By Maayan Jaffe, Baltimore Jewish Examiner 
(Part III of a several-part series)
“The Shoshana S. Cardin School is not a large school, but it offers many opportunities,” said Jeff Zaleon, whose son, Avi, graduated from the Cardin School and whose daughter, Beth, is now a senior. “In a small school, kids will branch out and do things that they may not have done in a larger environment.”
Zaleon’s own son, for example, started the Cardin newspaper. He served as its first reporter and editor. Today, he is majoring in journalism at Indiana University.
“Had he been part of a large class at Owings Mills High School, he may not have even participated in journalism, let alone the started the paper,” said Zaleon.
Now, his daughter, Beth is feeling grateful, too. She just got into her dream school, University of North Carolina, and she attributes her easy success to Cardin.
“Cardin really helped me with the admissions process. Cardin gave me the opportunity to do so many different things that I would not have done at a bigger school,” Beth said. “I stepped up here and took on leadership roles.”
Likewise, Beth said she was able to submit stellar and strong letters of recommendation. