Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Low Tuition from the Hudson to the Sound to the South Shore

The Jewish Week is covering the 'Axis' of low tuition Yeshiva Day Schools in the Tri-state area including He'atid, Westchester Torah Academy and Tiferet Academy.

In other news Tiferet had a successful open house (see pictures if you're on facebook) and WTA announced a Principal (details after the jump).

Maybe 'Chump' was right to declare "victory"?

[UPDATE: He'atid Open House video below]

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Interview with Tiferet Academy Board Member

This interview was published by the Five Towns Jewish Times about the new Tiferet Academy opening in the fall in Woodmere, NY:

Q & A With Tzvi Saperstein Of Tiferet Academy

By 5TJT Staff

5TJT: Tzvi, as a board member of Tiferet Academy, can you summarize the current plans for the school?

TS: Tiferet Academy represents the future of yeshiva classrooms, featuring cutting-edge educational practices known as 21st Century Learning and financially responsible operational policies that allow for lower, sustainable tuition pricing. We are excited to open our doors next September, with classes for pre-K through third grade. Our facilities will be in the local Five Towns area.

5TJT: You say that Tiferet is the future of the yeshiva classroom. How’s that?

TS: In a traditional classroom, you have one teacher lecturing to a large group of children for hours at the average pace of the classroom. This doesn’t effectively teach the students at their own level, which is unfortunate.

At Tiferet, we are focused on teaching every child at his/her individual pace and making sure that students develop skills like critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration. To accomplish this, the classroom is divided into different sections where children can learn in different ways. In one section, a small group of students learn from a teacher in the traditional way. In another section, they will learn collaboratively with other students on hands-on projects, under the direct supervision of a teacher. At another section within the classroom, students can interact with laptops or iPads, to test their mastery of the lesson and either move ahead if they understand it, or get additional assistance from a teacher, if needed.

5TJT: How does that help teach children?

TS: It helps in three ways: It allows for more individualized face time with the teacher, because instead of teaching 20 children at once, they can teach a group a fraction of that size. Secondly, it allows for the development of social and collaborative skills, in that students spend a lot of time working directly together. Lastly, because the software is assessing students on a daily basis, teachers are able to track a student’s progress and know where the knowledge gaps are in real time. Teachers and parents no longer need to wait for quizzes and tests to see how much of the material a child truly understands, and get them the help they need immediately.

5TJT: Does that mean you can replace teachers with technology?

TS: Not at all. If anything, we empower teachers even more by providing them with complete insight into their student’s subject mastery in real time. Instead of having to waste time grading tests by hand, the technology frees up the teacher to focus on the lesson content and their individual relationship with the child. We can also give them even more administrative responsibility, which helps the school operate even more efficiently.

5TJT: Does technology help with Judaic studies as well?

TS: It does. While there are far more providers of general studies, more and more Jewish and Hebrew providers have been offering software programs as well. Where certain content doesn’t yet exist, we will teach in the traditional way, with emphasis on more project-based and collaborative learning.

5TJT: Who is going to be heading Tiferet?

TS: The board selected Rabbi Avraham Sacks, a warm, engaging administrator with a fantastic administration background to be our head of school. He previously served as the head of school at Hillel Academy in Pittsburgh, and before that as assistant headmaster of Ramaz Lower School, where he worked for 13 years in various administrative and teaching roles.

5TJT: What was your motivation in helping found Tiferet?

TS: Well, I am a father of three children myself and very interested in making sure that they get the best possible education, using the best tools and methodologies we currently have available. When I learned about the 21st Century Learning educational model and saw what the potential impact could be on the yeshiva community, it was really exciting to me. It represented a much better way to teach our children as well as a way to help operate schools with greater financial efficiency.

I also loved the idea that we would be a part of a growing, collaborative movement, along with Yeshivat He’Atid and Westchester Torah Academy. The potential for independent yeshivas to share resources and learning between their schools as a way for everyone to operate more efficiently has never existed before to this degree in the yeshiva world.

5TJT: What are some of the challenges you will face in opening Tiferet?

TS: I think we have to dispel certain myths about 21st Century Learning and incorporating technology in the classroom. People tend to fear change and progress because they aren’t familiar with it. So my biggest challenge is to demystify how the Tiferet classroom will work and how big an advantage to educating a child it actually is. Along with Rabbi Sacks, I recently drove out to a school called Achievement First in Connecticut to see a 21st Century Learning public charter school in action and was amazed by what I saw: 80% of the kindergarten class were able to read without any trouble. I’m really excited to see those kinds of results in Tiferet!

We also have to stress to parents that the quality level of a 21st Century Learning education is not new or “experimental.” The success rates have been proven. These educational practices have been in place for over a decade in private and charter schools, with tremendous long-term success. They are only getting better and already far exceed scores from traditional education in standardized testing.

5TJT: If the education is more advanced, how are you able to lower tuition costs so much more significantly than other schools?

TS: Because 21st Century Learning allows us to operate significantly more efficiently, we can save money and return those savings to the parent body in the form of lower tuition. When you add in some of our operational plans, such as not forcing parents to pay extra money towards a scholarship fund, the tuition savings are impactful.

5TJT: Does that mean you won’t have any financial assistance for parents who need it?

TS: We absolutely plan to offer assistance for parents who need it due to circumstances out of their control. Funds will be raised separately from ba’alei tzedakah and from Tiferet parents who voluntarily choose to donate money towards our scholarship. We will not make our scholarship fund mandatory, nor are we padding our tuition numbers to cover some of the scholarship fund. This is because we want to offer long-term sustainable and stable tuition prices for our families.

