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The Day School at Baltimore Hebrew – See for Yourself! (Part IV)

By Maayan Jaffe, Baltimore Jewish Examiner [1]

(Part four of a multi-part series)

A small school that makes a big difference is a short phrase for a school with a far reach. Located on the corner of Park Heights and Slade Avenue, Baltimore Hebrew has only about 110 students, but each of those children means the world to the school.
“The teachers tell us we are like their children,” says seventh grader Amalya Murrill.
“I feel like I have lots of mothers and fathers,” says seventh grader Hannah Learner. “My friends are like my brothers and sisters. We are a family.”
On an almost-spring day in March, this reporter decided to see for herself what it is like to learn at a school like Baltimore Hebrew. Interviews with students and teachers were distinct, but shared one common thread: “Going to Baltimore Hebrew translates to personal attention, which translates into an excellent secular and Jewish education.”
“The teachers always have time to help. They’ll work with you over lunch or after school,” says Hannah.
“At Baltimore Hebrew, we learn better and faster,” says sixth-grader Josh Gresser.
Amalya explained that her class is one year advanced in math because they can move so quickly through the material. She also noted that her grasp of Hebrew and knowledge of prayers has allowed her to skip ahead in her bat mitzvah training.
Marcy Hoffman and Allene Gotin have both been teaching at Baltimore Hebrew for more than a quarter-century. Hoffman teaches secular studies to second and third graders. Gotin chairs the Jewish studies department. Both teachers gushed about the school. Superlatives were plenty.
“I like the teachers. The families are very supportive and warm. The kids are fabulous. It’s warm, welcoming, friendly, accepting and understanding,” says Hoffman.
It’s also cutting-edge. In Hoffman’s classroom, for example, there is a smart board and a document camera. She uses them to make the lessons more visual and interactive. She’s trained in differentiated learning and says she is able to teach each student at his/her own pace. She says everyone knows, “we are all here to learn. The kids are learning at their own paces and we are succeeding that way.”
Succeeding on many fronts, according to Gotin. She notes that there is strong integration between the secular and Judaic studies. While students are learning math, writing and computers, they are also learning good Jewish values — tikkun olam, for example, and others.  She works with her teachers to integrate the Judaic studies into their mainstream lesson plans. The science students added an Israel component into their science fair. The English teacher is trained to read a proper discussion about the Elie Wiesel’s holocaust memoir, “Night.”
“Our goal is to get the students and families to see the value of living Jewish lives. It is not so much about what you and don’t do, but about understanding what it means to be Jewish,” says Gotin.
The students are picking that up. Amalya says knowing her heritage is important to her now and it makes her proud to be able to speak Hebrew with Israelis.
She says, “Knowing your heritage is like knowing a part of yourself.”

Continue reading on Examiner.com: The Day School at Baltimore Hebrew – See for Yourself! – Baltimore Jewish | Examiner.com [2] http://www.examiner.com/jewish-in-baltimore/the-day-school-at-baltimore-hebrew-see-for-yourself#ixzz1Gl3GDfCQ [2]