This is the letter I just sent to the administration at Temple Beth Hillel after they rejected Calvin from their school. If you know any members of this Temple, I hope you let them know how they're being represented --
Just to make sure everyone knows the full story, Audrey and I are parents to a beautiful five year old boy named, Calvin. He has a rare genetic disorder called Pitt Hopkins. Calvin can't walk or talk (yet). So our hope in sending him to your school was mostly social, so that he could make friends, be a part of a community. Much as he'd done last year at Temple Isaiah where was warmly accepted by the entire congregation.
He would've been sent to school with a full time, one on one aide. So I'm not sure how, as the head of your school explained to my wife, "he couldn't be properly served" by your school -- which purports to be inclusive. In fact, SHE NEVER EVEN TOOK THE TIME TO MEET HIM before rendering her decision. A fact that I find mind-boggling.
Here's the truth -- Audrey and I are used to schools saying no... it's too hard, too much work. It's always tough for us to hear. But we're used to it. To seeing our son overlooked, passed over. What really burns me about this situation was one, that your admins kept us dangling for weeks. Mostly because of the extraordinary hoops that my wife and I were forced to jump thru. Getting records, paperwork signed, tracking down old therapists, etc. Believe me when I tell you we both have our hands full. So seeing this extra time and effort just completely wasted -- well, that's just adding insult to injury.
Look, you don't have to take my son. It's your loss for not having him as part of your community. And it's a loss for your children. However, if they treat special needs families with anything close to the sensitivity of your administration, I have to say, I am very glad that we won't be joining your temple after all.
Sadly, the preschool is a bit of a mess. While some teachers are very kind, most are flustered and cannot handle the class sizes. On more than one occasion, they have left a child outside or a child has been injured. While mistakes happen, this school takes it to a new level. I would recommend almost any preschool in the area, over this one.
I have three children and have been around the block as far as school experience goes. After five years at Temple Beth Hillel, I can candidly say that it is hands down the BEST school that ever existed! Teacher to student ratio is unbeatable, and every teacher (every year) has been heaven-sent! They have all been exceptionally patient, caring, experienced, open minded, up to date, and wise. They teach by focusing on the positives of each child, and make each kid feel special, smart, able, and confident. Their interaction with the parents is also very positive, which fosters a happier, healthier educational environment. If there's ever a phone call, chances are that it's to give kudos to your child's positive behavior and accomplishment (yes, even the difficult kids have good days that need acknowledgement!) They tailor each subject to the strength of the child, so every kid is challenged to their maximum potential without being overwhelmed. The kids feel understood, heard, and valuable. My child genuinely feels like he is a real scientist, a mathematician, a musician, a creative author, and an inventor. While it's a small school with a solid and friendly community environment, they make sure they stay on the forefront of STEM education. And whenever you stop in, the front desk secretary (Sohaila) and other staff always make you feel like home with their warm and friendly greeting. I just can't speak highly enough about everyone at Temple Beth Hillel. Your child will be in the best hands!
We love Beth Hillel Day School ... there is such a strong sense of community and family at this school. The classes are relatively small, engaging, and inspiring to our daughter. We recommend it to anyone in the Sherman Oaks area.
Imagine a school where everyone knows each other by name. A school where everyone treats you like family and the kindergarteners mingle with the 6th graders in such a loving way. That is what you get at Beth Hillel Day School. A tight knit community that nurtures your child to be the best he/she can be. When my child started here she was this very timid creature and now she has blossomed into this brave and inquisitive girl that is not afraid to raise her hand in class and explore the world. This school fosters kindness to others and teaches you to be a good person and do mitzvahs every day. The teachers are all so caring and amazingly sweet. It is such a great little community here.
I have had three of my four kids attend from ECE through sixth grade, We picked this school for the Jewish education it offered and found out that the Day school is incredible, small class sizes were perfect for my kids all who have various forms of learning difficulties from ADHD and ADD to Aspergers syndrome, BHDS was inclusive and offered a community that, after 14 years feels like a second home.The teachers are award winning and take each child's individual needs into account. Its the best gift I ever gave my children!
My child started this year in the TK program and I am overwhelmed with the pride she takes in herself and her work. She stands tall when she talks about the friends she has made and the work she has produced. She interacts with students from all grade levels which is an empowering experience that gives her the confidence to approach others when she wants to share a story or ask for help. I love that students from all grade levels know each other’s names; say hello, give a high-five or words of encouragement without being prompted by an adult. Being in a small community is what fosters these inter-grade level relationships and makes our school so special.
Beth Hillel Day School has been life changing for our family. Four years ago, when we enrolled our daughter in TK, the first thing that we immediately felt was the warmth of each administrator, teacher, family, and student. She is now in second grade and our younger son is now in TK! The nurturing atmosphere, combined with the quality education, STEAM integrated learning, Jewish values, and Judaic curriculum make BHDS a place where our children can not only grow, but also thrive. The staff truly cares about every child's success, go out of their way to meet individual learning needs, and see parents as partners in every student's educational journey. I can not imagine where our kids would be, had we not found our way to Beth Hillel Day School. It is our community, it is our family, and it is our second home.
We are a new family to Beth Hillel Day School this year, and we are having a wonderful experience. The teachers and staff are amazing, and it is such a warm, caring environment where everybody knows and helps each other. The school teaches the students to be "bucket-fillers," which has such a profound impact on how all the students relate to one another with kindness. The education is also top notch. They truly take an interest in every student and have the knowledge, talent and passion to to make each student's experience a successful one.
My older son is a proud graduate of Beth Hillel Day School. When we started looking at middle schools, it became clear that thanks to the outstanding academic foundation he got at BHDS, every middle school program wanted him, even the most competitive merit-based programs. The transition to middle school was super-easy: going from classroom to classroom for art or music, taking notes, essays, advanced math, hands-on science projects - "mama, I did all this stuff in elementary school, I got this!" When it came time for our younger son to attend elementary school, we knew there was no better choice for us than BHDS. Small class sizes, Singapore math, project-based social studies and science, integrated art and music, and teachers who really get to know your whole child and show how much they care each and every day. Plus, I am really concerned about my kids learning a foreign language, and all the research shows they need to start learning at a young age to open the brain up to learning languages even later in life. My kids actually speak and write Hebrew thanks to BHDS, and when my older son started taking Spanish in middle school, he realized how much easier it was to learn a second foreign language when you've already learned one since kindergarten.