Exploring the Jewish Day School of the Future

Leaders in Jewish Education to Convene for North American Jewish Day School Conference

More than 600 leaders and educators at Jewish day schools across the spectrum of Jewish practice will convene February 6 – 8 in Los Angeles for the North American Jewish Day School Conference, exploring issues and approaches changing the face and direction of Jewish day school education for the new decade.

From making special education a priority within the Jewish day school framework, to harnessing technology to enhance and strengthen curricula and classrooms, to maintaining financially sustainable institutions of quality, the conference will address issues relevant to a day school movement committed to transmitting knowledge, enhancing practice, ensuring a vibrant future and solidifying its place on the educational landscape.

The conference is a joint initiative of the Institute for University-School Partnership at Yeshiva University, the Solomon Schechter Day School Association, RAVSAK: The Jewish Community Day School Network and PARDeS: The Progressive Association of Reform Day Schools. This is the second year that the organizations, representing the arc of Jewish movements and educational approaches, have joined to organize the conference and explore common issues.

“This conference, representing a collaboration among Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and Community day schools, and now in its second year, is already established as a paradigm for silo-busting in the Jewish community,” said Dr. Marc Kramer, executive director of RAVSAK. “Our common denominator is the recognition that Jewish day schools are the most significant venue for Jewish continuity. So it is that we convene to examine the essential emerging issues for Jewish schools.”

The theme of the conference is The High Performance, High-Tech Jewish Day School of the Very Near Future, underscoring how Jewish educational professionals are transforming their individual institutions – and the day school movement itself  – into inclusive venues of educational quality and value utilizing proven, effective and emerging approaches.

“The registration of hundreds of schools and organizational leaders for the second annual North American Jewish Day School Conference is testimony that our first gathering was a success and that convening the field focused on Jewish education is an integral part of our collective work,” said Dr. Scott Goldberg, director of the Institute for University-School Partnership. “This year’s conference, focusing on schools of the future, reinforces our partnership with schools and the field at large in advancing Jewish education today and for generations to come. Educators and leaders will once again have the opportunity to network and learn from each other and experts, gaining the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to lead our schools in the 21st century.”

Nearly 70 sessions and workshops will focus on the provocative issues, ideas, challenges and opportunities facing Jewish educational leaders building the day schools of the future, and including the promises and pitfalls of Israel education, new technologies and philanthropic support.

Jewish education for students with special needs occupies a significant slice of programming at the 2011 conference, reflecting trends toward inclusion as a Jewish value to be reflected in day schools, offering children with special needs a community option for formal Jewish education.

The North American Jewish Day School Leadership Conference is sponsored by the AVI CHAI Foundation, the Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education, The Covenant Foundation, ERB, the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education, The Kohelet Foundation and several anonymous funders.

A full schedule for the conference is viewable at the conference website, www.jewishdayschoolconference.org.

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