This article is modified from a speech introducing the SINAI Shalem boys’ performance of The Wizard of Oz on April 12, 2016. The students began preparation for the show in September, and spent months leading up to the single performance for their friends and family.
One of our famous mantras here at SINAI Shalem High School is the phrase, “It’s not about cutting bread.” These are 5 simple, comprehensible words that mean so much more. To us, they represent the philosophy by which we design every learning experience. It is about process, not product.
With the start of the new school year and the approaching chagim, September is an exciting time. However, for parents—and particularly for parents of a child with special needs—it can also be uniquely challenging and daunting.
Let’s start with the fundamental belief that children with disabilities and special needs should be full members of a larger “mainstream” community. Although the term “inclusion” means different things to different people, in its purest sense, this is what inclusion is all about.
“Preparation is the key to success.” We hear this phrase over and over, but it is particularly true for the student with disabilities who is planning to go to college. In “Planning for College: Eligibility and Access to Disability Services,” published in The Jewish Link on November 6, I discussed the importance of researching the services available at different colleges, and eligibility for and access to these services. In this article, I will discuss the accommodations that may or may not be available to students with Learning Disabilities (LD) and ADHD.
Every high schooler finds the adjustment to post-secondary institutions anxiety provoking and full of challenges. But for the student with disabilities, preparation for this next stage in life requires additional consideration and planning. The student who was entitled to certain accommodations and modifications in high school needs to know what rights he or she will have in college and how to access those rights; knowledge and preparation are the keys to success in this transition.
With her flowing blond hair, saddle boots, and tattoo, Brooke – a consulting Occupational Therapist – was probably not expecting the challenge I posed to her the day she arrived at our school. “Avi needs your help learning to put on his tefillin,” I said, handing her a mess of boxes and straps that Brooke might have wished came with arrows indicating “This Side Up.” Addressing her unspoken concerns, I continued. “The teacher will show you how they are supposed to go. What we need from you is to figure out why Avi cannot seem to make them work.”
Summertime! Parents around the world breathe a sigh of relief as the everyday stresses of long school days, hectic schedules, and tense nights of homework ease up. Yet, at the same time, many parents hesitate to completely relax during the prolonged summer school break, especially if their children have learning difficulties or disabilities.
Teaneck—“We didn’t know what to do for Binyamin,” Teaneck parents Susan and David Richman told JLBC. At the time, their son was graduating from a special ed. high school and unsure of his next move. For 22-year-old Binyamin Richman, there were few options. He wanted to integrate into a community, but was not able to find his place. Fortunately, in September of 2013, Sinai opened the doors to the Netivot program for young adults, and Binyamin became one of its first participants.
Teaneck—There is a boy who calls his grandmother on his bus ride home each day from school, of course to tell her that he loves her, but also to tell her, with unabashed glee, what he had for lunch that day.
Until this fall, this child with special needs was in public school, before switching to Sinai Schools. “There can be so many barriers to normalcy for a Jewish child with special needs in a public school. Just to be able to have a kosher lunch in the lunchroom with all the other kids in the school, it made him so happy,” said Sam Fishman, managing director of Sinai Schools.
As both a parent and educator, I find myself using the phrase, “What’s your plan?” countless times throughout the week. Whether in response to my own child remarking that he left his math textbook at school and cannot do his homework, or a student coming to let me know that he has two Shabbatonim on the same weekend, my response is typically, “What’s your plan?”