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Solomon Schechter Head of School Andrea Kasper to be honored at Ner Tamid gala

WEST HARTFORD — Dr. Andrea Rose Cheatham Kasper, head of school at Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Hartford, will be honored at the school’s annual Ner Tamid gala, to be held Sunday evening, April 14 at Beth El Temple in West Hartford. Kasper will lead the roster of dinner honorees that will also include Schechter’s team of educators.

Kasper, who arrived at SSDS five years ago, recently received her PhD, focusing her thesis on entrepreneurial orientation in education. 

“I conducted a case study of a Jewish high school to understand how the construct of Entrepreneurial Orientation is lived and experienced in the school by faculty and staff and both lay and professional leadership,” she explains. “Specifically, it is not about teaching entrepreneurship to the students. The construct is made up of five behaviors: autonomy, proactiveness, innovativeness, risk-taking and competitive aggressiveness. It was interesting to understand in depth how a school can and does exhibit these behaviors. I found that autonomy, proactiveness and innovativeness cluster together and that these behaviors were reflected strongly in the school; risk-taking and competitive aggressiveness were found but not as strongly.

“Interestingly, I found that there is some real tension between risk-taking, autonomy and innovativeness because risk-taking is mitigated by the school’s constituencies’ expectations. Many people say they want innovation, and then recoil once their ideas of education are challenged. Creating a school environment that promotes autonomy and risk-taking is an exciting change for Schechter.”

The impact on students is at least two-fold, says Kasper. 

“First, idea generation by the faculty and administration provide new and ongoing learning experiences and opportunities for the students,” she says. “But more importantly, an environment that promotes risk-taking encourages everyone to look for new opportunities, accept that not all ideas will succeed and empowers everyone to be bold and creative in their thinking.”

This year, says Kasper, SSDS has much to celebrate.

“So much has been happening at Schechter over the last several years,” she says. “Our parent body is excited about our educational model and love being a part of it.”

Looking ahead, Kasper points to a bright future, which includes a tuition grant for next year that lowers the first-year tuition in grades K through 9 to only $5000. 

In addition, she notes, “last year we rolled out a new humanities course, a music technology course and a new lower school math curriculum. Next year, we will continue to reflect and pursue excellence in everything that we do, while at the same time getting our message out to the community about this mighty and unique school.” 

For more information and tickets, visit ssds-hartford.org or call (860) 561-0700.

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