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!
Having taught for many years in both public and small private schools, I have seen my fair share of principals/heads of school and of other teachers. Since I started working at The Jewish Academy of Arts and Science this year, I have been impressed with the passion, dedication to excellence and "chesed" that I see from the professionals at this school. I regularly see teachers staying two hours after dismissal to prepare for the next days and weeks. I witness the concern for each student's personal and academic growth from each teacher. There are no slackers on this staff--only caring, professionals. Furthermore, the head of school makes it clear every day that our chief priority is creating a climate that is calm, respectful, and that meets each student's academic needs. We do this in a framework of Jewish values, which are emphasized each day. Finally, let me say that having worked in a number of schools, including Jewish schools, I have never seen an atmosphere that is so much like family-"heimish"-where students accept others including those who are quirky.
Like other 14 parents, I removed my child from the school at the end of the last school year (2012-2013). The academic level was totally insufficient, the quality of the teachers was low, and management and the board of trustees were ineffective. Many six graders parents realized after the fact that their children were not prepared for middle school, and had many deficiencies in math, language arts, computer skills and more. The very small number of kids in the classrooms actually worked against the child in many social interactions. Kids could not alternate friends, and felt isolated and unhappy. The school had a change in management at the beginning of 2012, and rapid changes created chaos, instability, and unpredictability. There was no after school homework club, no well-organized nor effective computer lab and overall no justification for the $13,000 annual tuition. Many special Ed children or children that their parents could not pay a full tuition are being enrolled to the school. Many parents who pay full tuition actually sponsor other children while their own kids get very little across-the-board. Check very carefully by talking to PARENTS prior to enrollment.
Though the school has recently changed their name from SSDS to the Jewish Academy of Arts and Sciences, the complaint is the same. The new administration, 2012-2013, leaves much to be desired. The headmaster does not embody the previous morals or open door policy that has always been a part of the school. The excessive structure and intolerance related to child differences and special needs is apalling. The attitude is disheartening and militant. Concerns and suggestions are not welcome. It is sad that the administration and board have changed the focus from a welcoming Jewish community to an intolerant establishment. The board should be ashamed of themselves for blindly allowing such a disinigration of something that was meaningful. Our child won't be back.
Very unhappy with the school at the moment. Although one would expect some degree of settling in with a new administration, there are a lot of things falling through the cracks. In the past, notifications were timely and organized, issues addressed immediately and the school felt welcoming. I don't feel this is the case now. Bullying situations are not handled in an appropriate manner. Often, the school does not seem aware of things that happen, especially on the playground. Incredibly disappointed about this, as we are paying a good deal of money for a school my child no longer wishes to attend.
Our grandchild has been at SSDS since 2010. We have always had a high regard for the former headmaster and faculty. This has changed since the administration changes in 2012. The environment is now stiff and unfriendly. The structure is excessive and lacks the former music/art/Hebrew instruction that is well paid for by the parents. Prior to this year, our family always felt comfortable with the "open door policy. This is no longer the case.
SSDS was an incredible environment prior to the take over of the new administration in 2012. Since that time, the core values and general moral character of the school has changed dramtically.
I have had the expereince of sending my children to another top-rated private school here in Albuquerque, and it just cannot compare to Solomon Schechter. This school truly meets the individual needs of the child and it is not just "lip service." This school has an academic focus, strong values, and an incredible sense of community. My children are challenged and truly cared about as people.
I love this school. The staff is very welcoming and inclusive. Parents and children become a part of the family.
I love the community aspect of Solomon Schechter along with the high level of academics. Because of the Jewish Studies taught, children are taught to respect each other. Cliques are actively discouraged, as is teasing, and the other social challenges kids face in school. The 5th graders can be seen helping the Kindergarteners carry their hot lunches. It is a safe atmosphere where bullying is non-existant and kids can focus on learning rather than the pecking order of the playground.
SSDS - Albuquerque is dedicated to nurturing my children's academic, emotional, and social needs. They have a strong ethics program and very rich art, music, dance, and PE. Also wonderful opportunities for after school enrichment. Many children leave there performing well above 5th grade.
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