Hannah Senesh is a coed Jewish community day school for grades K to 8 located in the heart of Carroll Gardens Brooklyn. The school draws students from a diversity of Jewish backgrounds and it is not affiliated with a congregation. Their new modern building is full of light and art. The school is small, just one class on a grade, but the opportunities for their students are wide ranging.
Each elementary grade has two classrooms, one for general ed studies and one for Judaic studies and Hebrew language. “As modern Jews living in the Diaspora, our students are often called upon to find a balance between their religious and secular selves; we hope to help them navigate finding that balance for themselves, while providing them with the tools they need to access the full range of contemporary Jewish life.” There is a focus on critical thinking and classroom discussions. When parents ask if there is a trade off academically when the students spend a significant amount of time in the Judaic studies classroom, the school makes a very strong case for the academic and life skills that are developed there.
The core curriculum is “built on a strong foundation of knowledge and skills acquisition, is based on a model of critical-thinking and open-inquiry, and is constantly enhanced by teacher-developed materials on current themes and topics.” There are arts classrooms, a science lab and a large, bright gym/cafeteria that serves a Dairy Parve menu. They are using the Singapore Mathematics program. At the middle school level, the student-centered classrooms are divided by subjects, with leveling in the Hebrew and Math classes.
The strength of this school community is evident in the warmth of the teachers, the respect in the classroom and the involvement of the parents. The main admission to the school is at Kindergarten, but there is also an opportunity for new students at the middle school level. Students entering without fluency in Hebrew are accommodated and catch up quickly. The school is getting strong and wide ranging high school placements (their guidance department is very skilled in placement) in a variety of rigorous independent and public programs.
About the Contributor: Joyce Szuflita, Founder & President of NYC School Help, is a regular contributor to the NYC Firm Schools Blog in the area of Brooklyn schools.