I can’t help but to be intoxicated with the atmosphere around me today, with happy sounds of Preschool and Day School getting started here at the JJC, and seeing all of our neighborhood kids as they stood at their bus stops this morning or walked, hand in hand, into their schools as I drove to work.
Although we still have a few weeks to go, I feel re-energized and ready to take on the challenges that all Religious School programs face each year: How do we make Religious School stimulating and fun for our kids? How do we teach so many different levels of abilities in one classroom, while still allowing our kids the maximum exposure to other Jewish children of their own age? How do our students learn to treat each other in a Jewish and ethical way when they are tired, stressed, and hungry?
My summer has been focused on thinking “out of the box” to answer some of these questions. This year, you will see some changes and welcome additions to our curriculum.
By the end of last spring, most of our teachers had become quite adept at using smartboards and laptops in the classrooms, and we are now ready to move to the next level with the technology that we are so lucky to have in our Religious School. You’ll be seeing more use of new programs, multi-media communication, and global connections. We discover new uses every day!
We thrive on our inclusive policy of welcoming every Jewish child into our classrooms as one community, no matter of their educational background or learning needs. However, we do struggle with more academic subjects when we have such a wide variety of levels and abilities. This year, we will debut a self-paced Hebrew reading and prayer program with our 4th, 5th, and 6th grades. This program will be taught by a carefully picked team of teachers: Audrey Goldberg, our Special Needs professional; seasoned Hebrew teachers of all levels including Hanna Bendit, Lea Gabbay, Dave Schmerer, and Karen Morse; our Bar/Bat Mitzvah tutor Scott Zimmerman; Hazzan Holzer, Rabbi Olitzky and myself. We are also expecting to add some great role models in the mix with our madrachim – teens who are volunteering their time to work with our younger students. Now, students can learn together, but with the use of differentiated teaching styles, individualized plans, and ongoing assessment, we will be able to challenge every student in our school at their own level.
The Galinsky Academy is now a reality, and one of the first intiatives that all four schools together have been working on is to to create a “Community of Kindness” with Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS). Our goal is to help us to learn how to treat each other and to avoid bullying behavior in our schools. Please read the details on our home page.
We say goodbye to some of our teaching staff this year: Rivka Cohen, Eta Perras, and Ronni Ticker. We are sorry to lose them and thank them for their past commitment to our Religious school. We look forward to increased, regular classroom involvement by Hazzan Holzer and Rabbi Olitzky. Also new to our Religious School family is my new, enthusiastic administrative assistant Ivy Kfare, who will replace Jesse Roman and Michelle Jernigan at the BASRS main desk. With the office in such capable hands, I will be spending more time in the Hebrew classroom – a role that I truly love more than any other!
I’m looking forward to seeing all of our students on September 9!