“The “yet” is very important. ‘We are not there yet.’” Having the ability to see that the path could be long or winding is part of the growth mindset that Reesa Karch has incorporated into her life. “I do a lot better when there is a plan and a road map, but with life there isn’t a road map. I have had a number of experiences, personal and professional, where what I thought would be or what I had worked towards/what I had hoped for, didn’t come to fruition or in the time frame or way that I had wanted. When you deal with unexpected health challenges, or unexpected learning challenges, it throws you for a loop, and I’ve been through a few loops. I think it only makes me and my family stronger, but certainly it was really hard, and it still can be.” When asked if she relies on anything to get through challenges, “I relied on help from others. I don’t think I would be the person I am today, or the educator or mother I am today, without being vulnerable and sharing and being open to advice. Sharing with the right people and the right way, you have support but you also get to be able to see things you can’t see. Different perspectives.” Understanding that there are multiple ways to look at a situation, is a conscious consideration Reesa carries to her job as principal of Netivot. “I am open to feedback and I really listen and try to look at situations from multiple angles and see if there is a way to take the feedback and make positive change with it.”
“I get it. Parenting is really really hard. There is no playbook, just because you have one child who went down one path, your next one is going to go down a completely different path.” Reesa explains she often shares her own personal parenting experiences with Netivot parents. “It’s a way of both saying, ‘I’ve been there’, but also ‘these are some things that I’ve tried that might work.’” As a mom, Reesa stresses to her two daughters, “It’s about the process, not the product. Did you do all you could? If they can say yes and articulate how they did that, that is enough for me. It’s not about the level 4, it is about how they got to the level they got.”
Spending time with extended family, baking the latest TikTok trends with her daughters and skiing on Sundays are some of the places Reesa can be found when not at Netivot. However, she doesn’t fully turn off when she leaves the building. She’s compassionate and understands that below the surface everyone has their own story. 600 students, all their parents, 100 staff members, plus herself! “When you’re talking about a real life situation of something that happens at school, you can’t just turn it off. The emotions don’t go away just because you walk through your home door. It is with true care that I handle these situations.”
After being inspired by a project at her nephew’s school, Reesa coordinated the building of a skating rink by Netivot students. She loved that students were involved every step of the way and could say, “I built that, I persevered from inception to completion.” Since becoming principal at Netivot in 2018, she’s been a part of the construction process for the Walerstein Learning Commons and the STEAM lab. These initiatives had students involved in the planning discussions and even in building furniture – some bookshelves, tables and stools were student-built! Reesa is also responsible for bringing the drama program to Netivot and consulted on the creation of the STEAM program.
Reesa’s passion? “Having moments to connect with kids outside of the classroom is something I’m very passionate about. I try to go to every field trip, game, debate, that I can make it to. It’s really about finding those moments to connect to kids at Shabbatons, overnights, grad trips. Those moments make what we do in the classroom that much better.”