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Spring carries many associations: a welcome change for those of us who endure harsh winters, the phenomenon of spring cleaning (which is surprisingly cross-cultural), and for Jews, the arrival and powerful impact of Pesach. This year, I experienced the coming of spring and the observance of Pesach a bit differently than usual. PEJE’s landlord responded favorably to our request to improve our office’s floor plan, and to accomplish the reconfiguration, we had to pack everything into crates in order to facilitate the construction of some new offices, painting, and carpeting.

This posed not a few challenges for me, given the number of books and files I have amassed over my career, some of which go as far back as my tenure as a head of school, which concluded in 1998.

The necessity to clean house presented a unique and challenging opportunity, as it required that I assess which of my belongings are important and enduring, versus those I could let go. What is constant even in the face of change? In addition to electronic documents, what did I want to save in hard copy? What did I truly need to keep, and what did I merely want to hold on to?

While we attended to some preservation of materials for historical purposes, our focus was on the transformational levers for the day schools field. PEJE’s strategic priorities of leadership, governance, financial sustainability, and advocacy guided me and my staff in choosing what to carry forward. Furthermore, access to knowledge, expertise, and coaching is fundamental to change, and so we captured and saved our hard copy resources associated with these critical vehicles to support lasting change.

It feels good to simplify, to consolidate, to focus. We live in an era of information overload. This process of choosing what to keep and what to throw out forced some good reflective thinking for PEJE’s staff — the kind of thinking that educational leaders, both professional and volunteer, benefit from as they face challenges and seize opportunities.

Furthermore, going through these documents and binders (among the items I discovered were draft PEJE logos, a photograph from our first board meeting, and early materials from our coaching program) gave me an appreciation for how far we at PEJE have progressed in 13 years, and also how much the Jewish day school field has evolved.

May your spring be beautiful, less cluttered, and more focused on what is lasting. At PEJE, we are gratified by the enduring learning we have amassed. We look forward to continuing to steward the knowledge in our core areas and to sharing with you through newsletters and most notably at the PEJE Assembly for Advancing the Jewish Day School Field (registration now open).

–Josh Elkin