12 Tribes of CDS: Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph, Benjamin, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, and Zebulun
Part of Community Day School’s ongoing commitment to the social and emotional development of our students is our innovative Shevatim (Tribes) program. This initiative, created in conjunction with our Mensch Project (a research-based positive behavioral support program), brings together students from each grade and staff on alternate Fridays to either celebrate Kabbalat Shabbat as a community or to participate in team-building educational activities.
All students are assigned to a shevet, or tribe, at the beginning of their CDS experience. These shevatim, named for the Twelve Tribes of Israel, give our students an opportunity to mentor younger students, learn from older students, and interact with their “tribal elders” (our faculty and staff) who facilitate activities and act as mentors for the students in their tribes.
Perhaps one of the most special experiences for the parent of a CDS kindergarten or Early Childhood student is running into an 8th grader outside of school who you've never seen before and who greets your child, by name, with a hug. "How do you know her?" the parent asks. "She is in my Tribe!" is inevitably the answer.
The Mensch Project
The Shevatim program works in conjunction with our Mensch Project, a school-wide positive behavioral support program. Developed in partnership with education researchers at Duquesne University, the Mensch Project is an evidence-based, data-driven program to maximize academic engagement and improve student behavior outcomes.
"Mensch" is the Yiddish word to describe a person of integrity and honor. In the first month of school, students are taught the set of expectations at CDS that fall under the categories of being "Ready, Respectful, and Responsible" and have the opportunity to practice these "menschy" behaviors. They are then rewarded for displaying these behaviors with Mensch Cards—pieces of paper that provide a token, but tangible reward for doing good deeds or following the school's expectations.
Mensch Cards are used as positive reinforcement for doing the right thing, and their distribution (as well as consequences for non-ideal behaviors) are carefully tracked. Our Mensch Project also includes a group recognition for the tribes whose members routinely go above and beyond what is expected of them, and who stand out as “upstanders."
Typically, the reward for these tribes is a dress-down day, which is announced with great anticipation every other week at full-school Kabbalat Shabbat, where students sit together with their Shevatim.