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Brandeis Marin - An Education for the Future

Brandeis Marin - An Education for the Future
Brandeis Marin - An Education for the Future

Our vision is to make Brandeis Marin a forward-thinking center of educational innovation that harnesses the timeless values of the Jewish tradition to infuse cutting edge learning in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, as well as the humanities with social purpose. 

It is inspiring to bear witness to the rich history of Brandeis in Marin. In celebration of our 40th anniversary event this past Spring, we honored extraordinary people whose vision, tireless efforts and dedication built and sustained our community over the past four decades. 

Marni Shapiro has dedicated herself to educating our youngest students and building their confidence as learners. She represents the soul of education...Her vision for project-based, child-directed learning set the Brandeis kindergarten apart from all the rest. Today our school embraces project-based learning across all grades....raising up the next generation to take charge of their learning and move confidently into the future, grounded in timeless Jewish values. Mickey and Toni Golbus and Dennis and Paula Jaffe served as Board Presidents and literally realized a vision for our campus - which houses Brandeis Marin, as well as the Osher Marin JCC and Congregation Rodef Sholom. They worked to create a hub for Jewish life in Marin County by being home to a holistic approach to Jewish living, anchored by education, religion, culture, and wellness. Marty and Vanessa Friedman led a group of lay leaders that became known as the Marin Working Group who saw an opportunity for our school to chart a new course toward a bright future. Faced with serious questions about the future viability of this campus, Marty led the effort to establish our school as a stand-alone independent Jewish day school. 

As the inaugural Head of School of this "start up with a history," I was here to see how reinvigorated this campus became when it opened its doors on July 1, 2015, as Brandeis Marin, an independent Jewish day school. Let me tell you, this community is "all in" to help this campus thrive in this next chapter. Since 2015, we have more than doubled our fundraising through our annual campaign; we have steadily increased our enrollment in the school; our Middle School alone is poised to open its doors this fall with a record number of 90 students enrolled for the 2019-2020 school year! Our school has gained national attention for our forward-thinking approach to Jewish learning. We will be featured as a case study in a book coming out next year about Jewish education in North America and we received two consecutive three-year grants from the nationally recognized Covenant Foundation to deepen our curriculum in technology, Jewish Studies, and Israel education. 

So much has changed in 40 years. Who could have imagined the world of 2019 in 1978? Yet, this is the task of schools. Education is about the future. What skills and mindsets will kids today need when they enter the workforce in 2040 or 2050? What will our world be like in 2060... 40 years from now? What is the meaning of this education?

Our sacred task is to prepare students for the future they will inherit. This includes laying the foundation by helping them to develop the habits of mind and heart to think critically and ethically. Thus, as we look to the future, our work is guided by one core belief - We believe that kids will make the world a better place if they are rigorously prepared problem solvers, socially conscious, aware of the world, and guided by enduring core values. 

The Jewish tradition serves as our north star, setting an example of reverence for deep learning, inspiring us to use our talents to repair the world, urging us to experience moments of awe in life, teaching us to use ritual to mark life's big and little moments and inviting us into genuine community with one another. 

We are teaching our students to see everything from poetry, to mathematical problems to historical narratives from multiple perspectives. We believe that education is most powerful when students are active in their learning. So, we are weaving project-based learning into all classes and all grades. We believe students will need to be not only good problem solvers, but good problem finders. For this, they will need to be able to ask good questions to move beyond symptoms to understanding the root causes of problems. If education in the 20th century was about the 3 Rs (reading, writing, and arithmetic, as they used to say), then surely in the 21st-century education is about the 4 Cs (critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity). We are helping our students think in cross-disciplinary ways through an integrated approach to learning, breaking down the silos between the different subjects taught in school. Our school is recognized as a place of innovation as well as deep, authentic Jewish learning. Our focus is to ensure that everything our students do is meaningful, compelling and relevant. 

As we look toward the future, we see the migration of human populations, climate change, and environmental sustainability, as well as rapid changes in the fields of technology, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology as presenting some of the most significant challenges and opportunities over the next 100 years. Our vision is to make Brandeis Marin a forward-thinking center of educational innovation that harnesses the timeless values of the Jewish tradition to infuse cutting edge learning in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, as well as the humanities with social purpose. 

Our curriculum allows for the intersection of science, technology and Jewish Studies so that students learn not only the principles of science, genetics, and technology, for example - which includes things like 3D printers, laser cutters, other tools of digital fabrication, computer coding and artificial intelligence - but also how to think ethically and critically about science and technology. We recall that the field of bioethics was created as a response to the rapid changes brought about in the biotech industry. Today, we see technology and artificial intelligence developing rapidly. How will ethical thinking impact the rapid pace of development to ensure new innovations serve our planet and our communities responsibly?  We envision our school as the training ground where young students will learn both the "how" as well as the "ought we?" at the same time. We seek to teach them to think about the consequences of their learning for the environment or the labor force. Just as they are learning how to use science and technology to address problems, we want to develop the habit of mind to ask themselves, "Just because we can develop technology in this way, ought we?"  

We are profoundly grateful to those leaders and educators who set this school on a solid foundation, providing broad and stable shoulders that enable this current generation of leaders and educators to glimpse the horizon as we build and sustain this extraordinary school for the next 40 years. 

Dr. Peg Sandel
Head of School
April 14, 2019