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.
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.
In this week's Jewish Week, Julie Wiener interviews Gershon Distenfeld about Yeshivat He'Atid. Excerpts are below; the entire article can be read here.
"This spring a group of Teaneck parents began planning Yeshivat He’Atid (The Yeshiva of the Future), a school that will use “blended” (a mix of face-to-face and computerized) learning — and which aims to open in 2012 with tuition between $8,500-$9,000, approximately 40 percent less than the going rate for Jewish elementary schools.
Gershon Distenfeld, an investment manager and father of three who is leading the effort, met with The Jewish Week in his Midtown office to discuss He’Atid, which has already raised over $250,000, much of it in donations from more than 50 families interested in enrolling their children.Q: You’ve been involved with area day schools for some time, serving on the board of the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey, as treasurer of JEFG and chair of NNJKIDS. What spurred you to start Yeshivat He’Atid?
A: NNJKIDS has been important, because it’s sending the message that it should be the whole community, not just the parents, paying for Jewish education. ... Through NNJKIDS, I had focused on the revenue side. I began to realize that alone was not enough to solve the problem, and I became more interested in the cost side. I still support the work of JFEG and NNJKIDS, but I wanted to get involved with something that has the potential for great impact, something that can be a model for communities around the country.How is this effort different from the failed attempt a few years ago to start a low-cost yeshiva?
We’re describing this as “affordable” and not “low-cost.” The attempt a few years ago failed for a number of reasons, in part because it was marketed as “low-cost,” which made it sound like the education wouldn’t be as good. The more I started researching this and looking into what cutting-edge people said, I realized that by using blended learning, you don’t just reduce the cost but can actually increase the quality.What exactly do you mean by “blended learning?”
This is a model where each kid can progress at his or her own pace. There are many different ways that you can implement blended learning. One example is that students do a preliminary lesson [on the computer] before they come to class, so the teacher already knows where they are. The teacher has access to a dashboard that indicates which students are having issues so the teacher can adapt the lesson for each child ... the idea is not to use computers to replace the teacher, but to make the teacher more efficient.Why not just implement these changes at an existing school?
Overall I would say that not all teachers can be trained to do this right, and it’s easier to implement this kind of change in a new school.I understand that in addition to the blended learning, you plan to hire fewer administrators, relying instead on master teachers supervising newer teachers. How else do you plan to reduce costs?
We’ll be running full classes. Class size will be between 20-25, and we’ll wait-list kids until there are enough for a second class. We will have smaller scholarship needs, because our tuition will be lower — we’re not going to build scholarships into tuition, but are going to cover scholarships with fundraising. [In many schools, revenue from full-paying families subsidizes the cost of scholarships.]Will competition from He’Atid hurt existing schools?
We don’t view ourselves as competing but as providing a different model for education at a lower price point for those who are interested.
To what extent was the momentum for He’Atid spurred by the potential arrival of a Hebrew charter school in Englewood?
This would have happened anyway. But community leaders may be more likely to support this because they saw day school families registering for Shalom Academy.Will you be sending your own children to He’Atid?
My two oldest daughters are already past the age that He’Atid will be serving … At the same time, my wife and I are really excited that our youngest daughter (who is entering nursery school) will be able to attend Yeshivat He’Atid.
Deena Yellin writes in this week's edition of The Jewish Standard about the excitement surrounding Yeshivat He'Atid. Read the entire article here.
"Yeshivat He’Atid is not scheduled to open its doors until September 2012, yet area parents are already clamoring to get their children into the new Orthodox day school. Some have begged to sign their children up a year early, while others asked if their applications could be given preferential treatment if accompanied by a donation. School organizers, however, have been telling everyone the same thing: “Registration is on a first come, first serve basis,” said Keren Fisher, a member of the founding board of the new school.
A committee is scouring the Teaneck area for a building to accommodate the elementary school that is planned to open with pre-k, kindergarten and first grade classes. Additional grades — up to eighth grade — are expected to be gradually added each year thereafter, said school organizers.
Even without a building in place, however, Yeshivat He’Atid, which means school of the future, has already garnered enthusiasm from various quarters: Four parlor meetings held over the summer drew standing-room-only crowds; the school so far raised $250,000 in donations from potential parents, as well as private donors; and Yeshiva University is aiding in the search for a qualified principal.
Ian Fields, a local parent who attended one of the recent parlor meetings, said he was impressed by what he heard about the modern curriculum and about the school’s relatively low price tag.
The educational model employed by the day schools in Bergen County is not economically sustainable for the majority of families, Fields said. “In order for the average family to just make ends meet, they need to be making over $200,000. Most of the households in America are not making that kind of money,” said Fields, an attorney. “The time has long since passed for there to be an alternative to the $15-17,000 it costs to send a child to a Jewish day school.”
“We have a sophisticated financial model,” the founders said in an e-mail, “that indicates that tuition will likely be in the $8,000 to $9,000 range, based on inputs including salaries, building rental, insurance, etc. A LOT of work has gone into that!
“As for scholarships, like the other schools, we will raise outside funds to provide scholarships for families that have experienced a job loss or other such circumstance.”
Yeshivat He’Atid’s projected tuition represents a nearly 40 percent cut over other area day schools. It is a big reason why the new elementary school is generating such excitement while still essentially in the planning stage.
The projected lower tuition is also the reason for the school coming into being. The idea for it arose out of frustration generally with rising costs of yeshivas and day schools, exacerbated by turbulent economic times, said the founders of Yeshivat He’Atid, six young parents from Teaneck and Bergenfield.
“People are either leaving the day school system or suffering tremendously to pay for it,” said Gershon Distenfeld, a founder of the school, who also helped create NNJKIDS and is a board member of the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey.
But while much of the impetus for the school’s creation was about eliminating administrative overhead and cutting tuition costs, organizers assert that the quality of education the school will offer — Judaic and secular — will be superior.
The school will provide an innovative approach to learning that combines the benefits of face-to-face learning with interactive technology, say its founders. This method is likely to benefit a broader range of students than the more existing educational model, said Distenfeld.
“Every student learns differently,” he said. This program engages students and is more stimulating than listening to a lecture, Distenfeld said. Noting that today’s children are comfortable on computers and using e-mail and iPads, he added, “They are more progressive technologically than we were. It’s natural for them to use technology. It’s not natural for them to just sit in a classroom and listen to a teacher talk. This will result in a better education that will prepare them for the world they are living in.”
The blended learning model allows teachers to monitor students’ progress in real time. A dashboard function provides instant data that allows the teacher to intervene when students encounter difficulty or get stuck on a concept, said Fisher.
When the teacher comes to class, he or she will be better prepared to address the students’ needs by focusing in on the areas of weakness, said Fisher, who like several of the other members of the founding board spent months researching this model of education. “This is a much more efficient model of learning.”
The ultimate goal of the founders is not just to create a great school for Bergen County, but to establish an institution that can serve as a model for day schools across the country, Distenfeld said.
“I wish I could have gone to this school as a kid,” he said.