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Self-Advocacy in our Children

Dear RPRY Community,

Yesterday, I received a note signed by “The fifth grade girls.” It was a very polite and well-written request that the school try to schedule recess so that fewer students are in the gym at a given time.

I love getting student petitions, protests, and notes such as these! In fact, I save them. I still have the petition campaigning for cotton candy at the Purim carnival, signed by almost all of the middle school students and many of the teachers. I kept the note that a sixth grader wrote to me about how we should maintain essential elements of Maccabia. I cherish the letter I received from a fourth grade girl delineating three well-argued reasons why it would be wise for me to make the daily start time later.

I am proud that at RPRY, we create an environment in which students feel comfortable to advocate for themselves and for the academic and social issues about which they feel strongly. Self-advocacy is an important life skill. Part of our tradition as Jews is being able to rationally argue for a position, and to do so with both passion and respect.

After I had already written the first two paragraphs of this article, a seventh grade girl came to my office to discuss the dress code. It was another excellent example of a student advocating with passion and respect! Sometimes I agree with the students’ opinions and sometimes I disagree. Very often I agree but I also understand more of the big picture than the students do. Regardless, I always appreciate how RPRY students have the self-confidence and the skill set to advocate for themselves.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Daniel Loew

Head of School