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"Upper School Corner"

Upper School Corner - BNOS CHABAD

This Shabbos we are having our first HAOC Upper School Girls Unity Shabbaton!!!

We are so excited to bring our girls together for a Shabbos of growth, fun and memories. It is going to be an incredible opportunity for our girls grades 6 through 12 to get to know each other and bond in a new way. We are looking forward to a fun outing to bowling and slurpees on Friday followed by a photo booth and souvenir sign in. Mrs. Mushka and Rabbi Friedman will be joining us to provide inspiration over Shabbos. We will be having workshops on healthy friendships, self awareness and independent thinking and lots of fun programming to ensure a great time is had by all. We are going to end off with swimming and a sing along bonfire with music provided by… Read More »

Upper School Corner - Rabbi Avrohom Popack

Judaic studies at the Hebrew Academy strengthens and reinforces everything that our students learn all  across the curriculum.

Moreover, the method in which our students engage in Chumash/ Torah studies in Middle school affords them wonderful opportunities  to stretch their thinking and imagination, and the ability to create and construct powerful and inspiring personal life lessons that they can apply to their  lives as students today and that will guide and shape their characters long into the future.   

As our students study the original text of the Torah, they are asked to make associations and form connections with everything else in their lives.Our Middle school boys Chumash/Torah class incorporates Bloom's… Read More »

Upper School Corner - Mr. Paul Sangha

Scientific Inquiry- Bridging Hearts and Minds

Small class sizes, something I never fathomed to experience in public education. The ability to track, assess, motivate and engage students is a customized experience here at Hebrew Academy. We all learn differently and science can be a difficult topic to get across to young minds. I am very blessed and grateful to have this opportunity to investigate scientific concepts with a group of eager students and a very supportive and flexible staff.

We have began the year as most science classes do, by engaging in discussions and creating a climate of respect and acceptance. Student’s quickly began learning about scientific investigations and how learning can be a community effort. We are… Read More »

Upper School Corner - Mr. Greg Schneider

The end of the calendar year brought with it a wonderful opportunity for the sixth graders to work cooperatively on a middle school project which focused on endangered species.  This Project Based Learning or PBL had our students engaged in deep research in their science classes to find out as much as possible about the impact human activities have had on habitat and species loss.  Through meticulous data collection and analysis, they were able to make connections between climate change and the potential extinction of their chosen species.  Once they collected all of their data, they were tasked with filming an educational video to educate others on the challenges facing their species and how the risks to these animals could… Read More »

Upper School Corner - Mrs. Jennifer Bledsoe


 Preparing for the Future

The students in the high school have been engaged in activities which focus on postsecondary preparedness. We have been examining the entrance requirements of the various colleges and seminaries for which your students have expressed interest. All high school students wrote college application essays for their college or seminary of choice. This was a very practical exercise for our seniors, who have submitted applications beginning at the end of November. We have learned about the traits of a compelling entrance essay, and we’ve explored various methods of writing which will help our students’ submissions to stand out.

Additionally, our seniors sat down for another in an ongoing… Read More »

Upper School Corner - Mrs. Yiska Berkowitz

Hello, my name is Yiska Berkowitz and I teach Jewish History and Yahadus to the Middle School Girls and Jewish History to the Middle School Boys.

In Yahadus, we delved into all of the holidays of Tishrei, as well as the month of Elul and The Fast of Gedaliah.  We reviewed the basics and learned new insights and meanings behind the laws and customs.  I hope your children shared some of the information with you over the holidays!

After Thanksgiving break, I will be doing a unit on The Calendar.  The students will learn why some months have one day of Rosh Chodesh, and others have two, and they will also become more familiar with the dates and events on the Jewish Calendar.

In Jewish History, we picked up right where… Read More »

Upper School Corner - Mr. Greg Schneider

Mr. Schneider’s 6th Grade US History

As the British Colonies in the New World inevitably inch closer and closer to all-out war against the Crown, we are reminded of the power that words have over human events.  Our 6th graders have been exploring this remarkable time in the history of our country with a focus on the impact of the written and spoken word.  They are reminded of the power of words that each of them is endowed.  Whether these words are written down or spoken aloud, they have the opportunity to reflect on the impact their words have on the world around them.  When they write a powerful, emotionally moving essay they are able to affect anyone who reads it.  And more immediately, their spoken words… Read More »

Upper School Corner - Mrs. Marjan Jahanfard

When I announced to our Middle School students that I want them to be the first generation of middle school students not to be intimidated by real world problems and application of math, they looked at me as if I was completely out of mind!

Two months later, they have all risen to the occasion and done their best to keep an open mind while facing this challenge head on.

