By Christina Reboh, TTSC Chair (2020-present)
(Edmonton) – The Edmonton Talmud Torah School Council (TTSC) is a volunteer parent advisory group that works with school Principal and staff to support the operations and learning at Talmud Torah School (TT). Our focus is to enrich each student’s learning and experience by advising, listening, engaging, and participating. TTSC, in its present form, was established September 22, 2020, according to the Education Act under the direct guidance of the Alberta School Council Association (ASCA). For over a century, the TTS Parents’ Auxiliary (PA) and, before that the Mothers’ Auxiliary (MA), fulfilled the important role of enriching student experiences at Talmud Torah. Thanks to the PA’s and MA’s years of work and dedication, the TTSC has the ground work to carry on the vision of positively impacting and enriching student learning and experiences at TT.
The TTSC membership includes all Talmud Torah School and Talmud Torah Early Learning Centre (TTELC) parents. For the 2022-23 school year, the executive members are: Christina Reboh, Chair; Marni Kondor and Ken Lister, Co-Vice Chairs; Secretary, Jamie Mozeson. The TTSC also consists of our Principal, Darin Johnson, teachers and staff. As well, other partners and supporters (School Board Trustee Dawn Hancock, Talmud Torah Society, ASCA, Jewish Federation of Edmonton, etc.) with an invested interest in TT collaborate and work with the TT School Council.
Talmud Torah School Council’s primary focus is to create parental engagement and advise the principal on school matters. It also provides a venue for parents to represent the wishes of the broader community (collective voice) on the education of students; a means for meaningful parental involvement in decisions that impact student learning, the school and its operations; advises and supports the Principal regarding the operations of the school; supports the teachers and school, as needed with supplies, volunteers, and new projects.
Enrichment projects that the TTSC currently supports are: student agendas, schoolwide weekly Shabbat, Café Ivrit, June Fitness Challenge, recess supplies, end of year class celebrations, and staff appreciation. We work closely with teachers and help bring extra curriculum projects to life, such as the Grade 6 winter planters that are a fun way to end the Science unit on Trees and the Grade 1s and 4s spring planters to enrich the Science unit on agriculture. Another teacher create concept: Café Ivrit is a student-community project that helps students build their Hebrew speaking skills by having a conversation (and a warm beverage) with Hebrew speakers.
Many hands make light work and the only way the TT School Council can execute these enrichment projects and continue to support student learning is with the many volunteers who offer their time, energy, expertise, and passion, as well as generous participation in our many fundraisers. The TTSC is not a fundraising body, therefore can only run small fundraisers (i.e. no casinos or capital campaigns) whose funds are for use in the same school year. Our year-round fundraising initiatives include: Shabbat sponsorship, Fundscrip gift cards, Spirt Wear, Gift of Reading book program for the library, and birthday treats. Our annual fundraising initiatives include: post-high holiday and Passover bottle drives, yearbooks, Passover flowers, gardening supplies, TT wall calendars, and school supplies.
While most of TTSC’s work focuses on the students and staff within the school year, we have opportunities to dig deeper and have a voice in matters that extended beyond the classroom. For example, the TTSC has an executive representative on the TT Society Board. This ensures that both organizations, while they have different mandates and focuses, are always working in tandem. It’s an invaluable partnership and ensures the continued growth of the Talmud Torah. Further, the TTSC chair engages with our Trustee and meets with other school council chairs throughout the year, to gain a better understanding of what is happening at the division level and to learn what other councils are doing. At times, the TTSC conducts parent surveys or discussions on topics, as requested, from the Alberta School Council Association. Most notably, the TTSC has expressed support for Holocaust Education to be included in the new Alberta Curriculum and is currently in talks with Edmonton Public Schools Transportation to revise TT’s bus service route.
Our 2022-23 Executive Committee has hit the ground running to make sure the programs and initiatives we run result in an enriching and impactful year for our students. With our annual programs running smoothly, this year we are working on a few new projects! We are excited to host Trickster Theatre in February, for a one-week drama residency that will culminate with an evening performance of a custom written play about Jewish values. As well, we are working on launching a Hot Lunch Program and hoping to support some new student clubs, such as a media club that will teach students about graphic design, video editing, and photography.
The first year of TTSC was a year of learning and establishment (i.e. lots of paperwork), year two we had our feet in place and started testing new ideas, and year three is gearing up to be our most engaging and meaningful year yet! The TTSC would like to express sincere gratitude to: our leadership: Principal Johnson and the TT Staff, for your creativity and support; to the TT Society board of directors for ensuring our organizations complement each other; to the students for sharing your ideas and energy; and to the parents who make it all possible! TTSC is proud that every TT/ELC parent is a member of the council and there is something to fit each parents’ interests, skills, and time. We have one of the most engaged School Councils in the city; between Council Meetings, small commitment committees, project specific volunteer needs, or helping pickup/deliver supplies, our village really comes together to keep the TTSC robust!
To share your ideas or get involved with the Talmud Torah School Council, please connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.