Miriam L. Wallach, the host of "That's Live with Miriam L. Wallach" on the Nachum Segal Radio Show, interviewed Rabbi Netanel Gralla on her radio show yesterday. Listen to the archived version by clicking on this link:
The following op-ed, written by Gershon Distenfeld, the Chairman of the Board of Yeshivat He'Atid, was published by The Jewish Week on Sept. 14, 2012. You can read it in its entirety here: http://www.thejewishweek.com/editorial-opinion/opinion/new-model-jewish-day-schools
Yeshivat He¹Atid, a new day school in Bergen County, NJ, is providing Jewish communities nationwide with a groundbreaking new model for high quality, affordable Jewish day school education. Opening with 115 students in our first year, Yeshivat He¹Atid is re-imagining the Jewish day school classroom of the 21st century.
We have hired a principal, teachers, and staff; ensured our facility is student-ready, and put in place the tools and curriculum to support our blended learning model. When fully built out, Yeshivat He¹Atid is estimated to save the Bergen County community $5 million annually. But our real goal is to serve as a model so that every Jewish community can build a school that is both affordable to most parents and delivers better educational outcomes.
How will we achieve this? While I admit that my purpose in starting a new school was to lower the high cost of yeshiva tuition, I learned over the past year that a blended learning educational model can deliver a higher quality education, one that will better prepare children for the realities they will face in an ever changing 21st century world. Blended learning is a revolutionary model that combines face-to-face instruction with online learning tools to optimize the learning environment for each student.
Blended learning empowers teachers our most valuable assets in educating our children with real-time data that will help them customize the learning approach to meet individual students¹ unique learning styles and academic needs.
Education in America is about to undergo revolutionary change. America also has a "tuition crisis." Property taxes cannot keep increasing at the rate they have during the past two decades. At the same time, educational outcomes have been stagnant for a generation. Bold educational leaders and innovators across this country have been building and operating completely different educational models for years now with proven and successful results. If we are serious about placing Jewish education on sustainable footing, we must boldly propose and quickly implement entirely new models of Jewish education.
Think about any consumer good with the possible exception of healthcare. We can purchase products today at a fraction of the price they cost a generation ago. Think about the TV you have in your home today that is so much better than the one you grew up with and costs far less. The same is true of education if only we are willing to embrace it.
As lay leaders, parents, and supporters of Jewish day schools, we have the responsibility to encourage our educators to move beyond their comfort zones. We need them to be more innovative and more efficient. We need to convince them that better education can be had at a significantly reduced cost and that their jobs depend on delivering on those metrics. The idea that the only way to improve educational outcomes is to spend more money is simply not true.
Schools like Rocketship, KIPP Empower, and others around this country have successfully implemented a blended learning model that achieves superior results at a significantly lower cost per student. The Jewish education field needs to learn from these models and become leaders in these revolutionary educational methods.
We at Yeshivat He¹Atid don¹t have all the answers. But we recognize that the status quo of spending more money on an unsustainable model is a ticking time bomb. We are thrilled that through the continued generosity of the Affordable Jewish Education (AJE) Project, two more schools in the tri-state area are in the planning stages for the 2013-14 school year using our school as a model. While we would love for many more schools to follow our lead, that may not be the right solution for every school or every community. We hope that our experience will motivate many other schools (existing and new) to experiment with innovative models.
We need to be bold and to encourage our educators to be bold. We have to allow them to experiment and, yes, sometimes fail but incremental change is no longer an option. We have to step out of our comfort zones and create
entirely new models of Jewish education that are both high quality and financially viable.
The Jewish people have solved far bigger problems in the past and I am confident that with the right leadership, we will solve this one too. But we won¹t do it by being timid. We need to embrace change now. We owe it to our children and we owe it to the future of the Jewish people.
Gershon Distenfeld is chairman of the board of Yeshivat He¹Atid and resides in Bergenfield, N.J.
Yeshivat He’Atid Opens in Bergen County with 116 Students, Paving the Way for a Crop of Jewish “Blended” Schools
Yeshivat He’Atid opened Sept. 4 with Pre-K, Kindergarten and 1st grade. The 21st Century educational model provides the Jewish community with affordable excellence – at a 40 percent cost savings to Jewish day school parents.
