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Ma’ayanot Growth, Renovations & Innovation

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Teaneck–With five new state-of-the-art classrooms, an expanded student lounge and a Special Services suite, Ma’ayanot is ready to receive the largest student body in the school’s young history. While this is not the largest incoming 9th grade (the current 11th grade holds that record), this year’s enrollment is the highest ever, with 307 students and 285 families.

An all-girls Modern Orthodox High School, Ma’ayanot offers rigorous college preparatory classes and rich Judaic studies. Dedicated to keeping class sizes small this renovation was a redistribution of space and infrastructure ‘We made a number of changes to the internal structure of the building to primarily improve the flow of people and maximize the building’s usable space to work better for our needs,’ said principal Rivka Kahn. “We reconfigured the lobby and the visitor processing center, enhanced building security, including the installation of blast-proof glass, an upgraded the alarm system and overall better access control,” said Rachel Feldman.

Well-defined by its passionate commitment to develop independent critical thinkers, equipped to analyze, assess and contribute to the world around them. “We have a surprise for our students this year–a way for them to be included in the finalization of the new student lounge,” said Kahan. “But we don’t want to reveal it prematurely, we want to share it with the girls first,” said Pam Ennis Director of Community Relations and a member of the History department.

Every year there are courses that are introduced based on students’ input and interest in a topic or issue. This year there are three new innovative courses, Criminal Law, Biblical Leadership and Senior Thesis. The Criminal Law class will be taught through film. Ennis has a background in government and law and developed a new syllabus over the summer with a brand new approach to teaching big social and political issues. For a final project students will select a social issue and create their own short movie based on the legal concept of their choice. “It’s very exciting I have never done anything like this and neither has the school,” said Ennis.

For 11th graders, Sarah Gordon, Director of Student Activities, will teach Biblical Leadership, a course combining leadership and text studies. Students will explore text-based narratives from Tanach and will learn how to run events, how to develop a program, how to develop vision, using Torah as a template to teach practical leadership skills. For graduating students there is the Senior Thesis. The students in this program will have mentors to guide them in independent research in a topic or issue they are interested in and providing the support to “let them fly with it to produce something great. One girl aspires to write a novel and another wants to translate a large body of Hebrew text. Whatever direction they choose, they will have the guidance to delve deeper in their own areas of interest,” said Kahan.

Incoming 9th graders will each receive iPads, bringing mobile technology into the classroom. Teacher training has been extensive leading up to the tech launch. It has increased creative thinking, developed new techniques for integrated learning and real-world application of technology.

In other matters, skirts have gotten too short and girls have long protested the no sandal policy. So in an ongoing effort to inspire tzniut yet fit into the norms of a Modern Orthodox community, the administration is now allowing open-toed shoes but will enforce dress codes. Recognizing it’s a balance that sometimes escalates into embarrassment and conflict, the codes have been revised to preserve the teacher student relationship. We hope that our new system will be embraced. Nothing is off the table, students can bring up anything they are struggling with and we can have a respectful conversation about it,” said Kahan.

Ma’ayanot offers robust special services and provides tutorials to many students throughout the day. A strong department with two full time teachers headed by Elise Vitow, in an environment accommodates peer-to-peer and group tutorials, while providing comfortable study portals and meeting space.

Growing and enhancing the Adult Education department is a part of the plan, “We are expanding taking our Torah learning ‘on the road’ to other communities. The events have been well attended both at home and in other communities like Highland Park, so we will continue to expand,” said Ennis.

Open House is scheduled after the chaggim and parlor meetings will be scheduled from late October through December check Maayanot.org for more information and Like them on Faceback.

By Elyse Hansford

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