Rashi’s campus is designed to foster a community where people live and learn across generations. Students’ and residents’ lives intersect and enrich each other on our grounds intentionally created to house both NewBridge on the Charles and The Rashi School. Over the course of their Kindergarten to Grade 8 education, every student experiences multiple touchpoints with NewBridge residents, and many form lasting relationships with their senior neighbors.
Students learn about the lived experiences of NewBridge residents — their stories, their families, and their day-to-day life. Ongoing, meaningful interactions with NewBridge residents infuse the Rashi school years. Students learn about some of the physical, cognitive, and emotional aspects of aging.
The relationship is reciprocal.
NewBridge residents frequent the Rashi building. You might find them reading Blueberries for Sal to a Kindergartener, modeling how to calculate circumference of a shape in a math class, leading an art activity, or sharing a personal story at an all-school meeting.
During any given week, students from all grade levels might converse over lunch with residents through Lunch Bunch, celebrate Jewish and secular holidays, volunteer with residents who have memory loss through Making Memories, create and facilitate a thematic activity through Mitzvah Makers, and visit with residents one on one for student-driven independent projects.
” We are commanded to relate in a respectful and loving way towards our seniors because we see within them tzelem Elohim, the image of God. Each moment that Rashi students interact with the seniors represents a chance for the student to be their very best selves, and to bring true companionship and joy in all of their lives. “
– Dean of Jewish Learning Rabbi Sharon Clevenger
Here are some of our programs:
Students in Grades 6-8 are trained to interact with people who have memory loss. They spend six weeks each year volunteering with NewBridge residents from assisted living and the health care center who have Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.
Students in Grades 2-5 and their faculty advisors brainstorm over lunch what might be interesting to residents in the health care center. With this understanding, they initiate and carry out theme-based programs at NewBridge every month.
Through lunch table conversations with Grade 8 students and residents in Assisted Living, this leadership development opportunity encourages students to communicate with greater sophistication and versatility.
Over 25 NewBridge residents share their expertise with students, working one on one on literacy skills, co-leading art projects, presenting advanced math lessons, and speaking to the whole school about their firsthand memories of historical moments.
Jewish holidays are a time for Kindergarten – Grade 4 students and residents to actively participate in celebration and hands-on learning.
As our students grow up at Rashi and at NewBridge, they are often inspired to carry out independent projects that bridge between our communities. They have the tools to do so. Rashi’s climate change club invited the NewBridge environmental sustainability club to their meeting. By the end of their first gathering, they had a plan to reduce the number of plastic bags that are thrown out. A Grade 6 student shared his piano skills by performing a series of concerts for residents. A student in Grade 7 met weekly with an Independent Living resident who wants to keep pace with technology.
” This program works magic on both sides of the equation. For the seniors in our communities, the students provide an opportunity for them to share their life experiences, engage in discussion about the world and to celebrate holidays. Kids develop skills around how to engage with people who are older. In so many students and adults, there’s a fear of people who are older. The fear goes away so easily with engagement. “
– Lynda Bussgang
Director of Volunteer, Youth and Community Engagement at Hebrew Senior Life
The Rashi School Blog
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