Helping our students walk confidently and independently into college and adulthood – that’s our goal in the Upper School.
Each year at TVT, students reach this goal thanks to the unique and strong bonds they form with their teachers. We know that when students form trusting and authentic relationships with their teachers; they take intellectual risks and make mistakes, which quickly become opportunities for conversations, honest feedback and growth, rather than a reflection of their deficiencies. And when our teachers come to know their students as individuals, they soon know how those students learn best, applying individualized approaches to a curriculum that challenges students to think critically and creatively, that asks them to better understand themselves and to better understand the world around them.
As much as we are focused on the uniqueness of our students – inspiring them to realize their individual potentials, pushing them inward toward self-discovery – all that focus is done in the service of calling them outward to others, for we believe that caring for others is reflective of both good citizenship and a life informed by Jewish values.
How we usher our students into larger communities and responsible adulthood is similar to a parent teaching a child to walk. The Bal Shem Tov shares a story of a parent setting down a child, taking a few steps away, beckoning that child to come closer, and then as the child takes its first steps, the parent backs up. The distance the parent creates, according to The Bal Shem Tov, is not to reject or abandon that child, but to teach the child to come close on his or her own. Here at TVT, we too begin to take a few steps back as each student matures. We know that closeness and affection in our interactions is essential for a child’s confidence to try something new, yet it is also our ability to make space for the child that allows the child to venture out and grow. The more we maintain that balance, the more we ‘bless the space between us,’ as the Irish poet John O’Donohue phrased it, and the better we foster each student’s innate curiosity and search for meaning and purpose.