This September, Yeshivat He’Atid is providing Jewish communities nationwide with a groundbreaking new model for high quality, affordable Jewish day school education. The Blended Learning model combines traditional, face-to-face instruction with online learning to maximize meaningful teacher-student interaction and promote the use of data to enhance the quality of education. Opened Sept. 4 with 116 students in its first year, Yeshivat He’Atid is re-imagining the Jewish day school classroom of the 21st Century.
“We have hired a team of dedicated teachers, all of whom are passionate about the opportunity to be trained in this innovative educational model and be on the forefront of Jewish education,” said Rabbi Netanel Gralla, Head of School at Yeshivat He’Atid.
The school has renovated a school building on South Washington Avenue in Bergenfield, N.J., and put in place the tools and curriculum to support its blended learning model.
The blended learning model provides students with personalized instruction to create a more efficient classroom and reduce the need for resources outside the classroom. As a result, Yeshivat He’Atid will save the community an astonishing $600,000 this year alone. When fully built out, Yeshivat He’Atid is estimated to save the community $5 million annually.
The school’s impact transcends this community. Lay leaders and educators across the country are watching Yeshivat He’Atid’s progress with much enthusiasm. There are two local Yeshivat He’Atid-style Jewish schools (in the Five Towns and in Westchester) that are in the planning phases, as well as several others that are embracing blended learning in Los Angeles, Baltimore, and Boston.
“Yeshivat He’Atid’s goal has always been to see its model replicated in other Jewish communities,” said Gershon Distenfeld, one of the founding board members of Yeshivat He’Atid who recently spoke at a parlor meeting for Tiferet Academy, a school in planning stages in the Five Towns “We are in close contact with other lay leaders who are interested in bringing the Yeshivat He’Atid model to their communities.”
Yeshivat He’Atid’s efforts attracted the attention of the Affordable Jewish Education Project (AJE), a non-profit founded by a group of philanthropists whose mission is to help provide affordable, high-quality education for any Jewish family who seeks it. The AJE embraces the blended learning model as the paradigm for sustainable Jewish education, and works with Jewish schools across the country to adopt this model.
Jeff Kiderman, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the AJE, praised Yeshivat He’Atid’s leadership in the national movement for revamping Jewish education. “We are very excited by Yeshivat He’Atid’s role in spearheading the growing national movement for high-quality, affordable Jewish education. We will continue to work closely with Yeshivat He’Atid, along with other schools and communities, as we pursue the goal of enabling every Jewish family to afford a high-quality education.”
To date, Yeshivat He’Atid has raised more than $1.3 million to cover one-time start-up costs and scholarship needs. The Affordable Jewish Education Project and the AVI CHAI Foundation have been integral partners in Yeshivat He’Atid’s success, providing funding and critical support needed to hire blended learning experts to develop the school’s blended educational model. In addition, the Orthodox Union provided seed funding to develop blended learning Judaic studies curricula.
“AVI CHAI is pleased to support Yeshivat He’atid as one of a series of experiments with new schools as well as established schools to test the opportunity of using technology to deliver better education at a lower price,” said Eli Kannai, AVI CHAI's chief educational technology officer. “We hope that in the long run these pilots will positively impact the day school field at large."
For more information about Yeshivat He’Atid and its innovative educational model, please visit www.yeshivatheatid.org.
Yeshivat He'Atid opens its doors today with 116 students in preK-1st grade! You can feel the excitement just looking at these photos of the classroom set-up. Want to see more? Check out these photos on Facebook, courtesy of the Alvo Institute.
Yeshivat He'Atid, which opens with 116 students on Tuesday, has been in the Jewish news recently. In case you missed it. here are the most recent articles about Yeshivat He'Atid:
From the Jewish Week: (Aug. 21, 2012)
"The new school, the product of a grass-roots effort led by a group of Bergen County parents, is already inspiring several imitators, all of them Modern or Centrist Orthodox: Tiferet Academy on Long Island and New Roc Torah Academy in Westchester County both plan to open in fall 2013. Other schools with blended learning and low tuition opening this fall include Binah School in Sharon, Mass., and Yeshiva High-Tech in Los Angeles."
