Education Briefs

New Yeshiva for Learning Disabled and GiftedStudents

Rashi Hebrew Academy, a new yeshiva for learning disabled and gifted children, will open Sept. 3 at Congregation Shaarei Tefila on Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles. The school is accepting students from different backgrounds, but is maintained within an Orthodox framework. “We are targeting children that are going to public schools or are in yeshiva schools and cannot completely cope with the rigors of the regular yeshiva day school because of a variety of learning disabilities,” says Jack Rose, administrative director and gifted program coordinator. “They deserve a Jewish education.” The new school is open to both boys and girls ages 8 to 12 and will offer full general studies and religious studies programs. The yeshiva is also sponsoring an after-school homework help program, which will be open to students from other schools, called the Rashi Hebrew Academy Homework Center. For more information on Rashi Hebrew Academy, call (323) 938-1251.

Parents, Schools Communicate WithPACE

A number of local Jewish day schools have begun using Partnership for Academic and Community Excellence (PACE), a new school-to-home communication system, which allows administrators to pass on urgent school-related messages to parents more quickly than ever. For over a year, PACE, a Westwood-based company, has enabled school principals to create personalized recorded announcements that are transferred to all parents, if needed, by telephone.

Schools have used the service in a variety of capacities: to remind parents of upcoming events, to track attendance, to communicate school closings and to report emergency information.

“More schools are using it for safety purposes like a flu epidemic, updating your emergency contact information,” says John Gamba, PACE’s director and co-founder. Some day schools are using the system to reach the temple community to give High Holy Day information, bereavement reminders and information on upcoming rallies.

While the service is available nationwide, most PACE customers are in Southern California. Eileen Horowitz, the head of Temple Israel of Hollywood Day School, says the system has made a difference in event attendance.

Jewish Youths Find Common Ground

During the new school year, four L.A.-area synagogues will work together for the second year in a row in a program called OLAM Shel Machar (formerly Machar). Eleventh- and 12-graders from B’nai David-Judea (Orthodox), Temple Emanuel (Conservative), Temple Beth Am (Reform) and Temple Israel of Hollywood (Reform) will meet for two weekend retreats to discuss issues of faith and their perceptions of God. Because the teens are coming from different movements, the hope is that they will find commonalities in their Judaism. The program, which is in its second year, is currently being funded in part by David Suissa, founder and editor of OLAM magazine.

HUC-JIR Selects Four Teachers for NewProgram

The Rhea Hirsch School of Education of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion has selected four religious schools to participate in a new program called Creating Teaching Excellence in Congregational Education. The initiative is designed to retain teachers and improve their skills. This summer, exceptional educators from Congregation Ner Tamid in Palos Verdes, Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles, Temple Israel of Hollywood and Temple Judea in Tarzana joined together to become mentors to colleagues at their respective religious schools. Mentor teachers learn what is “good teaching,” the importance of reflection, how to teach adult learning and why teachers are resistant to change.

Professor Sara Lee, director of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education, believes that supplementary schools generally suffer from lack of a skilled and effective faculty. The solution, she feels, is to “strengthen the teaching capacity for people teaching at our schools,” she said. There is turnover, because these people don’t feel well-equipped. Let’s work with the people we have and help them be better equipped. The notion of working within the school site is the heart of this project.”

Briefs compiled by Sharon Schatz Rosenthal, Education Writer.