April 14, 2024
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Lubavitch on the Palisades Expands, Opens Middle School

Tenafly–Another floor will be added at the Lubavitch on the Palisades campus on Harold Street in Tenafly, a project set to be completed next fall. The Lubavitch on the Palisades School (LPS) will be formalizing as a full-service nursery through eighth grade Jewish day school as it initiates its first sixth grade in the 2015-2016 school year.

Jennifer Davis will serve as general studies principal for both the elementary and the middle school, while Orite Rubenstein will serve as director of middle school Judaic studies, as well as continuing as director of the preschool. As the grade levels increase, more staff is being added.

Known to most in the community by the robust nursery school located at Rabbi Mordechai Shain’s active Chabad on the Palisades shul, the combined preschool and elementary school currently has 330 students, with 250 of those being part of the preschool program.

A heimish, warm school infused with a deep love of Torah, many parents have characterized LPS as a place to grow–and that’s fitting, because it is constantly growing, physically. As part of the new expansion, eight more classrooms, a science lab, and a gym are set to be added to the eight new classrooms that the elementary school moved into just last year.

Ten students are currently committed to entering the sixth grade, with more expected to join. Seventy other students comprise the elementary school, with multiple sections in the lower grades.

“Our reputation is growing as the school is growing,” said Davis, who joined LPS a year and a half ago from Boca Raton, Florida, where she was an assistant principal/grade level advisor at Boca’s Donna Klein Hebrew Academy. She began her career in the NYC public schools, with most of her experience at the middle school level. “It was Rabbi Shain’s vision that brought me to LPS; he was committed to strengthening the elementary school and building a middle school,” Davis said.

In addition to departmental electives such as art, physical education, music, and library, Davis said that hands-on learning experiences and partnerships with museums for general education programming will be a big part of the middle school’s unique edge. All middle schoolers will use Google Chromebooks in addition to their traditional computer lab; the fifth grade students are in fact already using them. LPS students will even be treated to a hands-on experience with Google itself. “One of our student’s dad works at Google, so we are working on a programming project with them,” she said.

LPS is committed to offering a competitive and rigorous curriculum, with the support that every child needs to succeed, Davis said. Writing workshops, study skills workshops, and a full resource room with push-in/pull-out instruction, with three staff members initially, will be at the students’ disposal. A middle school advisory program has been put into place, which will have one teacher advising only three or four students. “Our favorable student-teacher ratio enhances individual learning focusing on each student’s strengths,” said Rubenstein. Both Davis and Rubenstein stressed that LPS is making an effort to ensure all incoming students’ comfort, by offering second track for middle school students who have not previously attended Jewish day school. “Limudei Kodesh in middle school will offer two differentiated learning tracks to cater to our current students, as well as prospective students from non-Jewish day school backgrounds,” Rubenstein said.

Both Rubenstein and Davis also shared that as their students grow to reach the age of middle school, the loving and comforting environment that LPS is known for becomes even more important. “Some people say they don’t need the love and nurturing anymore since they’re so much bigger, but I say that’s when they really need the love and nurturing; it’s difficult to navigate one’s way through these very trying years,” Davis said.

“As our children enter into adolescence, our limudei kodesh program focuses on maintaining a proper balance between a rigorous curriculum that will prepare them for high school, while still nurturing their souls,” said Rubenstein. The middle school Judaic studies program will not be co-ed.

“They will be Hebrew speakers; they will learn to independently navigate through Chumash, Navi and Mishna. Students will incorporate various chesed opportunities into their week and discover ways to become a part of their community. LPS students will leave elementary schools with solid pride in their Jewish identity and assured that their caring teachers are there to support them,” said Rubenstein.

LPS, at 11 Harold Street, in Tenafly, will hold its Middle School Open House on November 12, 2014, at 7:30pm. For more information or to RSVP, visit LPS on the web at http://www.lpsnj.org/elementary, or call Jennifer Davis at 201-871-1152, ext 510. Email [email protected].

By Elizabeth Kratz

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