Read the entire Jewish Week article here:http://www.thejewishweek.com/special-sections/education-careers/new-developments-classroom-and-beyond
From The Jewish Standard (Aug. 31, 2012):
"The idea is to personalize the learning experience, to differentiate the learning,” Rabbi Netanel Gralla, the new school’s principal, said Rabbi Netanel Gralla“Students get to learn at a pace they’re comfortable with and be engaged throughout the day.”
Rather than basing the classroom on a teacher addressing all the students simultaneously, “kids will rotate throughout the day through a number of learning environments in the classroom,” Gralla said...While some students are using the computers, others will be working in small groups with a teacher, and the rest will be working independently.
The key aspect of the computer software, said Gralla, is that it will diagnose what the students do not understand. “Instead of using a pencil and a workbook, kids will be engaged in an engaging activity on the computer which is fun and animated,” Gralla said.
Meanwhile, “the computer is assessing how well they do it, which points they’re understanding and which they’re not understanding,” he said. “The computer is just a tool to empower the teacher to better understand the student’s strength and weakness,” he said.
“It’s going to empower me as a teacher,” Amanda Pransky said. She is the school’s first-grade teacher for English subjects. Pransky, who lives in Bergen County and taught first grade for three years at the Ramaz School in Manhattan, spent this week training with the Yeshivat He’Atid’s faculty and blended learning consultants.
“Because of the way we’re implementing the technology, the data about the student’s achievement and assessment will all be in one place,” she said.
Target will donate 1% of every purchase to Yeshivat He'Atid!
Here’s how it works: Visit Target.com/tcoe or call 1-800-316-6142 to designate our school, then use your REDcard whenever you shop. When you use your REDcard (Target Credit Card, Target Debit Card or Target Visa Credit Card), Target will donate up to 1% of your purchases to the eligible K–12 school of your choice. You can search for He'Atid using our zip code school ID# 152767.
Stay tuned --we're in the process of signing up Box Tops, Land's End and other fundraising programs.
On March 18, Yeshivat He'Atid hosted a fun meet-and-greet event for enrolled students and their families at Space Odyssey in Englewood, N.J. This PTA event gave families the opportunity to meet one another before school started. We want to thank Jenni Levy, PTA President, as well as a team of volunteers, for making the event a resounding success!
Enjoy the slideshow of photos from the event, featured below.
Yeshivat He'Atid is thrilled to announce that due to increased demand, we plan to open a third pre-K! Please let your friends and family know that there are still spots available. Interested families should contact Ora Kornbluth at email@example.com.
We are extremely pleased to welcome Ora Kornbluth to the Yeshivat He'Atid family. As Director of Business and Operations, she will be handling all of the day-to-day operations of the school. Ora brings to Yeshivat He'Atid nearly two decades of experience working in Jewish day schools. She worked for many years as the Director of Student Activities at Bat Torah Flatow Yeshiva High School in Paramus, N.J, where she had administrative responsibilities. She has also served as the COO of Sensation NY, a pediatric OT and sensory gym located on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. For several summers, she has worked as an Assistant Head Counselor for Camp Regesh. A sports lover at heart, Ora is an Official Statistician for CBS Sports and is part of the game day support staff for the National Football League. She currently serves as a Councilwoman representing the borough of Bergenfield, N.J. She holds a bachelor of arts in economics from Yeshiva University.
Yeshivat He’Atid is thrilled to announce that we have been selected a recipient of the Orthodox Union’s national “DAY SCHOOL AFFORDABILITY CHALLENGE GRANTS.” The goal of the $150,000 in collective challenge grants is to develop “innovative and replicable solutions to address day school affordability.” The grants were announced on Monday at the two-day “Summit on the Affordability of Jewish Education” arranged by the OU to stimulate discussion and planning on dealing with this critical issue in Orthodox life.
