Upper School Hosts Innovation Day

Leo Eigen '25

Each year, the Upper School TEC Department sends the freshmen and sophomore classes to Innovation Day, an event run by the Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education (CIJE). The annual Innovation Day serves as the final presentation for students’ capstone projects, which they create in their TEC classes.

However, Ramaz students did not attend this year’s Innovation Day with CIJE, and instead hosted one inside of the Upper School where students from tenth and eleventh grade were invited to view the projects. 

The CIJE website explains that Innovation Day is designed to display and share the work which students have spent months “conceptualizing, creating and engineering” during their yearlong TEC classes. This year’s CIJE program took place on May 23rd at the American Dream Mall in New Jersey. The Ramaz decision not to attend the inter-school fair was mainly due to logistical complications of scheduling and proximity to the Israel trip, according to Dr. Rotenberg, who teaches multiple ninth grade TEC classes. Because of the special advisory sessions and grade-wide meetings which were planned in advance of the Israel trip, it would have been difficult to coordinate a schedule where the grade was able to have the necessary preparations for Israel while simultaneously participating in Innovation Day. Dr. Rotenberg also added that since a small number of ninth and tenth grade TEC groups were not planning on attending the event, organizing additional programming and classes for those students would have presented a challenge.

Ultimately, Ramaz’s in-school Innovation Day was held on Monday, May 23rd during seventh, eighth, and part of ninth periods. A guest speaker, Adam Scheer, who graduated from Ramaz in 1990, addressed the students before the event began. During the fair, students were able to look at their classmates’ projects and also to give a “pitch” about their own projects. Some ninth and tenth graders did not mind holding the in-school Innovation Day in lieu of attending the CIJE program. Ben Shapiro ’25, for example, says that when he first heard the news, he “was happy to hear that it was going to be done in school instead” because he “felt that my group was not yet fully ready to present” for the larger CIJE event. On the other hand, some students felt they would have preferred to go to the CIJE event, and said that they had spent the year designing their project with the inter-school program in mind– not the Ramaz-only event. 

Overall, students enjoyed their Innovation Day and felt it was a good way to wrap up their year of TEC classes despite not being able to present their projects to students and faculty of other Jewish schools as originally planned. After the program, Ben Shapiro ’25 said that he enjoyed it and was thankful that he was able to showcase his group’s project in the smaller environment of the Ramaz auditorium. Dr. Rotenberg acknowledges that there were cons to not having gone to the CIJE Innovation Day, but also says that, looking in retrospect, there were some areas where he thinks the Ramaz TEC fair could have even been better.