A great privilege of my more than ten years at Schechter Manhattan has been watching our students become our graduates. The 5 year olds who join us in Gan grow into self reflective, motivated, thoughtful, accomplished, menschy teenagers. And while I am always sad when our students leave us, I am also super proud of each and every one of them. Recently I was in touch with a number of our alumni, who shared with me what they are doing and reflected about the impact of their Schechter Manhattan education.
The class of 2016 has been in high school for only a couple of months, and they are doing really well – here are some of their reflections.
Noah ‘16 is at Horace Mann for high school, where he is involved in the Model Congress and just had a piece published in the Horace Mann Review. Noah writes, “High school has been a new challenge for me as can be expected but I am finding many concepts that I grasped at Schechter Manhattan very useful. The first of which is the emphasis placed on “smart” working whether it be studying or otherwise. Rather than working for a much longer period, I’ve begun to create an efficient study plan.”
Amnon ‘16 also reports participation in extracurricular activities at Friends Seminary. “High school has been going so well and I feel very well prepared. Schechter Manhattan has really helped me with my social skills and academic skills. I really miss Schechter Manhattan and hope to visit soon! During high school so far I have participated as a starting member on the junior varsity soccer team, I am part of the newspaper club, photography club, and I am taking the programming elective.”
Noa ‘16 is also taking advantage of the opportunities at her school, the NYC Lab School for Collaborative Studies. “So far, I have had a great start to the school year. I have made some great friends, and am enjoying all my classes…Some of the clubs and activities that I am involved in, are debate, musical theater, social action club, and the volleyball team.”
Michael ‘16 reports that he has had a smooth transition to the Heschel High School. “I don’t have many challenges, because most of them have been addressed in Schechter Manhattan. Managing my social life and my school work is not difficult, and the transition has been very smooth.” He also noted that he is enjoying his Jewish studies. “My class and I discuss certain pesukim for a very long time and develop multiple perspectives of their meanings. Schechter Manhattan really prepared me for this kind of Torah studying by helping us to identify roots of words, and patterns in the text.”
Molly ‘16 reflects on her transition to the Elisabeth Irwin High School (LREI) and her Jewish identity. “Moving from a Jewish school to a non-Jewish school has been a little bit challenging. Although I am enjoying meeting new kinds of people, I miss learning Hebrew and it feels weird not saying Tefillah every morning. But to stay in practice of Tefillah and Torah reading I am participating a lot at my synagogue.”
Jonah ‘16 has enjoyed his start at the Heschel High School, but he also shares that being in a new school “makes me realize more and more by the day how great it was at Schechter Manhattan. Being in a nice small community where you know everyone is a really nice experience. I will never forget it.”
I also heard from some Alumni who are further along in high school and college.
Ella ‘15 supplements her studies at the Baruch College Campus High School with involvement in social justice issues, studying at the JCC about ways to combat racism, sexism, classism, adultism, homophobia and their intersectionality and building community activism leadership skills through participation in the Citizens’ Committee for Children’s Youth Community Leadership Course. Ella writes, “My Schechter Manhattan education is visible to me every time I ask a provocative question in global lit class, provide a new understanding to why things work in geometry or a creative connection in history. My Schechter Manhattan education truly gave me the skills essential to my growth outside of it. It gave me a view of who I am as a student and what helps me to best reach my full potential. And to be a driven action seeker who is forceful and consistent in the activities I am involved in as well as those I seek to be in.”
Joseph ‘14 found time to be in touch with me as he traveled to a tournament with his teammates on the Heschel High School varsity basketball team. He shares about his newest academic passion. “My biggest new educational interest is the study of Latin. My Latin classes throughout high school have been similar in many ways to my education at Schechter Manhattan, as I am one of six students who has chosen to enter this field. Because we are such a small group, our learning is less grade-motivated and more focused on our collective passion for learning.”
