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2015-2016 New School Year!

Friday, 4 September, 2015 - 4:47 pm

Dear Hebrew Academy Families, 

Welcome to the 2015 – 2016 School Year! Our first week has been full of wonderment and learning already. It warms my heart to see all the students’ joy in learning and in seeing their friends. I thought we might want to just celebrate some of the successes from last year and share some things to look forward to this year.

Dedication to Educating Every Student
  • Introduction of the Center of Excellence – Founded by Dr. Hilary Buff during the 2014 – 2015 school year. Established a place and system to offer students extra services (right on campus) they need to reach their full potential – Acceleration, Tutoring, Counseling, Academic Assessment, Parent Education, Occupational/Speech Therapy and more! This year, the elementary division will be adding a pull out program to make sure to challenge our students who want some more and to support students who need help in reading or math. In the middle and high school division, we will be adding a learning center option for tutoring on site. 
Encouraging Intellectual, Emotional, Spiritual and Ethical Growth
  • In 2014 – 2015 – We offered optional challenges during Town Hall meetings that stretched students’ courage, minds, empathy and pride. Town Hall meetings occur twice a month. During the meetings, the entire student body comes together to discuss successes, challenges and opportunities. Dr. Carlson offered various monthly challenges this year. What was extraordinary about these contests was that they were not “required,” nor were they “taught.” Students could memorize poems and recite them, come up with “punny” jokes and deliver them, create philanthropic opportunities and implement them or describe people and things for which they are grateful. Over 50% of the student body (ages 5 to 18 years old) took advantage of one or more of these tests of their own fruition. They stepped up and had the courage to explore, create, study and present their findings in front of the entire school… with no pushing from parents, teachers or others. These are my heroes! This year, we have added a component whereby each of the elementary grades will be presenting their learning at a Town Hall meeting. The schedule will be posted soon – you won’t want to miss these Town Hall Meetings. 
Instilling a Sense of Self-worth and Commitment to Learning Judaism
  • Just imagine a place where children have an opportunity to play and work in an environment where it’s cool for boys to wear yarmulkes and girls to dress modestly. What if parents didn’t have to fight the uphill battle of helping their children stay young and avoid inappropriate media. How do children feel when instead of being a minority socially, emotionally and religiously, they are among others like them? At The Hebrew Academy last year, we offered a variety of classes and opportunities for our students and families to gain a deeper understanding and commitment to their Jewish heritage and community. Students learned logical thinking, Hebrew reading and Jewish traditions through well-developed and honed Judaic curriculum that is seamlessly woven into their stellar General Studies education. Additionally, families had an opportunity to enjoy a glamourous camping Shabbat weekend that was like no other. Of course, this will continue on through the years. 
Providing a Challenging and Dynamic General Studies Program
  • Our teachers are second-to-none among educators in Orange County and beyond. All teachers are credentialed in their subject areas, and 83% of our teachers and administrators hold Masters’ degrees or higher. Quite a few of our teachers earned recognition from national or local educational organizations. To name a few: Dr. Carlson was named as a member of the American Business Women’s Association, Ms. Schneider was invited by Edutopia (Gates’ Foundation) to offer a perpetual Blog, Ms. Lydon was nominated to present at the National History Society’s Annual Conference being held at UCLA, Morah Rabin was honored for her ability to get such beautiful writing from her students, and all General and Judaic teachers were honored by the Buck Institute for their ability to expertly integrate Project-based Learning into the curriculum to seamlessly. This year, we are challenging ourselves to participate in a variety of academic contests and tournaments, such as chess, math, robotics and science. We know we are ready to jump in and take the academic world by storm. 
Developing Competent, Enthusiastic and Resourceful Scholars
  • Our 12th grade graduates were outstanding representatives of The Hebrew Academy education and community. 
    • 40% of them are WOWs (students who have attended The Hebrew Academy for 13 years or more)
    • 10% of them earned a composite score of 36 on the ACT (perfect score)
    • 100% of the graduates are moving on to highly selective post K-12 educational institutions
      • 60% of them applied to and were accepted to University of California, California State or 
    • 100% of these young ladies are competent, enthusiastic, resourceful scholars whom we are proud to call our alumnae first-tier, four year private universities (including Ivy Leagues)
Preparing students to thrive in an increasingly complex and technologically demanding world
  • Through instructional practices that integrate hands-on opportunities to work as teams, use technology ubiquitously, communicate in written, artistic and oral forms and be curious about the world, The Hebrew Academy offers an educational environment that prepares our students to make a positive difference in their world. Last year, particularly, we introduced Project-based Learning, technical coding, creative writing, physics at the middle school level and algebraic problem-solving in kindergarten and beyond. This year, we will be continuing on with PBL, and we will be taking video conference tours and classes all over the world, learning coding and 3-D printing, and taking on internships (high school). 

All I can say is that we can’t wait to enjoy this year; it is one that will be full of care, commitment, consistency and communication. Please invite your friends and family to participate in our holiday events and make sure that you stay involved. The Parent Association has put together a “Whatsapp” for parents. Contact Lauren Amler at admin@hacds.org (include your cell phone number) if you would like to join the group. 

Warmly, 

Dr. Carlson

 

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