April 26, 2018
11 Iyyar 5778
Dear AJA Community,
If I could summarize my role as a parent into one overarching wish, it would be: to give my children even a little more than I had and present them with more opportunities in their lives to be happy, successful and good human beings. I’m sure we all share those goals and dreams for our children. At AJA, we work daily to make that happen for our students.
Last week I shared the first in a series of “what makes AJA unique”. This week I want to highlight for you a cornerstone of our school. All of the work we do, comes from the assumption, supposition, and foundation that we are a school of academic excellence. This is not to say that there are not areas for growth - we are always working tirelessly to continue to improve. Yet, I am here to say that I don't think we spend enough time bragging or sharing outside testimonies and recognition about the quality of our AJA education. So, with your permission (thanks!) let the bragging begin.
As you may have heard - our graduating Seniors are getting into INCREDIBLY selective colleges, universities, Yeshivot and seminaries - even with this year’s record low acceptance rates. Just some highlights (full list at the end of this email!): Emory University (x4!), Princeton University, Georgia Tech (x3!), Yale University, Brandeis University, Johns Hopkins University, Boston University and SUNY Binghamton (x2!) and our students were awarded over $600,000 in scholarships - pretty impressive for a graduating class of 22 students!
Yasher Koach! I’m so proud of the Class of 2018 - today I want to focus on the secret sauce that opens up these opportunities for our students.
A 21st Century education means that we need to acknowledge that memorizing vocabulary words, fluency in math facts or history dates is not sufficient. To succeed in this world, our students need to understand concepts behind the subject and how to use them. I’d like to use Math to articulate my point. (Stay tuned to future Thursday Thoughts for examples from other subjects.)
Math Literacy begins in our ECD. The children are exposed to Math in an organic fun, playful and very visual way. This foundation paves the way for them to head into the Lower School feeling comfortable with numbers.
In 1st Grade, we don't just teach kids Math - we illustrate the meaning of and how to raise money. They learn firsthand about quantities, tracking inventory, goods & services, needs & wants - and all in the context of raising money for their special overnight trip to the zoo. Our teachers brought math alive by helping the students run a business to sell bookmarks – and they are over halfway to their goal! I have to believe that this incredible Math foundation leads our 1st Graders to consistently score above National Norms on the MAP test.
The learning continues as the students grow. Our 2nd – 4th Graders were able to use their problem-solving and thinking skills when they competed in the Nationwide Continental Math League. Out of all the students, three of our AJA math geniuses brought prizes back to AJA! Bess Krasner, Amitai Sadinoff and Micah Lembeck made us so proud.
Our Middle School Math department will introduce an incredible new math program “Big Ideas” to the school. It uses STEM concepts and connects math to science in an innovative way. Our Math & Science teachers have also banded together to coordinate units to emphasize the relationship between math and science. STEM day will be celebrated in our Middle School on May 4.
Did you know that many of our Upper School underclassmen are encouraged to take higher level US math courses (not usually open to underclassmen) based on their acumen! Our average SAT math score is an impressive 655 - and our average AP Statistics Exam score is 4.0! We offer ten Upper School Math options so that all AJA Upper School students can be challenged at the appropriate level of challenge and take their math skills as far as possible.
We want our students to stretch.
We encourage them to stretch.
We are a small, yet nimble school and encourage growth, success and the opportunity to be pushed when it’s appropriate. Again, this math trajectory is just one example of academic excellence at AJA...stay tuned for more insights into other AJA academic fields.
One community. One school. This cohesiveness and connection allows us to offer these opportunities to our students – starting with our little ones and reaching all the way to our graduating Seniors who are are being offered the most top notch post-graduation options! (and are menches, too)!
Thanks for taking this math journey with me.
Rabbi Ari Leubitz