5TJT: Will there be an open house so parents can learn more about Tiferet?

TS: Yes! We are holding Tiferet’s open house this Sunday, November 18 at 7:30 p.m.! We’ll be doing a presentation in the Lawrence Woodmere Academy auditorium at 336 Woodmere Boulevard in Woodmere where people can hear from Rabbi Sacks in person, as well as a representative from Education Elements, experts in 21st Century Learning, and others. We’re putting on a really exciting and eye-opening program. Any parent that wants to see where the future of yeshiva classrooms are headed should definitely come and listen. They can find more information and RSVP for the open house at

5TJT: We are looking forward to hearing more about Tiferet in the coming months. Thank you so much for your time!

TS: My pleasure!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Guest Post: Teaneck Community Charter School & THS Open Houses Tonight

Teaneck Community Charter School Open House Thurs Nov 15
On November 15th Teaneck Community Charter School will host an open house for prospective families at 7 p.m. at 563 Chestnut Ave. in Teaneck.

Come take a tour of TCCS, meet the administration, faculty and learn more about the unique educational opportunities offered at TCCS. School hours are from 8:30am - 3:15 pm with before and after care options available. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact the office at (201) 833-9600.
Applications can be found online at

TCCS educational philosophy
•Students work in diverse, cooperative teams to produce tangible results
•Students use computers and technology in all aspects of their education from
•Small group instruction ensures that all students meet high standards of
literacy and numeracy- no more than 17 students per class and only 2 classes per
•Students are empowered to utilize higher order thinking skills, to take
responsibility for their actions, and to solve problems independently and
•Real-world, hands-on projects encourage students to apply the skills they gain
in the classroom
•Parents are full partners in their children's education. Families work together
to improve the physical environment, enrich education and participate in

Teaneck High School Open House
On November 15, Teaneck High School will host an open house for prospective
students and their families at 7pm at 100 Elizabeth Avenue in Teaneck in the
Helen B. Hill Auditorium.
Meet members of the administration, faculty and student body.Learn about the
comprehensive academic programs, Specialty Academies, Israel Club and extensive
extracurricular activities and programs
For more information:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Westchester Torah Academy Announces Location, Open House

Westchester Torah Academy, AKA Yeshivat Netzach, will be having its open house at 8pm on Monday, November 26th at its location in the Temple Israel of New Rochelle (1000 Pinebrook Boulevard).  No word on any free tuition raffles.  The school is opening IY"H in September, with Kindergarten and 1st grade classes, with Pre-K and 2nd grade under consideration.  Their website talks about blended learning, 21st century education, high-quality, sustainable, affordable etc.  In other words, He'atid.

It was originally going to be called New Roc Torah Academy but I guess they wanted to appeal to other Westchester communities like White Plains & Scarsdale.  It's also only 20 miles from Englewood so definitely an option  for Bergen County.

So the movement is definitely taking off.  Time will tell if it's sustainable in the long run but definitely making life a lot easier for young frum families in the short run.

Tuition schedule is as follows:
  • Pre-K – $8,750
  • Kindergarten – $9,750
  • 1st Grade – $9,750
  • 2nd Grade – $9,750

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Win Free Tuition in Woodmere, NY

The open house for the new Tiferet Academy in Woodmere is still on for next Sunday, November 18 at at 7:30pm at The Lawrence Woodmere Academy, 336 Woodmere Boulevard in Woodmere, New York 11598.

The school, which is modeled after Yeshivat He'atid, will be holding a free raffle to grant one free tuition to one family in attendance at the Open House. For each person who lists you as their inviter, you will get an additional raffle ticket and therefore increase your chances of winning the free tuition.

From their website:

You are encouraged to invite your friends on Facebook and through other outlets. Here is an example post you can copy and paste as your Facebook status:
Win free yeshiva tuition at Tiferet Academy’s Open House:  Sunday, Nov 18th @ 7:30pm @ The Lawrence Woodmere Academy in Woodmere: 336 Woodmere Boulevard. Every person you invite increases your chance of winning, as you get additional raffle tickets for each person who lists you as their inviter. To qualify to win the tuition: Like this post, copy and paste this post as your Facebook status, & RSVP for the Open House here:  

Monday, November 5, 2012

Making an Effort

Hope everyone is warm & safe.  Refuah Shelemiah to anyone who was hurt in the storm and our electrical grid should make a speedy recovery as well.

I think all of the local area schools did their best to open as quickly as possible as soon as electricity was available and it was safe to do so.  They also mostly used email, facebook, texting to keep all of the parents informed and many of them opened up to parents who needed electricity.  Many also opened before the local public schools did. BPY opened on Thursday when most of Paramus was still in the dark.  SAR in Riverdale moved quickly to find space in local shuls to have classes.

But they really need to make up the days missed.  I'm glad they all cancelled the wasteful teacher training day scheduled for election day (tomorrow) but it still doesn't cover the 4 or 5 days missed.  Usually there are 2 days alloted for snow emergency days but they might still be needed for the winter.

I think they can get rid of the Chanukah day, New Year's, the Thursday before Yeshiva Week, Erev shavuot, teacher in-service & day have school until the last Monday in June.  Thoughts?

[UPDATE: As reported by NBC New York:

New York City public school students who got an unexpected break because of Sandy will be seeing their winter break in February cut to make up for it.
City officials announced Monday that the last three days of that week, February 20-22, will be full school days instead of vacation days. Another half-day in June will now be a full class day as well.]