Just this week, some of the 8th grade girls were learning about football, the velocity of it, and how to predict how long it would take for a pass to get to a certain height. With the football season being underway, the question seemed more relevant than ever. We were able to draw on real examples, talk about the different types of passes, the importance of math and… Read More »

Upper School Corner - Mrs. Raychel Lydon

 Loyalists and Patriots Battle it Out in the Middle School

As November begins, the 7th and 8th grade students at the Hebrew Academy have just finished taking the role of loyal British subjects and rebellious colonial patriots as part of their study of early American history. In their pamphlets, students were required to describe six things that took place between the end of the French and Indian War and the outbreak of the Revolutionary War and use their descriptions to convince other colonists to join in their side. One convincing Patriot wrote, “There are a few MAJOR problems that we have encountered with these troublesome Brits, disgusting rats: The Proclamation of 1763, the Boston Massacre, and the Boston Tea… Read More »

Upper School Corner - Mrs. McKenna Harkins

 Ecosystems and Populations and Habitats-- Oh My!

Since the beginning of the year, the middle school students have been engaging in thoughtful dialogue about ecosystems-- understanding what they are, how they work, and how they can be impacted. In order to do this, students have learned about the living and nonliving factors that influence an ecosystem, and what kinds of responses the ecosystem can have. In addition, students have learned about food chains, food webs, and how interactions between different species can have a big impact!

In order to help students understand these concepts in a hands-on way, Mr. Nason and I have been eager to provide interactive opportunities for the students to engage with the content in a… Read More »

Upper School Corner - Coach Zoltan

 Coach Jonathan Zoltan

Director of Physical Education 

The Hebrew Academy PE program is off to a great start this school year! The students are learning all kinds of sports such as, basketball, baseball, soccer, football and along with many more. As we play these sports throughout the school year, I as their coach, put a strong emphasis on teaching your students sportsmanship. This is an everyday lesson for the students at the Hebrew Academy. I want the kids to learn how to win well and lose graciously. At the end of class both teams will line up to give a high five to the opposing team and say “good game” to build the moral of the entire school. I hope this will message will carry with them for the rest of their… Read More »

Upper School Corner - Mr. Doug Nason

Mr. Doug Nason - Science Teacher 

 "Science is a window through which we view the world. It is not the only window, nor is it always the best window. But it is an important way to view our world."

These are the words I greeted our students with this year. I hope they didn't get too confused! My name is Doug Nason, and I've been teaching science at public and private schools throughout O.C., most notable at the Prentice School in North Tustin. I am so happy to be working here with Mrs. Harkins and the rest of the staff as we craft a meaningful and challenging year for our students. 

The middle school science classes have jumped right into our Life Science text as we explore the inter-connectedness of our… Read More »

Upper School Corner - Rabbi Mendy Naparstek

The Talmud!

We are now full swing into our Talmud classes and it is so rich with with life lessons and life skills! The kids are already able to identify the structure of the Mishne, know the "Who said it?", "What is the case?", "What is the law and why?". They can also navigate their way around a page of Talmud!

There are many thinking skills that the kids have in their bag after spending time learning Talmud, one o those skills that we just focused on is what does 'Inference' mean. This  exercise teaches them to analyze text and have independent thinking.

It is so nice too see all the kids so involved and enthusiastic about their learning!

May we all have a Kesiva Vachasima Tovah - Written and… Read More »

Upper School Corner - Mrs. Michelle Ginsburg

 Mrs. Ginsburg

Middle School English/Language Arts  teacher 

 My name is Michelle Ginsburg and I am the new Middle School English/Language Arts  teacher at the Hebrew Academy.  In our first week of school, We began to use Thinking Maps as a prewriting tool for expository, narrative and persuasive writing. This week, students brought in their outside reading books (ORB) along with a journal. Their dialectical journals will enable the students to create a conversation or dialogue with their novels.  By writing about literature, they will give meaning to the text and reflect thoughtfully on what they are reading.  This is done through quotes and references to the text along with specific and detailed… Read More »

Upper School Corner - Mr. Clay Heller

From the Desk of Clay Heller 

On May 11th, three brave seniors at the Hebrew Academy took the three and a half hour long AP English Language and Composition exam. This test measures their work against a college standard for a Writing and Composition class. It is very difficult, and only 56% of the students who take it are able to pass it. We have very high hopes that the three students who took it this year will be successful. 

Even though our students travel unique paths after high school, the value of the class should be something that stays with them throughout their lives. Each girl practiced developing strong arguments, as they learned how to support their claims with fact-based evidence and statistics. Each girl… Read More »

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