By Mrs. Sandi Swerdloff, SSLI Lower School Principal


Friday, October 20, 2017

October 20, 2017
By Sandi Swerdloff, Lower School Principal

Dear Schechter Families,

I hope you enjoyed all the chaggim that took place over the past month. I am so pleased to report that this year with the help of our Judaic Studies Coordinator, Mrs. Stern, we worked together to ensure that our students experienced the holidays in every sense of the word. From the Parents Association bringing in the Shofar Maker program to doing Tashlich, eating in the sukkah and participating in our full school minyanim during Chol HaMoed, we were thrilled to see the engagement and enjoyment in all our students, grades K-5. 

Veteran's Day is just around the corner and I hope everyone received the attached flyer. This year we are

               Click for full size flyer

inviting all veterans of the US Military to join us for a special project on Friday, November 10. The veteran's will be honored during Kabbalat Shabbat and then they will be interviewed by the students in grades 3-5. During the interview process, photographs of the veterans will be taken and during art class the students will paint portraits of the veterans they interviewed. If you know the names of any veterans who are able to attend this event, please contact Cathy Main. 

Now that we are back to full weeks of school I wanted to tell you about some programs that started this week. The Gruss Lab began this week for all grades. Children visit the lab twice in a six-day cycle for 40 minutes. They go once in General Studies and once in Judaic Studies. Each time they go to the lab they work on math and reading at their own individual pace on their own level. Right now, all students are in the diagnostic stage where the program assesses where they are to begin. Once this stage is completed they will begin to practice math and reading at their level. When the students come into the Gruss Lab they alternate starting with either math or reading depending where they started the previous time they were in the lab. All students have their own usernames and passwords and wear headsets while they are working to keep out noise distractions. As mentioned before, they work at their own pace and as they succeed in answering questions accurately, their level rises according to their ability and performance. Monthly progress reports are printed for classroom teachers to evaluate where additional help may be needed or where enrichment may deem necessary. These reports are available for parents to review at any time.

At Schechter Long Island we know that teaching and learning does not fall into the "one size fits all" concept. Every student is an individual and we try in every way to meet and address the needs of all students. As much as the teachers try to differentiate their everyday teaching, there are still times students need either individual support or individual enrichment. To meet these needs, we are fortunate to have a staff of excellent teachers to run the following programs:     

Math Enrichment:This week, Mrs. Seidman began her Math Enrichment program. The math enrichment program is designed to hone students' mathematical problem solving and logical reasoning skills and encourage "out of the box" thinking. The problem strategies that will be covered are make a diagram, draw a picture, make an organized list, find a pattern, work backwards, guess and check and solve a simpler problem. Topics to be covered include numbers and operations, geometry and measurement, probability and statistics, data and analysis and algebraic thinking.

Math Support: Ms. Gosset will be providing math support in grades 1-5 throughout the year. She will be working individually and in small groups within the classroom during math time to provide help with the current math concepts.  Additionally, she will be working one-on-one and in small groups providing extra targeted support to students who will benefit from general or topic-specific support. These groups will be fluid and students may enter and leave based on their ability. This program is designed to strengthen skills and concepts and help students read and solve word problems successfully.

English Language Arts Support: Mrs. Morris is working with students in grades 2-5 who need additional support in reading and writing. English Language Arts support will meet two times out of our 6 day letter cycle. Students who demonstrate similar reading behaviors and skills will meet in small groups to receive support in the foundational skills of literacy which include print concepts, phonological awareness, phonics, word recognition, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Guided reading in the primary grades is an instructional approach where the text can be read, but offers challenges and opportunities for problem solving to figure out words they aren't familiar with and concepts or ideas that they have not encountered before in print. The ultimate goal of this guided instruction is for the student to read a variety of texts with ease and a deep understanding. This experience is a wonderful way to practice the reading strategies explicitly taught in these small groups. Students in the intermediate grades will focus on developing comprehension strategies that will enable them to read and respond to grade-level texts. They will work on anchoring their responses to the text using specific and relevant evidence to support their answers. Their skills will extend from identifying main ideas/theme, understanding character and plot development to author's purpose. Assessment is an ongoing process of gathering data, analyzing and interpreting, and reflecting on the outcome to improve future student learning. Assessments can be a formal test to informal anecdotal notes used to observe individual student behaviors and skills.

Click here for additional photos

October is National Fire Safety Month, so on Tuesday morning, the Jericho Fire Department came to visit the Kindergarten and first grade children to discuss fire safety and show the students all the equipment they use for their jobs. In addition to demonstrating how they put on their gear, they came around and gave all the kids high fives to eliminate the apprehension of approaching a firefighter when they look like "Darth Vader". The students participated in a discussion of dos and don'ts, and knew a lot about what to do in an emergency.  After the demonstration, the children went into a simulation of a smoky home, and learned how to crawl low under the smoke, and then climb down the ladder to get out, trusting the firefighter to help them.  Then they had the opportunity to climb into the fire truck and see all the tools that are used.  It was very exciting for everyone!  This is the first lesson in a unit about community helpers, where the children learn about the many people in the community that help others.

