GHA Recommended to SAIS-SACS for Re-Accreditation
GHA is on fire and it is noticeable.
Atlanta (March 3, 2011) –
In mid-February Greenfield Hebrew Academy got word that the school has been unanimously and enthusiastically recommended to SAIS-SACS for re-accreditation. During its three-day site visit, the accreditation educators praised the school's devotion to its students and its commitment to excellence in all areas academically.
As an independent school, Greenfield Hebrew Academy is part of a consortium of schools accredited by the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Every five years, GHA is required to renew its accreditation. Accreditation begins with a self-study, followed by a site visit by an outside group of educators, and yields a list of commendations and recommendations.
The accreditation team observed classes as well as interviewed parents, students, and board members.
When students were asked what aspects the school should retain 25 years from now, they said, "the fabulous teachers who love and care for us and the good friends that we make at school." Parents who were interviewed spoke of the warm sense of community that pervades the school. Both conveyed to the accreditation team how much they love the school and how GHA is their home away from home.
The Early Childhood Development's Reggio Program, headed by Director of ECD Anna Hartman, was cited for extra acclaim. This observation was particularly meaningful coming from Jill Muti, the accreditation team leader, because she is an experienced educator who has studied the Reggio method of teaching and learning. Researchers at Yale University have singled out the Reggio Emilia philosophy as best in class in early childhood education. Seeing its results at GHA, Principal Leah Summers has begun to expand some of the core Reggio values, for example project-based learning throughout all the grades of the school.
Another program that the team dubbed as "best in class" was GHA's M'silot Program headed by Phyllis Rosenthal. M'silot serves the needs of students with language-based learning challenges. Seventy students are enrolled in the M'silot program in grades K to 6; a seventh grade will be added in 2011. The accreditation team called attention to the close level of integration between M'silot and non-M'silot students and the high degree of collegiality among teachers in the two programs here at GHA.
The team praised the interactive nature of the Jewish Studies classes, the innovative teaching in the Middle School, the way technology is used throughout the school to enhance the learning experience and was used as a vehicle to win the Microsoft Bing $100,000 "school needs" competition, and the impact that Responsive Classroom and Development Design has had on creating a more inclusive school culture where all students feel a sense of belonging.
The accreditation team was impressed with our adult learning programs, citing the success of the Melton courses and Coffee and Covenant and the degree to which parents are interested in furthering their learning. They feel, as does GHA, that parents provide powerful models of lifelong learning to our students.
With applications double the number compared to this time last year, Greenfield Hebrew Academy has become known for its excellent academics in both General Studies and Jewish Studies, its strong emphasis on character building, and its commitment to serving the general community.
GHA Raises the Roof and wins $100,000!
It's an unfortunate truth that when it rains at GHA, we have either puddles or trash cans in the middle of our hallways. Our roof is old and leaky, and though we knew we'd have to repair it in the next year, we were going to have a hard time finding room in our budget for such a large expense. Indeed, it would cost us over $100,000!
So when we saw that Microsoft Bing was running a competition called Our School Needs, with a grand prize of $100,000, we decided to enter. There were several hundred schools competing against us, each with their own needs. Each school entering the competition was required to submit an essay, up to five photos, and optionally a video, describing our need and appealing to the community for support.
We assigned our talented music teacher, Ori Salzberg, the task of creating the entry video. We knew that with his background creating music videos for Bible Raps, he could make something good. He worked tirelessly with our students, first teaching them how to write good raps, then recording their singing, videoing them all around the school and even up on the roof, and putting it all together into a final production. The result was phenomenal, and we posted Raising the Roof to YouTube. At the time of writing, it has been viewed almost 10,000 times!
Once our entry was submitted, we then began to mobilize the community. Our teachers and students contacted their friends and family and garnered support. We voted, and voted, and voted some more. When we found out that we were one of only 30 schools to make it into the semifinals, our hearts skipped a beat. We knew that it was going to be a tough competition at this point.
When the 15 finalists were announced, the second round of voting opened. Our technology director Sue Loubser took the reigns and commandeered her staff and some very dedicated parents and friends of the school to assist in getting the word out, and helping people to vote. We appealed and voted and begged and voted and voted and voted some more.
When the voting ended, our final vote count was 24,264, a staggering 1700 more than the second placed school. On Tuesday evening, when the winners became official the community rejoiced to know that we had won .... One hundred thousand dollars.
The most amazing thing about this whole competition is not the fact that we won $100,000, although that is certainly wonderful. It is the incredible ruach that was generated in our school as a result of our coming together in the name of a greater cause. Students and faculty alike have been bubbling over with pride and excitement for our school, proving once again that GHA is the place to be.
Rabbi Buckman meets with Noam Shalit to deliver Rosh Hashana cards from our students.
Rambam writes that the highest level of tzedaka is the mitzvah of pidyon shevuyim (redeeming captives) because the captive is both poor and hungry and in danger of his life. At GHA, we are working on fulfilling the mitzvah of pidyon sheviyum, by campaigning for the release of Gilad Shalit. We are doing this in many ways, the first of which was to join the worldwide campaign to force the UN and the Red Cross to deliver hundreds of thousands of Rosh Hashana and birthday cards to Gilad, and hopefully to pressure them to work hard to achieve his freedom.
Rabbi Buckman took some of the cards created by our students and personally delivered them to Noam Shalit, the father of Gilad.
Gilad was born on August 28, 1986, in Nahariya, to Aviva and Noam Shalit. He graduated high school with distinction in 2004 and began his national military service in the Armored corps in July 2005, choosing to be a combat soldier in a tank battalion. Almost a year later, in June 2006, Palestinian terrorists captured Gilad from his tank, which was situated on Israel’s side of the border with Gaza. The terrorists infiltrated Israel through a tunnel under the border with the intention of capturing Israeli soldiers and holding them ransom. Two terrorists and two IDF soldiers were killed in the attack, and Gilad remains in captivity until today. Gilad is held by Hamas, the Islamist militant group in power in the Gaza Strip, who demands that in exchange for his release, the Israeli government release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, many of whom have been directly involved in terrorist attacks and the killing of Israelis.
In four years, over 1,500 days, Hamas has denied Gilad contact with his parents or family, the Israeli government, and the Red Cross. This is against the Geneva conventions and international humanitarian law. In all that time, Israel has only received three letters from Gilad, an audio recording and a short video. While there is tremendous controversy and debate in Israel about whether the government should negotiate with terrorists and release terrorists who may kill again, in exchange for Gilad, EVERYONE feels the pain of the Shalit family and prays for his return.
Our students will be engaging in numerous projects and activities through out the year to raise awareness about the plight of Gilad Shalit and to help to ensure his safe release.
Check out our Twitter updates which are regularly posted by the Early Childhood department. This helps us all keep connected through out the day as our children continue to learn and grow with their surroundings.