Ezra ‘14 reflects on academic skills he developed at Schechter Manhattan that help him succeed in his studies at the Bronx High School of Science. “In some classes we have socratic seminars every couple of weeks in which the teacher puts a broad question on the board and we simply have the entire class period to discuss the question and argue with each other. Often times we have to refer back to a specific text depending on what we had just read that week. The way that Schechter Manhattan helped is that I notice that many kids are not used to this type of classroom environment and structure and are too afraid to speak, while we were already having the types of discussions as early as 4th or 5th grade. Another important skill is creating presentations and presenting to the class. Between our presentation on the Federalist and Anti Federalist papers in 7th grade, and all of our exhibitions through middle school, I learned how to become a really solid presenter. Simple skills such as making eye contact with the audience and speaking loud and clear are things that not everyone has really learned.”
Talia ‘12 graduated from Schechter Westchester High School and started this fall at Dartmouth College, where she has found an interest in international relations and has quickly become a leader in the Jewish community. She writes, “Schechter Manhattan instilled within me a deep love for Judaism and the Jewish people, that has propelled my involvement with the Hillel here and helped me transfer values of Talmud Torah and Gemilut Chasidim to my positions on the board, in planning events such as professor talks, weekly discussions, Challah for Hunger, and a Bikkur Cholim program.”
Sarene ‘10 attended Schechter Westchester High School and is now a junior at Cornell University. Sarene was back at Schechter Manhattan during a recent break between semesters when she worked as a substitute teacher in our first grade. Sarene reflects, “Schechter Manhattan has been a huge part of who I am. As an elementary school student, I was nurtured with a love of learning. As a middle school student, I was prepared to face the academic and personal struggles of high school. As a high school student, I found my Jewish identity based in the values I learned at Schechter Manhattan. And, even now, Schechter Manhattan continues to support me as a college student.”
Avital ‘08 attended Horace Mann High School and then spent a year studying Torah at Midreshet Ein Hanatziv in Israel. She is a senior at the University of Chicago, where she is also sharing her love of Jewish text study with teenagers in the local Jewish community. She writes that, “The creative, student-centered teaching and learning I saw as a student at Schechter Manhattan shapes the ways I help my students learn today, as co-director of the Hyde Park Teen Beit Midrash.”
The graduates of our first classes are beyond college and are pursuing their careers.
Danny ‘07 attended Trinity High School and then MIT. He is now a software engineer at Facebook’s Compassion Team and he continues to see the impact of his years at Schechter Manhattan on his personal and professional lives. He writes, “Schechter Manhattan nurtured my intellectual curiosity, my critical analysis skills, and my sense of mindfulness towards the world around me, and helped lay the foundation of my present interests and passions.”
We can all be proud of our alumni. Their successes are inspiring. They are living the Schechter Manhattan mission for “our graduates to confidently go forth to meet the intellectual, social, and moral challenges that lie ahead, poised not only to do well in life, but also to do good in the world.”
Each week we will feature the written work of our students. We hope that you will stop by every week and see what they are writing and thinking about.
As part of our writing unit, students are making lists of things they are interested in to help with the writing process.
“MUZUk” (music) and “bOkS” (books)
This past month, the students of Kitah Bet began learning Sefer Bereshit and the Story of Creation. They studied the pesukim about Tohu V’ Vohu, the state of chaos, found in the world before God began to create order. Students were asked to think and write about how they would feel living in a world filled with chaos
In math class, students wrote their own division story problems for the problem 39 divided by 6. We then discussed how the context of the story impacts how we treat the remainder.
Ella went to the pet shop and got 39 dogs. She wanted to split into 6. How many did each get gets?
– Ella B
On the Hogwarts express, Ron, Hermione, and Harry were sitting in their seats. Luna, Neville, and Ginny were sitting behind them. It was Harry’s b-day. Luna wanted to share here 39 peppermint treats with all of them. All got equal but their were three left. She gave it to fret, George, and Perry.
Chloe has 39 slices of cakes. She wants to share her cake between herself and her 5 other friends. How many cakes will each person get?
– Ella C
Mr. Burnman owns a bakery. He made 39 brownies. Because it was his birthday, he decides to share them with 5 friends. How many brownies does everyone get including Mr. Burnman? Each friend gets 6.5 brownies to eat.
Sixth-grade students applied concepts in number theory to their “favorite numbers” and published their findings in posters.