Upcoming Conference Explores the Jewish Day School of the Future

More than 600 leaders and educators at Jewish day schools across the spectrum of Jewish practice will convene Feb. 6th to 8th in Los Angeles for the North American Jewish Day School Conference, exploring issues and approaches changing the face and direction of Jewish day school education for the new decade.

From making special education a priority within the Jewish day school framework, to harnessing technology to enhance and strengthen curricula and classrooms, to maintaining financially sustainable institutions of quality, the conference will address issues relevant to a day school movement committed to transmitting knowledge, enhancing practice, ensuring a vibrant future and solidifying its place on the educational landscape.

The conference is a joint initiative of the Solomon Schechter Day School Association, RAVSAK: The Jewish Community Day School Network, the Institute for University-School Partnership at Yeshiva University, and PARDeS: The Progressive Association of Reform Day Schools. This is the second year that the organizations, representing the arc of Jewish movements and educational approaches, have joined to organize the conference and explore common issues.

“This conference, representing a collaboration among Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and Community day schools, and now in its second year, is already established as a paradigm for silo-busting in the Jewish community,” said Dr. Marc Kramer, executive director of RAVSAK. “Our common denominator is the recognition that Jewish day schools are the most significant venue for Jewish continuity. So it is that we convene to examine the essential emerging issues for Jewish schools.”

The theme of the conference is The High Performance, High-Tech Jewish Day School of the Very Near Future, underscoring how Jewish educational professionals are transforming their individual institutions – and the day school movement itself – into inclusive venues of educational quality and value utilizing proven, effective and emerging approaches.

Delegates will attend three plenary sessions during the conference, featuring some of the most innovative and prominent thinkers in educational circles.

Nearly 70 sessions and workshops will focus on the provocative issues, ideas, challenges and opportunities facing Jewish educational leaders building the day schools of the future, and including the promises and pitfalls of Israel education, new technologies and philanthropic support.

Jewish education for students with special needs occupies a significant slice of programming at the 2011 conference, reflecting trends toward inclusion as a Jewish value to be reflected in day schools, offering children with special needs a community option for formal Jewish education.

“The collaborative discussions about current issues and new approaches will generate a robust and dynamic gathering,” said Dr. Elaine Shizgal Cohen, executive director of the Solomon Schechter Day School Association. “The level of attendance for this 2011 conference signals a hunger for collegial community among day school leaders and an openness to new ways of making our day schools and classrooms models of excellence and innovation that contribute to the enduring vitality of the Jewish community.”

The North American Jewish Day School Leadership Conference is sponsored by the AVI CHAI Foundation, the Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education, The Covenant Foundation, ERB, the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education, The Kohelet Foundation and several anonymous funders.

A full schedule for the conference is viewable at the conference website.