I get to see the excellent and innovative approach to teaching and learning in Schechter Manhattan classrooms each day. Our unique approach has also gotten the attention of educators and leaders in the Jewish community. Lately several groups have identified our school as a model of excellence and come to learn from us in a few different areas of our educational program.
Recently, a group of Jewish studies directors from other Jewish day schools came to visit Schechter Manhattan, to see our t’filah program in action, and consider what they might learn from it for their own schools. The purpose driven approach to t’filah education at Schechter Manhattan stands out from other schools. Our combined focus on skill development, meaning making, and community building is based on the premise that traditional Jewish prayer should be positive and powerful. This coming week our first grade students will display their learning at the Siyum Ha’Amidah. Using their personally made siddurim, they will present both their precise recitation of the blessings of the weekday amidah and their thoughtful consideration of the meaning of each for their lives.
The work of the Lieberman Family STEAM Center also continues to garner positive attention. Visitors to the school frequently express surprise that computer coding instruction begins in the Schechter Manhattan Kindergarten class. We explain, that as with all areas, we know that in order for students to learn complex content, concepts, and skills they need to start with building blocks in the youngest grades. Our K students engaging with the fundamentals of computer science sets them up for high achievement in the future, and we are excited to see what creative solutions to real world problems they will be able to develop when they reach middle school.
Schechter Manhattan has even been recognized from the distant vantage of Israel. Over the last couple of years delegations of Israeli educators and leaders have come to Schechter Manhattan, to learn about how we nurture positive Jewish identity formation in the diaspora. Groups have included advisors to members of Knesset, officials at the Israeli Ministry of Education, and teachers and school administrators from throughout Israel. These visits have included valuable dialogue about the relationship between the Jewish communities in the United States and Israel, and we have received consistently positive feedback about our thoughtful approach to Israel education. Another group of Israeli educators is scheduled to visit in April.
When folks from the larger community come to learn with and from us, I believe we can all schepp naches, feel pride in our special school.