This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Jewish Academy of Arts & Sciences4
Posted October 17, 2013
- a teacher
One of the things that has made a strong impression on me since I joined the staff of the Jewish Academy is how well the teachers and families work together. The Jewish Academy teachers are not only highly skilled as educators, but they are also passionately committed to nurturing and bringing out the best in their students. They care about each child as an individual, and it's truly extraordinary to witness their work. The families who send their children here are giving them a solid foundation for their future. The school has initiated a number of programs this year, not the least of which are new after school program that is affordable, fun, and enriching; a more robust Jewish Studies & Hebrew curriculum; and the addition of a part-time school counselor. Though I'm not Jewish myself (and, thanks to a new open admissions policy, families looking for an outstanding private education grounded in timeless values aren't required to be), I've enjoyed learning about Judaism, and it's sparking a renewed interest in my own spiritual practice. Having come from roles in both corporate and non-profit organizations, I can honestly say that it is an honor to be part of this team.
I am very pleased with new school administration. The attentive attitude has enabled the adoption of policies that provide parents greater flexibility. The school day is now 8:00 (previously 8:15) to 3:30-more learning while spending less on before care! The aftercare program is now located at the school (not JCC).It is staffed by a teacher/instructor who assists with homework or other activities, such as yoga, while maintaining discipline among the children. With the exception of High Holidays, holidays are observed AT THE SCHOOL, though attendance is not mandatory. Parents are encouraged to join as the kids either take a bus to a synagogue, or observe at the school with a rabbi. But if the parents schedule doesn t permit it, students can be picked up and dropped off at the regular times on most Jewish Holidays. Also, the Math Matters and Scientifically Speaking camps from 12/23/13 to 1/3/14 are a welcome option. The implementation of these and other positive changes speaks to the conscientiousness and dedication of the staff. As a result, I now have greater confidence and faith in the leadership s ability to successfully navigate the challenges it faces now, and in the future.
I am the parent of a recent graduate and a current student at the former Solomon Schechter Day School, currently the Jewish Academy of Arts and Sciences, and after reading some of the reviews, negative and positive, I feel the need to comment. The former administration may have had an "open door policy", but the reality is that for the last 3-4 years of its tenure the leadership was ineffective and lazy. Sure, you could go in and talk with the administration but nothing would change. My children felt as though the former head of school didn't even really like children :( I realize that now parents don't have a code to open the door, but once inside the administration is open and welcoming. Try going to any other school, public or private, and just walking in - schools are protecting the kids these days as a matter of routine.There have been growing pains but I would say that the majority of the changes have been for the better. AND my child who is a sixth grader this year was WELL prepared for middle school and is thriving. Naysayers, examine what your real motives are for writing such negative things about the school. The teachers are dedicated & TRULY care for the students.
I have had children at the once SSDS and now at the new JAAS for a combined 9 years now. I can attest that I have seen this school at its best, at its not-so-best, and now- at its climbing back up to its peak again.. My kids absolutely love it here. They always have. They feel loved, nurtured and important. They wake up everyday eager to go. The curriculum this year is very solid. They are coming home eager to show off what they have learned. I would also like to say that as a parent who has done her best to be involved in most of the transitions JAAS has made, I was always shocked (yes- shocked!) at how little parent involvement there was. I attended most, if not all of the meetings held. I noticed that so many parents who were quick to gripe, bark and rant, where seldom, if at all present for these vital gatherings. It does take a village to raise our children to thrive and be prosperous, ethical and contributing human beings. It also however, is that village (of parents, teachers, staff, etc..) who must also be held accountable and be an actively present entity in our children's triumphs.. 'Change nothing, and nothing will ever change..' I remain true to this great school....
Ever cautious, I too faltered about a year ago when the Jewish Academy went through its adolescence. Families seemed to disappear with alarming frequency, leaving only confusion and desperation in their wake. This time wasn't exactly what I'd call a bright spot in the school's history, but it was a necessary one. As a family, we decided to stay at the school, not due to any kind of allegiance either; rather, changing schools seemed too much money and too much work at the time. Rarely am I ever grateful for my laziness, but in this instance, it really paid off. Our decision (born from laziness) turned out to be one of the best we'd ever made. Currently, I have two children enrolled at the Jewish Academy and I believe my kids offer a more concise litmus test than any exam or rating ever could. They love it. My children and many other children thrive there. I like that kindness and curiosity are encouraged. I find the leadership to be inspiring and enthusiastic. The school is now seventeen years old and like most seventeen year olds, it's on the cusp of maturity--on the brink of extraordinary. I'm excited to see where the Jewish Academy is headed and proud to be part of its legacy.
