Advice on Special Education

By Aura Lurie, Director of SINAI at SAR Academy on Apr 9, 2019
This blog post was originally published on SAR's Divine Sparks blog.  It was the first recess on the first day of school, and Shlomo’s (not his real name) first day at SINAI at SAR Academy. Shlomo was very social, and had many friends, but his academic challenges were complex and he struggled in many parts of his day.  Although they knew that SINAI was the right academic setting for him, Shlomo’s parents were apprehensive that he would not be able cultivate and maintain friendships with the SAR students. Shlomo went out to recess with all the other children, including SINAI...
By Malca and Rabbi Haim Jachter for The Jewish Link on Feb 15, 2019
We vividly recall the unforgettable moment when the doctor told us that our child had Down syndrome. It felt like a horrific sentence meted out to us. The questions and fears loomed large. What kind of a life would our child have? How would this impact our family?  For the past 12 years, SINAI Schools has provided so many of the answers to these daunting questions. The infinitely patient and talented staff has helped Chaya Ziporah grow in her social skills and knowledge of Jewish life, and she has advanced in mathematics, reading and writing. Over the years, SINAI staff worked with...
By Chana Shestack and Kayla Silow-Carroll in The Jewish Link on Dec 17, 2018
When Ilana Picker, one of the head teachers at SINAI’s Karasick Shalem High School at Ma’ayanot, heard about the upcoming Veterans Day Hero 5K Run at Bergen Community College, she knew immediately that the experience would be perfect for her SINAI students. SINAI at Ma’ayanot offers a functional academic high school program designed to prepare students with intellectual and developmental disabilities for rich and productive adult lives. The 5K run was an opportunity to combine adaptive physical education with personal goal-setting and inclusion in the broader local community.  ​​Mrs....
By Erika Svolos, Music Therapist on May 12, 2017
Music therapy is a highly effective evidenced-based tool in the treatment of children and adolescents with special needs.  SINAI’s own board certified music therapist, Erika Svolos, shares five ways she sees Music Therapy support and help our SINAI students each day. Music Therapy enhances and supports students’ ability to effectively communicate with others.  Music has been a form of communication from the beginning of time.  In music therapy, we use experiences like music making, music creation, and singing to provide our students with new ways to express their thoughts...
By Rabbi Dr. Yisrael Rothwachs, Dean on May 1, 2017
Parenting is complicated. I remember how naive I was as a younger parent and less-experienced educator, thinking that it was simple—wondering how parents could do this or their children behave like that. Over time, though, I’ve grown to appreciate how nuanced parenting is and how many variables are at play. The typical complexity of parenting is only compounded further when there is disability at play. In general, it is acutely difficult to generalize good parenting advice, all the more so to share meaningful suggestions for parents of children with special needs. With very rare exceptions,...
By Dr. Karen N. Wasserman, School Psychologist on Apr 3, 2017
            The feelings leading up to Pesach---or any family and holiday meal---can bring either excitement or trepidation and fear, all depending on the lens you have and your particular cast of characters. Add an individual who has special needs into the mix, and everything is magnified.  In these circumstances, the key to a successful holiday is planning.  Whether you are hosting the entire family for all eight days of Pesach or spending the holiday away from home, the more you plan and the more you talk it through with your...
By Ilana Chill on Mar 7, 2017
I have a silver linings kind of life. We, as a family, grapple with some enormous challenges, sometimes on a daily basis. We constantly have to make allowances and adjustments and modifications that other families don't ever have to consider. But, because of all that, I think we're probably closer than most families. I have a son who struggles in so many ways, but who approaches life with joy and wit and humor, and is capable of so much more than he lets on. I have three other children who often get a combined twenty five percent of my attention--but who are rarely resentful of that,...
By Esther Klavan, Director, SINAI Shalem High School at TABC on Oct 6, 2016
It is widely known among educators that students learn through a variety of modalities. Some students’ learning styles are obvious to the observer taking a sneak peek into a classroom setting, while other styles take some creativity to unwrap and discover.  The most common modalities through which individuals best learn are: visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic. By determining the styles through which students best absorb content and skills, educators can tailor lessons to allow for optimal learning and success.Take the visual learner. He is the student who just needs to see the...
By Esther Klavan, Director of Shalem High School for Boys at TABC on Apr 27, 2016
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. So where does this phrase...
By Debra Kammerman, LCSW on Sep 24, 2015
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. Your children, whether they are starting at a new school or are returning students, have a lot to balance during this time of year. They are acclimating to their school routine—a different schedule, more structure and increased expectations. Additionally, you are dealing with the extra demands of preparing for the chagim. It may seem that just as you have begun to...

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