This past week Mrs. Bronstein put up a beautiful bulletin board in the hallway after an Iyan Tefilah lesson on Modeh Ani. After the students recited the prayer they had a beautiful discussion in class about the things in their lives for which they want to thank God. 

The display on the bulletin board highlights letters written to God. Here are some excerpts of their moving, heartwarming thoughts:

Daniel S. "Thank you God that for the good life you gave me and for my family who supports me."

Shay G: "Thank you for my two brothers who love me and for my love for them. Thank you for good friends that help me when I'm sad and Thank you God for the food on my plate, the school that I go and the synagogue where I pray."

Rebeka B. "Thank you God for my soul and my spirit! Thank you for my friends who make me happy."

Mikey B. "Thank you God  for my little brother, to my friends and my great family. Thank you for clean air, food for my family and for my life."

Layna B. "Thank you for my soul, my family that I love so much and for my good friends."

Katie J. "Thank you that I wake up every morning." 

Benjamin D.  "Thank you for my friend Amit who makes me laugh every day and for my good family."

Corey F. "Thank you God for giving me a good life day after day." 

Jeremiah Y. "Thank you for my Hebrew teacher who teaches me Hebrew and Torah."

Wednesday morning Rabbi Kaplowitz invited the teacher and students to watch as she rolled our school Torah back to B'reshit.  The children gathered around a long table in the gym while Mrs. Stern helped Rabbi Kaplowitz roll the Torah back to this week's portion. As she rolled she asked a lot of questions which our students were able to answer with ease. She pointed out how we know when we are at the beginning of each book, she explained the spacing between the books and she showed the students that when a poem is written, it is done so in columns.  Finally, after rolling up most of the Torah, Rabbi Kaplowitz pointed out where we are for this week's Torah portion, Noach.  The children loved this activity and were fascinated to see the Torah up close and personal. View additional photos here.

On Thursday morning, we came together as a community and celebrated the Bat Mitzvah of our first and

third grade Judaic Studies teacher, Mrs. Sharone Gabay. Mrs. Gabay has been studying at the Dix Hills Jewish Center with Rabbi Buechler and Cantor Hevenstone. She read her first Aliyah and delivered a beautiful D'var Torah. It was very special having Rabbi Levenson officiate at this milestone event as he is the Rabbi in Residence for third grade and visits their classroom every week.

Enjoy additional photos of Mrs. Gabay's Bat Mitzvah

It was wonderful to welcome back our students, teachers and parents to Kabbalat Shabbat today. In addition to our guest Darshan, Cantor Carol Chelser of Temple Beth Torah in Westbury, Mrs. Stern invited six fifth grade students to deliver their D'var Torah for this week's parasha. Thanks to Noah S., Scarlet-Lily P., Sam Q., Elisha H. Risa R. and Natalie G. for participating in this week's Kabbalat Shabbat.  The students worked closely with Mrs. Stern analyzing the text, discussing their interpretations and how this week's parasha relates to their lives.

They began by chanting three psukim and then they presented a wonderful skit. According to our fifth graders, at the time of Noah there were people who did not behave well. There was fighting, arguing and a lack of empathy among each other. HaShem tells Noah to build an ark to be safe, take two of each animal on board and prepare for the flood. After it rained for 40 days and 40 nights they leave the ark and decide to build a tower. They want this tower (Babel) to reach the heavens so they could be like God and wouldn't need him. God did not like the pride and arrogance in the hearts of the people and so he suddenly caused the people to speak different languages. Now, they could not communicate and work together to build the tower and this caused the people to scatter across the land. The students then explained that when people are mean and there is no compassion or concern for others, HaShem is furious. But, when people make mistakes, even towards HaShem, he does not punish, but rather he redirects us and gives us tools by which to live to make our world a better place.

After the fifth grade's presentation, we began Kabbalat Shabbat and Cantor Chesler and her guitar joined Mrs. Stern on the piano. Cantor Chesler's musical accompaniment lifted our ruach to new heights. She spoke about Noah and the flood and as she told her story she built an ark for everyone to see. She taught us a new song about Noah's Ark and had everyone in the audience singing and clapping. She is a true gift to the Schechter community. Click for additional Kabbalat Shabbat photos

Wishing you a wonderful week filled with wisdom, music and song.

Shabbat Shalom,

Sandi Swerdloff
Principal, Lower School
Posted in October 2017


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