New York Community Invited to Dedication Ceremony Celebrating this Unique School Serving Families of Children with Language-Based Learning Disabilities
The Shefa School, a new Jewish day school serving children in grades 1-7 with language learning challenges, invites the New York community to the dedication of its permanent home at 40 East 29th Street on Monday, November 21 at 6:00pm. Extensive renovation of the state-of-the-art facility has been completed and students have begun attending school in their new home.
Since opening with 24 students and 12 faculty in two classrooms at the Lincoln Square Synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in September 2014, Shefa has grown to 80 students served by a staff of 42 faculty and administrators dedicated to serving students with language-based learning disabilities who have not yet reach their potential levels of success in traditional classroom settings. The Shefa School is a pluralistic community day school, serving families across a range of Jewish observance and background.
“Opening this building fulfills a dream as we now have a beautiful space that will allow us to live out our mission and give us an opportunity to reach more children and families. Now children can get an excellent special education within the warm embrace of the Jewish community,” said Ilana Ruskay-Kidd, Shefa’s founder and Head of School.
Shefa students come from Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, Long Island, Westchester, and New Jersey – representing a diverse geographic, religious, and socio-economic range and illustrating the strong commitment their families have toward Shefa’s approach to learning. Shefa’s new, three-story facility will give the community the space it needs to continue to grow and meet a pressing demand for educational services targeting the needs of this population.
“While we knew that there was a need for a school like this, we never expected such resounding support and rapid growth in the first few years of our school,” said Ruskay-Kidd.
Shefa’s new facility includes brand new classrooms fully equipped with instructional technology, break-out spaces for small group learning, designated middle school space, and facilities for STEM programs. Richard Krantz of the Integrity Consulting Group (ICG) managed the construction with HLW serving as the architectural firm for the project. In order to support the build-out of the new space and the school’s expansion, the Board of Trustees launched a $6 million capital campaign and has raised 85% toward its goal.
“Since Shefa’s inception, we have been incredibly gratified by the outpouring of community support for this vital project. Thanks to the insight and dedication of our teachers and administrators, Shefa has quickly developed a strong reputation among families and attracted interest from donors looking to support the school’s mission,” said Justin Zises, the President of the school’s Board. “We are well positioned for continued growth.”
Shefa offers families a comprehensive academic program delivered by a well-trained faculty of special educators. While a core part of Shefa’s mission is to encourage a parallel effort to elevate the quality of inclusionary programs within existing Jewish day schools, the school does not see those programs and its own as mutually exclusive. Recent research has shown that the best interventions for certain types of learning challenges occur in settings where students are grouped homogenously based on skills and immersed in structured, language-rich instruction all day.
As the only stand-alone Jewish school specifically for this population of students, Shefa has attracted many families who are interested in a Jewish education combined with a research-based multisensory approach and small class size. For families admitted to or already attending the Shefa School, the announcement of the new space was met with excitement and gratitude.
“We are grateful to Shefa for helping us meet the challenges of educating our children with a holistic approach that not only prepares them academically but embraces the faith and traditions we hold dear,” said Paula Wynne, parent of a 5th grader.
Echoing a similar sentiment, Gila Cohen whose son Ilan is in 7th grade, said, “Shefa is creating life long successful learners. I have seen my son transform, embrace words, develop strengths and stand tall in who he is, in ways I never dreamed possible.”