly I was filled with pride when I saw our students with their Etta participants. Every single one of the VTHS students acted in a manner that was responsible, caring and devoted to making sure the Etta participant was having a wonderful time and meaningful Shabbos. The singing was boisterous. The dancing was powerful. The Etta participants were smiling. Our students were leaders.

As many of you know I think often about how we at VTHS can continue to build our program to ensure that we give our students as many opportunities as possible to explore their passions, interests and reach their individual potential. At the helm of this building process is the integration of leadership skills that will support our students in building their character and having the specific skills needed to be flexible and successful in an ever changing world. As many of you already know, the leadership skills we will be integrating are based on the seven habits of highly effective people by Dr. Steven Covey.  We, as a VTHS staff, have been receiving training in these habits all year and we plan on implementing these habits with the students in the fall. However, with what I saw this past shabbos, our students are well on their way to being tremendous leaders.

I would like to give a shout out to our students who did such a great job at the Etta Shabbaton. Mr. Yonah Darrison, Mr. Josh Forman, Mr. Mitch Goulson, Mr. Benjy Halpern, Mr. Ashi Jones, Mr. Max Leibowitz, Mr. Samuel Leibowitz, Mr. Eitan Ohana, Mr. David OHana, Mr. Matthew Roesslee and Mr. Yoni Zisblatt, you are true leaders and we are proud to have you as representatives of Valley Torah!

I also want to thank the Etta team who did such a wonderful job. Thank you to Mrs. Leah Schachter, who organized the Shabbaton and is a VTHS parent, Mr. Adam Rhodes, who oversaw and worked closely with all the student advisors, and Mr. Josh Taff, who is Etta’s Director of Outreach and did a fantastic job! Thank you all for caring for our brothers and sisters with special needs and giving our students an opportunity to lead in the most important of ways.

While I was not asked to post this, I personally feel Etta is a wonderful organization and worth supporting. They will be having their annual Gala November 12, 2014 and you can order tickets by clicking here.

Read more from Boys, Dr. Jones

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