New head of school at Milwaukee Jewish Day School: Create generation mensch

WHITEFISH BAY – After a long summer break, it can be hard for students and teachers to get back into the swing of things.

But not for Aaron Lippman, the new head of school of the Milwaukee Jewish Day School, a pluralistic co-educational school for Jewish children through eighth grade.

Lippman is roaring to get started. His enthusiasm for the Whitefish Bay school is palpable when he talks about the upcoming school year.

“I’ve worked in a lot of schools in different places,” he said. “The kind of education that’s offered at MJDS is beyond anything I’ve ever experienced.”

Aaron Lippman

Before coming to MJDS, Lippman — a married father of three — was a principal with Carmen Schools of Science & Technology since 2013. The schools operate several campuses in Milwaukee, geared toward students interested in leadership, college and the sciences.

Lippman has also served as a teacher and curriculum specialist. Most recently he was the founding principal of Carmen’s new Southeast Campus High School, 2500 W. Oklahoma Ave.

Lippmann is the product of a Jewish day school, which he attended during his childhood in Westchester County, New York. He even met his wife while they were both working at a Jewish day school.

The Chronicle caught up with Lippman to learn about his approach to education.

Chronicle: When did you know you wanted to work in education?

Lippman: I always liked kids. My mom and sister are both educators. A few years after college, I decided to go to grad school to pursue degrees in education and administration.

Chronicle: Please describe your education philosophy.

Lippman: I want students to own their learning. Think about when you were in the eighth grade. What was the class dynamic like? Probably, the teacher told the class what to do, and you didn’t have a choice in what you learned. But students should own the learning and be empowered to learn on their own, to learn how to ask the right questions, how to research, how to collaborate with other students and even learn from failure.

Chronicle: What does this style of learning look like in action?

Lippman: We have an innovation hub … which includes a maker space. This is basically a work space that has tools, drills, wood, 3D printers and other materials so kids can build. It provides a very hands-on, real-time learning experience. Kids have an opportunity to take something they’ve learned in the classroom and take it a step further.

Let’s say students are studying ancient China. They could use virtual reality to take a field trip back in time to see how the Great Wall was built. They could then decide to build their own wall, or apply what they’ve learned to today’s world. For example, the wall President Trump proposes to build. The students can research the economic, social, political and environmental impacts of the wall then and now.

Chronicle: Why is an early Jewish education important?

Lippman: Jews who attend Jewish day schools are more likely to … be involved in the community when they’re older. MJDS gives its students a great education, so the kids will be set up for success. They’ll become mensches — involved members of the community and good Jews.

Correction: Aaron Lippman’s title is head of school. The text of this story has been corrected.