HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal

Special Needs

Special Needs

Schools increasingly need to be aware of a growing range of conditions and challenges that students confront. These challenges present school leaders with numerous considerations at various levels: funding, admissions, staffing, curriculum, health care and more. This pioneering issue serves as a roadmap for leaders as they navigate this complex terrain.

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by RAVSAK Staff Mar 01, 2011

This column features books, articles and websites, recommended by our authors and people from the RAVSAK network, pertaining to the theme of the current issue of HaYidion for readers who want to investigate the topic in greater depth.

From the Desk of Arnee Winshall, RAVSAK Chair

by Arnee Winshall Mar 01, 2011

As the North American Jewish Day School Conference in LA came to a close, I found myself not only re-energized by the incredible sessions I attended, the people I met, and the sense of community that pervaded, but also reflective, thinking about the past year. It is hard to believe that just over a year ago, RAVSAK underwent a transition in governance and I assumed the board chair position with four other founding board members.

From the Editor

by Barbara Davis Mar 01, 2011

Arlene Kanter, director of the Disability Law and Policy Program at the College of Law at Syracuse University—and mother of two graduates from my day school—is currently in Israel on a Fulbright scholarship to help Tel Aviv University establish the country’s first academic program in disability studies. She was recently quoted as saying that what struck her most since arriving in Israel is how myths and misconceptions about people with disabilities transcend local cultural and religious boundaries, and how the fight for equal rights and social recognition for people with disabilities is a universal battle.

Teaching Inclusion: The Whys and Hows

by Ruth Gorrin Mar 01, 2011
RELATED TOPICS: InclusivityPedagogy

One of the basic concepts of Jewish thought is the idea that everyone is created betzelem Elokim, in the image of G-d. This idea frames the way individuals should view others. Students need to recognize that each human being is unique, important and of equal value.

ADHD: What Teachers Need to Know

by Melanie Fernandez Mar 01, 2011

Every teacher has heard about attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, even if he or she isn’t sure of the exact diagnostic criteria. Kids throw around the term “ADHD” in the same way they casually diagnose others with obsessive-compulsive disorder or schizophrenia. A well-organized child is “so OCD,” a child whose ideas seem a little unusual is a “schizo,” a child with lots of energy is “ADHD.” These schoolyard diagnoses have little in common with the real thing.

A Team Approach to Supporting Individualized Learning Needs

by Lenore Layman Mar 01, 2011
RELATED TOPICS: InclusivityCommunity

Learning support teams, the collaboration of teachers and specialists to provide for special learners, are of critical importance in the successful implementation of special education. The responsibilities of team members are extensive, including leadership roles in providing ongoing support to students, parents, teachers and school administrators. Team members need to be involved in the school admission process, early identification of student needs, goal setting, case management, defining accommodations and modifications, remediation, strategy instruction, study skills, differentiated instruction, curriculum mapping, assessment and setting standards for classes as well as school grading policies. Additionally, learning support teams often play an important role in guiding parents through the process of understanding their child’s strengths and challenges and helping students through the demystification process and towards self advocacy.

Proactively Meeting the Needs of All Students in Day School

by Sandy Miller-Jacobs Mar 01, 2011

The picture of special education in Jewish day schools is far brighter today than it was even ten years ago, but for many parents it’s still not adequate. Students with special needs continue to be excluded from day school, and parents can’t understand why their children with special needs are not allowed to participate in the education offered in a day school environment. In research Annette Koren and I performed of parent experiences related to their child with special needs and day schools (“Inclusion of Children with Special Needs in Day Schools: Parent Experiences,” in the 2003 Jewish Education News), parents felt that day schools need to decide whether they are interested in being “prep schools or Jewish schools.” They spoke of the decision to have their child leave the school as though the decision had just been made, although in reality it had been years. They described the pain of having their child—and themselves—excluded from the day school community. A recently published Forward article by Tom Fields-Mayer, “Toward Day Schools for All Children,” opens with the question posed by the author’s son who has high functioning autism: “Why can’t I go to the same schools as my brothers?”

Inclusion Done Right—From the Top Down

by Abbie Weisberg and Heather Tratt Mar 01, 2011
RELATED TOPICS: InclusivityLeadership

Research shows that inclusion continues to be best practice in the field of special education. In the words of disability researcher Zana Marie Lutfiyya: “If people with cognitive impairments are to form friendships and be a part of society as adults, these relationships must develop during childhood. Classmates and neighbors will grow into adult coworkers and friends later in life. Integrated classrooms and recreational activities are important, but are only successful when facilitated. In these settings children with and without disabilities get to meet each other and form relationships.”

Partnering with Parents to Turn Vision into Reality

by Mariashi Groner Mar 01, 2011
RELATED TOPICS: InclusivityParents

“Every Jewish child deserves a Jewish education.” “No child will be turned away for financial reasons.” “Of course, the Jewish community believes in Jewish education.”

Enemies a Love Story: The Family’s Perspective

by David Kalb Mar 01, 2011
RELATED TOPICS: InclusivityParents

Many families confide in me, as a rabbi, about their issues and challenges. One of the greatest problems families have shared with me in recent years has been that of special needs children and Jewish day schools. Families have told me about being turned away from Jewish day schools, being “counseled out” of Jewish day schools, being welcomed into Jewish day schools with inadequate special education programs and living in communities where they simply could not find a Jewish day school that had any kind of special education program.