President’s Mid-Year Letter

Dear Schechter Manhattan Parents,

One of the most fun parts of being Board President at Schechter Manhattan is getting to talk with so many people about our unique school.  I want to share with you some of what I’ve been hearing and give you an update on some of the organizational inner-workings going on this year, including some changes to tuition.

Marketing and Outreach

Like all of you, I hear a lot of great things about our school. Here are a few of the things people have said to me about Schechter Manhattan this year so far:

From a first grade parent:  “Schechter Manhattan was the only school we applied to for kindergarten.  I’ve only ever seen this incredible hands-on, creative, problem-solving type of education at MIT.  And that’s what I wanted for my child, nothing else!”

From a third grade parent:  “When my child was in preschool, I knew Schechter Manhattan existed, but I’d never thought much about it. Then I got a chance to meet one of Schechter Manhattan’s seventh graders.  That kid had so much poise, and was so thoughtful and interesting to talk with! I knew that I wanted my child to turn out like that seventh grader, so I needed to learn more. And I fell in love with what I saw when I visited.”

From a Jewish educator in NYC:  “Wow.  This place is different from other schools.  It’s rare to see such consistency of student engagement and teaching style when walking from classroom to classroom.”

From a grandparent who toured the school:  “I loved seeing the intensity of learning from the students!  They were all so busy with their work, most of them didn’t even look up when we walked in!”

From an alumnus:  “I’ve thought about it, and 78% of who I am today is because of Schechter Manhattan.  No other place would have supported me in the ways I needed at that age so that I could go on to a good high school and college, and be in the business development and sales role, at a major company, that I’m in now.”

Sharing these great stories with the larger community, and recruiting families to Schechter Manhattan, continue to be highest strategic priorities of the Board of Trustees and senior staff.  We want even more children to experience Schechter Manhattan’s rigorous academics, an education provided through a child-centered approach and nurturing environment, where graduates go on to the top high schools in New York City.  This year, we’ve introduced new tools and events to enable this growth, and I’m hoping that you’ll help in one, two, or all three of them.

In addition, we’ve started a series of events for preschool children and their families.  Over 60 children, ages 2-5, attended these events, enabling all of those families to experience our unique approach to learning and fun.  We’ve also started a series of tours focused specifically for families of transfer students in Grades 1-5 (April 1st, 9-10:15 am) or Middle School students (February 4th, 9-10:15 am and March 30th, 9-10:15 am).  Please help spread the word, and people can register to join a tour on the Schechter Manhattan website.

New Market Research:  From our community to our curriculum to the confidence we inspire in our students and families, Schechter Manhattan has an amazing story to tell. Those who know us, recognize these strengths and our impact. However, as we strive to expand our reputation and reach, it’s important to ensure that we continue to clarify our messaging to amplify interest, engagement with and action from prospective families.

To guide how, where and to whom we tell our story, we have partnered with the Additive Agency, a purpose-driven consultancy, to embark on qualitative and quantitative research. This research will focus on uncovering awareness of Schechter Manhattan, as well as perceptions of our school, other Jewish day schools, independent schools and public schools, in order to understand what motivates enrollment decisions. We’ll be sending the survey in the next month, and would greatly appreciate your participation. Your responses will be vital in focusing our strategy and story.


Tuition for 2020-21


As you know, Schechter Manhattan’s tuition has remained flat for the past three years.  Looking toward next year, the Board of Trustees has approved a change in the way we calculate tuition across the grades: we’re moving to tuition “bands.”  That means that, instead of a different tuition level for each grade, there will be now be one level for 1-2, a different level for grades 3-5 and a separate level for the middle school grades. We’re hoping that a band structure is simpler for everyone.

The average tuition per year will increase this year about 2%, the first tuition increase since 2017.  The shift to the new bands structure means that there is variance in increases across the grades during this transition year, from .2% to 3.1%.

Our overall tuition mechanisms have not changed, including the criteria for tuition assistance, which, as always, are based upon each individual family’s circumstances. Specifics about tuition for 2020-21 are here. New this year on the website is a chart to help families anticipate the likelihood of receiving tuition assistance.  We encourage you to share the information with friends who may be curious.  In addition, the Tuition Calculator continues as it has in years past, designed to allow families who may be seeking a relatively small amount of tuition assistance to check their eligibility quickly and confidentially.


At Schechter Manhattan, we are dedicated to creating a diverse and engaging environment where every child thrives. Income from tuition enables us to provide a special combination of personalized, academic excellence and meaningful Jewish living and learning. It enables us to invest in dynamic teachers and their professional development, as well as the tools and technology that create inspiring learning experiences.  I am glad that you are a part of this vibrant community.

Leadership Development and Governance

As many of you know (and have experienced!), we’ve had a real focus for the past four years or so on volunteer engagement and leadership development.  It’s been thrilling for me to see so many of you, as well as alumni parents, grandparents, alumni, and community members, get involved in volunteering with Schechter Manhattan.

This year, Schechter Manhattan trustees will participate in three different selective programs that focus on leadership and governance, and we are eager to grow even stronger in these areas as a result of our participation.

Preside:  Schechter Manhattan has been selected as one of 15 Jewish organizations to participate in Preside.  Preside is a 15-month program designed to address virtually all aspects of the partnership between professional and lay leadership, to enable the professional and lay leadership to lead with Jewish values and vision-focused inquiry, and to establish sustainable practices.

OnBoard/NYC:  Schechter Manhattan Trustees Andrea Brustein and Daniel Radomski were chosen to participate in OnBoard/NYC, in collaboration with the NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.  OnBoard/NYC is a year-long fellowship focused on leading Jewish non-profits in NYC, including designing a project that will advance Schechter Manhattan’s work.

Board Member Institute:  I am participating in the Board Member Institute for Jewish Non-Profits, taught by Northwestern University’s Kellogg faculty, as well as professionals from the Jewish communal world.  The BMI is focused on the various aspects of non-profit governance and strengthening the skills of board members.

We are excited that we have been chosen to participate in these prestigious programs.  I look forward to sharing with all of you what we learn from them, and how they have positively influenced our work at Schechter Manhattan.


I am so grateful to be working with such a great staff team at Schechter Manhattan, led by our wonderful Ben Mann;  I’m so appreciative of all of the dedicated and creative faculty who teach, challenge, and nurture our children each day;  and I am deeply grateful to all of you for your support – for your volunteer time for, financial investment in, care of, and commitment to our amazing school.  Thank you for making this a great role for me!

As we have the past few years, I’d love to sit with you, hear your thoughts, and answer any questions.  Please rsvp here if you’re planning to join me on February 7, at 8:15am, or February 10 at 8:30pm for conversation, located at a home near school.  Or you can always reach me at [email protected].  I look forward to hearing from you!


All my best,

Julie R. Sissman

President, Board of Trustees

Schechter Manhattan