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Motto, By Chaim Heller, Head of School

Chaim final constant contactRecently, I was attending a late meeting here at school when I bumped into an SDJA graduate who was visiting and about to head back to his second year at college. After hugs, I asked him how his first year at an Ivy League school was going. “Awesome,” he said, sharing that he was developing his own major and was enlisting faculty support for his efforts to create a new academic concentration at this tradition-bound university. I was impressed, and asked if he felt prepared for college coming out of the academy. He said he did, and that in fact some of his freshmen classes were easier than what he experienced at SDJA.

“Really? You had classes at the Academy that were more challenging than at (X) university?”

“Oh yeah, Ms. Wu’s class in my senior year was much more challenging and tough. I learned so much from her. I still use what I learned in that class even now.”

I share this vignette not to point out the high achievements of this particular young man, impressive as they may be. There are exceptional students – high-achievers – in every grade in every school and SDJA is no different in that regard. I share this story because Ms. Wu – and so many SDJA teachers just like her – teach over 80 students every year and have an impact that cannot be measured only in AP scores (again, impressive as they may be.) They are measured in the successes our students experience in life.

Three years ago, when I first visited the Academy, I thought the Academy’s motto, “Learning for Life” was a marketing brand. After being here a while and meeting so many of our graduates, in college, as parents, and in leadership positions in the community, I’ve changed my mind.

It’s not a motto. It’s what we do.

Shabbat shalom,


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