Learn­ing and Com­mu­ni­ty: Jew­ish Sup­ple­men­tary Schools in the Twen­ty-First Century

Jack Wertheimer, ed.
  • Review
By – September 9, 2011
There aren’t enough good sto­ries about after-school pro­grams, and this new vol­ume edit­ed by Jack Wertheimer of the Jew­ish The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary estab­lish­es high achieve­ment marks for every­one with an invest­ment in an after-school pro­gram of Jew­ish stud­ies, from edu­ca­tors to par­ents and stu­dents. Wertheimer and his coau­thors have iden­ti­fied ten com­mu­ni­ty­based and syn­a­gogue-based schools that demon­strate moral and aca­d­e­m­ic excel­lence. These suc­cess­ful schools wel­come many dif­fer­ent kinds of learn­ers and their edu­ca­tion­al lead­ers guide their teach­ers thought­ful­ly, ulti­mate­ly moti­vat­ing stu­dents to learn Hebrew, pray with authen­tic fer­vor, act as moral role mod­els, and dis­cov­er their his­to­ry. The schools rep­re­sent geo­graph­i­cal and ide­o­log­i­cal diver­si­ty; some tend to empha­size aca­d­e­m­ic learn­ing and mas­tery while oth­ers tend to empha­size expe­ri­en­tial learn­ing, moral action, per­son­al dis­cov­ery, com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice, and fam­i­ly cel­e­bra­tions. What is the recipe for suc­cess? Match the pro­fes­sion­al staff to the mis­sion and vision of the school; build sev­en-day par­ent and com­mu­ni­ty sup­port beyond drop-off and pick-up in the car­pool line; don’t be afraid to accept that the school can­not meet everyone’s needs; and sus­tain stu­dent inter­est by estab­lish­ing mea­sur­able goals that stu­dents can achieve at every lev­el; iden­ti­fy mile­stones of suc­cess and pro­mote a sense of respon­si­bil­i­ty for stu­dents’ own learn­ing. This book is a must-read for after-school pro­gram edu­ca­tors, par­ents, and board mem­bers. The wealth of ideas can trans­form any pro­gram. Index, notes.
Judd Kruger Lev­ingston, Ph.D. and rab­bi, serves as Direc­tor of Jew­ish Stud­ies at Jack M. Bar­rack Hebrew Acad­e­my in the Philadel­phia area. Lev­ingston is the author of Sow­ing the Seeds of Char­ac­ter: The Moral Edu­ca­tion of Ado­les­cents in Pub­lic and Pri­vate Schools (Praeger, 2009).

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