I hold deep respect (kavod) for the families who chose to leave our school during our transition. I miss them and their children equally deeply. Change is seldom simple or without repercussions. However, the returning staff, families and children are thriving this year in a school that feels healthy and strong in ways that I haven't observed or experienced in much too long. Thank you to those families who stood by us into this year! The professional environment this year is supportive, engaging and dynamic. Not a day goes by that I do not feel whole and inspired again in my position at this school. Thank you to my passionate, driven colleagues and our forward-thinking leadership for this! The fact that we welcomed 18 new students and their families into our classes and community this year demonstrates commitment to our mission, determination to be a values-based organization, and shared belief in the power of continued growth as individuals, professionals, and as a community. My optimism regarding what this school has the potential to become has never faltered. I am honored to be among those discovering its new identity, and experiencing its renewed vitality and ruach (spirit).
I'm going to give this school five stars for starting over fresh this year. Our family has been at this school for quite some time. We have seen families come and go over the years. There are times when we have been very unhappy with the education, and sometimes pleasantly surprised beyond expectation. Because this school is so small, change can feel very abrupt. At first I felt that way last year because I was used to the way things were handled. However, this year I see many positive changes. My child is happy. I have no problems discussing issues with the staff, and have found the new teachers to be very open to suggestions and sharing helpful information about my child. Also, the addition of a counselor is a big step in dealing with interrelational skills of students and also with the teachers. And finally, as requested by many parents, liasons between the rest of the Jewish community are being made, and I am VERY excited about that! There is only one school like this in Albuquerque. I would love to see the positive changes made this year help draw more students and family to the school.
We have one graduate (who attends a secular private school in Abq) and one current student enrolled. As they say, change can hard --for some more than others. The school, like all institutions, needed a change. That is just the nature of things: change is not always good or bad; but it is often necessary. And that --necessity-- was a reality facing this wonderful school. We are extremely pleased with the direction the school has taken through its administration, faculty and staff. They are all extremely responsive, respectful and professional. Our child continues to do very well there. The academic standards are high and there are excellent opportunities related to art as well PE. Plus, where else in NM will your child live Jewish values in school and have an opportunity everyday to live and feel fully embraced and validated as a Jew? Mind you, this is coming from the perspective of a fairly "secular" Jew. Overall , we are very happy with the JAA&S and strongly recommend it to any and all parents who want the best for their children. We are glad to continue to support this gem of a school!
The Jewish Academy of Arts and Sciences is an amazing school! This is the 3rd year my child has attended, and over the course of this time the school has gone through significant changes. The board, staff and new leadership handled the challenges of change incredibly well, responding to parent concerns, community concerns and most importantly, student needs. This has created a wonderful environment within which the children (and staff) are visibly thriving. The positive energy is palpable in the school. It's certainly the best year yet that we have had at the school, and I can see that it is only getting better with time and with the passionate, unified approach of the staff, board and head of school. Very exciting to have my child and the rest of the children be this beneficiaries of the forward thinking and dynamic community.
I am neither a parent of a student, nor a member of its faculty or board. I do, however, have experience with this school spanning nearly a decade. While there were unhappy parents who chose to leave the school over the course of the last couple of years, there are also many families who remained committed to the vision and potential of the school, and chose to stand strong with the school and its community through its recent transitions. During a recent visit to the school, I was struck by a calm I haven't observed in several years, the cleanliness of the school environment, and a refreshed feeling of joy pervading the atmosphere. There is evidence of a redeveloped and cohesive school, from the improved quality of student work on display, to the posts on the school's Facebook page, to the structured aftercare program, and beyond. The school has several new staff members this year, including a mental health professional contracted to support the children, their families, and the staff in caring for the whole child, not just delivering academics. While I would not have in recent years, at this point in time, I would confidently recommend this school, whether you are Jewish or not!