A Note From Noah

We are pleased to share that this morning at Field Day, a check will be presented from our PreK students to a representative from the American Jewish Committee (AJC), culminating our inaugural Penny Harvest. AJC NY works to combat anti-Semitism, counter the spread of radicalism and extremism, and promote Israel’s place in the world, through working on the local level with elected officials and interfaith leaders.

While the Penny Harvest is another example of our school’s commitment to tikkun olam – the Jewish notion of “repairing the world” – it is also, significantly, a display of how our school views children. On your admissions tour, way back when, you heard me describe children as “our youngest citizens” who we see as “capable” of contributing to the world around them and making a meaningful impact. This project was a wonderful reminder of just how young citizens interact with their world.

In the Reggio-inspired model, child-as-citizen means that children not only learn about social responsibility, but partake in meaningful acts of social responsibility. School, then, is a vehicle through which young citizens gain access and exposure to core notions of community and democracy – the ideas that their voice matters, their efforts count, and they are responsible for caring for others.

It has been joyful to watch our “penny jug” in the Common Space fill up, one coin at a time, over the past four months, as children poured in coins from their tzedakah boxes, their parents’ pockets, and from friends and neighbors. Our youngest-citizens’ involvement did not stop there. Earlier this month, Meryl Brown and Jordana Kritzer, who spearheaded this project, joined in class to discuss four different charities with the PreK students. The students then discussed the project at home with their parents, and arrived at our PreK Shabbat dinner ready to decide to which charity they would donate the money. Just before lighting Shabbat candles together, four students stood in front of a crowd of their classmates’ families and described the mission of the different charity organizations. Each child then voted on their preferred charity, and ultimately the American Jewish Committee was selected.  Lastly, the students have helped this week in the Common Space to organize, count, and roll the coins. Making five stacks of ten pennies for a 50₵ cent roll is no easy feat for a five year old! I have been so impressed – but not surprised – with our students’ commitment to this project through every stage.

With the last coin rolled and tallied, our students collected:

16,216 pennies

1,402 nickels

1,810 dimes

1,547 quarters

17 $1 bills

1 $5 bill

...for a grand total of... 


Each penny counts. Each action we take as citizens – including our youngest citizens – matters. I am so proud to be part of a school community that sees our children not only as learners but as doers, not only as young but as powerful.

In our family recently, the idea of individual responsibility towards making the world a better place has come through by reading Miss Rumphius, a gorgeously illustrated children’s book in which Alice Rumphius heeds her grandfather’s charge to make the world more beautiful. Alice plants flowers, one seed at a time over several years, and transforms the countryside into a beautiful landscape.

The Penny Harvest has been the same for our students – each individual coin dropped in has been a chance to help make the world a better place, a more tolerant place, a more beautiful place. I invite you to use the project as a chance to talk with your children about how they can make the world beautiful. Consider putting coins in a tzedakah box every Friday night; volunteer to clean up your neighborhood park; donate old clothes, furniture, or toys; use a birthday party to collect items to donate instead of receive presents; or have a family challenge to do kind things for strangers such as smile, hold the door open, offer directions, say Thank You to police officers or others in service professions, etc.

Lastly, thank you to Jordana Kritzer and Meryl Brown for their effort and enthusiasm in seeing this project through from ideation to completion, and to Christine Young for leading our efforts this week to count and roll the coins.

Shabbat shalom,