A brief description of our grant proposal: Yeshiva He’Atid 21st Century Judaic Studies Curricula Project, Bergenfield, NJ -- Yeshiva He’Atid is anticipated to open in the fall of 2012. The school‘s goal is to create a new model that incorporates 21st century educational methods to increase the quality of education while also reducing tuition costs. The OU grant will be targeted toward the creation of a blended learning Judaic curriculum for K-2nd grade, which we believe can be used by other day schools throughout North America.
Check out the other challenge grant recipients below or read the official press release here:
· Project Education Tuition Affordability Campaign, Project Education Council, Brooklyn, NY --The OU will fund program development and marketing for the campaign to change the culture of giving within the Sephardic community in Brooklyn, resulting in more dollars staying within the community for Jewish education. According to its grant application, Project Education is a “new non-profit corporation in the Sephardic community with a mission of finding solutions that will alleviate tuition education costs” in a “community that has more than 10,000 children enrolled in more than a dozen yeshivot in New York and New Jersey.”
· Corporate Citizenship, Denver Academy of Torah, Denver, CO -- The OU’s funds will be used to match a foundation grant for website development and graphic design of the Corporate Citizenship program which would allow businesses to give five percent to the Denver Academy of Torah (DAT) from business generated through the program. Unlike traditional scrip programs, this initiative uses other business, like mortgage bankers and real estate agents. According to the application, DAT “has secured relationships with 11 businesses thus far,” which include two supermarkets, two realtors, a jeweler, an accountant, a mortgage broker and an investment advisor, as well as an online clothing store, meat store and tricycle store.”
· Hillel Without Borders, The Samuel Scheck Hillel Community Day School, North Miami Beach, FL -- The OU will fund afterschool and adult education activities at the school. The goal of these programs is to bring community members into the school with the goal of eventually increasing community involvement with the school. According to the grant application, “Hillel Without Borders is a multi-phased initiative aimed at reenergizing the Jewish Education Support Circle of our community…by opening Hillel’s borders to the greater Jewish community of Miami Dade, allowing us to share and maximize the utilization of our valued resources (human, intellectual, physical and financial),” thus strengthening the local Jewish community.
· Edollars, Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh PA -- The OU will provide funding for enhancement of the Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh’s current “timebanx” program, which allows parents to volunteer at the school and receive monetized credits, in lieu of tuition for their volunteer commitment. The OU grant will be targeted to mutually agreeable enhancements to the system that can assist other schools interested in implementing the program. In its application, the Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh notes that “schools can save up to $250,000 in expenses per year in payroll areas such as the IT department, substitute teachers, lunch monitors, landscaping, building maintenance, administrative assistants, etc.” The program “has the direct dollar value of $50-$100 per hour. Parents earning that amount are receiving its exact value in exchange for tuition costs.”
· The National Jewish Cooperative Day School Project, The Jewish Cooperative School, Hollywood, FL -- The OU grant will fund production of an online “Jewish Cooperative Day School Handbook,” that will assist parents across the country to form and manage their own Jewish cooperative day school or for day schools which seek to increase parent participation within their schools. “A Cooperative Day School is one in which parents are required to bear the burdens of a school’s costs collectively and directly,” the grant application explains. “There is no more efficient way to reduce Day School tuition costs while maintaining high educational standards than to empower motivated parents.” This handbook will describe the experience of this school in creating and maintaining a cooperative structure.
· The Online Resource Room, Scranton Hebrew Day School, Scranton, PA -- The OU will provide funding for eight students in four day schools for six months to allow demonstration that providing distance learning for special needs youngsters can be successful and cost saving. The program began as a pilot project last year at the Scranton Hebrew Day School in which its resource room director “learned with six students across the country online in their homes as well as in school. In each live session,” the teacher “was able to replicate the quality and interactive techniques of my regular resource room… The Online Resource Room will literally reach out to every geographic area of the country irrespective of the size or location of the student’s community.” The OU’s Rabbi Isaacs, the grant program’s administrator, added, “We want to monitor the children to see if distance learning results in cost savings for the schools while meeting the needs of its students.”