Tuesday, January 31, 2012

1st Grade Siddur Presenation

The first graders, under the direction of Morah Chavi Katz and Morah Chavi Greenblatt, made us all proud with their performance at our siddur presentation this past Sunday.  Putting their newly acquired Hebrew skills and their love for singing and davening on display for all, it was a special event for everyone.  Our hope is that both their skills and their enthusiasm only continue to grow.

Below is a compilation of some of the best pictures from the event.  For the full album, click here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Early Childhood Receives NAEYC Accreditation

It is with great pride and sincere gratitude to our Early Childhood Director, Mrs. Charna Schubert, and our outstanding group of Early Childhood teachers, that I inform you that our Early Childhood department has recieved accreditation from the National Association for Education of Young Children.

For those unfamiliar, NAEYC is the gold standard of accreditation for Early Childhood programs.  Recieving it was a three year process of training, upgrading, surveying, improving, and copious documenting of every aspect of our program.  NAEYC has ten different program standards with at least 30 criteria in each standard.  For a program to be accredited it must meet at least 80% of the assessed criteria.  In the report we recieved yesterday, we learned that in nine of the ten standards our program met 100% of the assessed criteria and in five of the ten standards we recieved a 100+ indicating that we have even met non-required "emerging criteria" as well.

This is a historic landmark in the growth of our school and a welcome indicator that our efforts to raise our school's standards and help our children soar are bearing tangible fruit.

So mazel tov again to our entire Early Childhood department and I look forward to many more such milestones in the years to come.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Guest Blogger: Elan Cooper, 7th grade

My parents have stressed to me that our family feels that when we celebrate a Simcha like my Bar Mitzvah this weekend, it is a proud and special moment to do good deeds at the same time.

While in Israel recently to celebrate my Hanachat Tefillin at the Kotel, I had a few occasions to witness the fine work of the Darkaynu programs, which cater to the special needs of a diverse group of students — students with severe learning disabilities, mild retardation, and Down Syndrome. Darkaynu was created to provide these young men and women with the same year-in-Israel experience that their peers, siblings, and neighbors enjoy. The boys learn alongside their mainstream peers in Yeshivat Har Etzion and the girls are in Midreshet Lindenbaum in Yerushalayim.

Their programming affords these young men and women with the opportunity of a lifetime: they get the chance to learn real relevant Torah, to tour Eretz Yisrael, spend Shabbos with friends. Above all, perhaps, these students have the opportunity to spend a full year away from home — learning how to think and learn and live on their own. They learn about themselves; their strengths and weaknesses, and what they have to offer Klal Yisroel as individuals and as part of their greater Jewish community. 

Over the course of our school year, the students meet various groups and spend Shabbat with a number of Yeshivot and communities throughout Israel. While in Israel in November, I myself had a chance to see and meet several students from Darkaynu, and with my Dad and brother Jeremy at my side, I came up with an idea for my then upcoming Bar Mitzvah weekend. I decided to use my Bar Mitzvah gifts to fund a Shabbaton of the Darkaynu students this very Shabbos. This weekend is quite unique. While we are celebrating my Bar Mitzvah here, my Bar Mitzvah gift dollars will give Darkaynu students the opportunity to meet and befriend a group with diverse background and interests, from varying levels of religious observance, and then, to look beyond all of the external differences to experience Shabbat as friends. The students this Shabbat are at Bar Ilan university simply enjoying meeting kids and expanding their horizons during their sacred year in Eretz Yisroel, and embracing the acceptance of them as peers and friends who are excited to be in that special environment. 

You and I may take this acceptance for granted, but the young men and women in the Darkaynu Programs appreciate the new friends and shared experiences from this special weekend. It is my prayer that just like I will remember this Bar Mitzvah weekend here for years to come, they will be talking about their memories from their Shabbaton this weekend and from their unusual experience at Darkaynu.


Senior Wins Comcast Award

Last week, 12th Grader Alexa Wender was awarded Comcast's Leaders and Achiever's scholarship.  According to their website, Comcast looks for the "best and brightest seniors" in communities across the country who are also "catalysts for positive change in their communities" and "serve as models for their fellow students." Those of us who know Alexa, know that she fits the bill perfectly.

Along with Jeremy Cooper's early acceptance to MIT and Columbia and Sade Cooper's early acceptance to Barnard, Alexa's award is another feather in the cap of our outstanding 12th grade and we expect even more exciting news from them over the coming weeks and months.