The Matthew Blumenthal M’silot Program
- Parent Category: Academics
- Published on Monday, 21 June 2010 03:22
Individual Methods, Common Goals
Students who qualify for the Matthew Blumenthal M’silot Program (M'silot) learn in small classes with a teacher-student ratio of 1 to 5. The program includes general and Judaic studies, emphasizing remedial strategies to help children compensate for their learning differences. At various times during the day, such as lunch, recess and physical education, M’silot students are integrated with their Atlanta Jewish Academy peers.
Children Served by The Matthew Blumenthal M’silot Program
The child who is an appropriate student for M’silot has been diagnosed with a mild to moderate learning disability based on an evaluation conducted by a licensed psychologist. The child has average to above-average intelligence, and is not reaching his/her potential. As a result of processing deficits and uneven learning profiles, where there are strengths and weaknesses, the following may be exhibited:
- reading disability
- difficulty understanding and/or using spoken language
- written language disorders
- mathematical disorders
A child with learning differences and ADD/ADHD may be a candidate for M’silot. M’silot is not designed to meet the needs of children with more severe learning disabilities or children with mental impairments, multiple handicaps, or behavioral/emotional disorders.
Parent communication is vital to the success of the students in M’silot. Communication includes frequent parent/teacher conferences, e-mail, IEPs [Individual Educational Plans] and other written reports. Student progress is assessed formally and informally and shared with parents throughout the year.
All Kinds of Minds
A key to the M’silot students’ success is that they ”learn how they learn” and can advocate for themselves. The “All Kinds of Minds” curriculum teaches students self-reflection methods to understand their strengths and strategies to help them achieve their goals. It is modeled after a program developed by Dr. Mel Levine, a professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina Medical School. Throughout the year, students demonstrate the self-knowledge they have gained, culminating in parent/teacher conferences where the students accompany their parents and share what they have learned about themselves.
Speech and Occupational Therapy
Speech and language therapy is offered as part of the M’silot program. The therapist provides language remediation to small groups of children and also integrates language therapy in the classroom to ensure that there is carryover. Speech/Language therapy is included in the tuition unless the student needs additional one-on-one intensive articulation and/or language remediation. At that time, arrangements need to be made between the therapist and the parents. Occupational therapy is also on the premises. If it is determined that your child needs occupational therapy, which is offered at additional cost, we have a sensory gym filled with state-of-the-art OT/sensory integration equipment. Both speech/language and occupational therapists serve as consultants to the teachers throughout the day.
Hebrew and Judaic Studies
M’silot educators evaluate each child after they enroll in M’silot to determine when the introduction of a second language would be appropriate and to what degree (i.e., oral vocabulary enrichment, reading and writing of Hebrew). Judaic Studies is a part of the curriculum in the form of celebrations, cultural exposure, and participation in prayers.
Every child at Atlanta Jewish Academy is headed in the same direction; some just take a different path. This is why we created M’silot (pathways in Hebrew), where a child’s individual learning profile determines his/her instruction. Our mission is to provide children who learn differently with an environment to become empowered learners who develop both a positive self-image and skills to maximize their potential. M’silot was made possible by the generosity of Saul and Adele Blumenthal, z"l, and Dr. Jerome and Elaine Blumenthal in memory of their grandson and son, Matthew. Matthew was a student at Greenfield Hebrew Academy, a component school of the Atlanta Jewish Academy, from first grade until graduation. The program was renamed The Matthew Blumenthal M'silot Program in 2011.
Many of our students who entered M’silot in first grade were given a boost through the Running Start Kindergarten, which is designed for children who thrive in a multi-sensory, small, structured curriculum. M’silot is available from 1st through 8th grades. Progress is continually monitored to help determine the best placement for each child for the following year, which could include transitioning into the general AJA curriculum.
Taking the Right Steps
If you think your child is a candidate for M’silot, please complete an application packet, which includes an application and a teacher evaluation form. We will also need results of a full psychoeducational battery given by a licensed psychologist.
Phyllis Rosenthal, Director of The Matthew Blumenthal M’silot Program
Phyllis has been the M’silot Director for the past 10 years, since its inception, and has been with Atlanta Jewish Academy for 14 years. Previously, she had been a learning specialist in the Resource Room. She holds a B.S. in Elementary Education and a M. Ed. in Special Education-Learning Disabilities and Remedial Reading. She has been involved in the field of learning disabilities since 1975. She taught developmental reading courses on the community college level in Austin, Texas, and Atlanta, Georgia.
Phyllis has published several articles in local and national publications, such as C.A.J.E. (Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education) and the RAVSAK newsletter, which focused on Special Education in Jewish community day schools. Her public speaking has taken her across the country and has been very well received. She has presented at various conferences including the International Learning Disabilities Association, the International Dyslexia Association, and the RAVSAK Annual Leadership Conference.