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OK, I admit it: I’m addicted to my BlackBerry. As a working mother who travels frequently, it’s my lifeline. Not only to the office but also to the myriad carpools and sporting events that mothering three boys requires. So you can imagine how frustrated I was when the track ball that allows you to navigate around the BlackBerry broke. In some psychotic twist of fate, I could only roll the ball to the left, meaning I could only see what I did yesterday—not what I had to do tomorrow.

Crazy, right? Who cares what I did yesterday. I’m moving at 90 miles-per-hour and tomorrow is what I need to know about today. But here’s the good news: my mini panic attack presented an opportunity for me to ponder some existential questions: Was this blip in my ferris wheel of a life a sign from the outer universe to slow down? Should I spend more time reflecting on what I have accomplished and avoid focusing obsessively on what’s coming next?

Who knows.

But here’s the interesting part of the story. As I lay in bed reflecting about this “larger-than-technology” situation, I began thinking about my grandparents.  Not only the simpler life they had—devoid of BlackBerry addiction—but also their uncanny ability to communicate the richness of their own past so it was relevant to my life. What a gift: the capacity to look at yesterday and contemplate its value on tomorrow. 

When Jewish day schools think about grandparents, here’s what comes to mind: 

Grandparents Day!

Day schools have perfected this special event: a time during which we welcome current grandparents to walk around in the shoes of their grandchildren. These programs are creative, well executed, and demonstrate the direct value of a Jewish day school education. Who doesn’t love a stage full of kindergartners singing “Hinei Mah Tov” or a gallery of sixth-grade Hebrew poetry? 

But hang on. Once the event is over, what’s next? As day school professionals, when we rotate our BlackBerry track ball in the direction of tomorrow, do we still see “grandparents” on our calendar? We will explore this topic during our next Development CoP call, “Going Beyond Grandparents Day. ” Please join three school development professionals on April 14 as we discuss best practices for taking the hard work of the Grandparent’s Day event and stretch it out over the course of the year. In the meantime, here five ideas for keeping grandparents on the calendar:

1. After Grandparents Day, send a note to each grandparent—whether they attended or not—with a picture of their grandchild engaged in their school environment.
2. Arrange face-to-face meetings with all local grandparents. Take the opportunity to get to know them as people; introduce them to things at school that don’t involve their grandchild. Help them start to see the bigger picture, this is strictly cultivation!
3. Make one visit a year to a location with a large number of non-local grandparents and do the same as in number 2. Whether it’s in Manhattan or Jerusalem, building those one-on-one relationships is a key component.  If you can’t travel, find out if a board member will be visiting a part of the country and can arrange some meetings.
4. Grandparenting is all about nachas. Capture that by asking each teacher to do one project that can be shared with grandparents in the month of December. Maybe it’s creating a family tree and framing it, or maybe it’s interviewing grandparents about their history and “publishing” a book for the grade. Either way, make sure the grandparents receive these creative gifts and be sure to accompany them with information about your school and the value it brings to the community.
5. Invite them to the table. Now that you have gotten to know many of your grandparents, you will have a sense of who they are. Perhaps some would make great board members; maybe one of them met Babe Ruth. Undoubtedly, each will have something special to communicate. Invite them in to share their values, perspectives, and vision of the past.  Whether it’s with students or at the board table.

After all this reflection, I eventually gave in and went to the Sprint store for a new BlackBerry.  Turns out that the new phones don’t even have the track ball—just a pad that lets you slide around. I guess I wasn’t the only one stuck in the past!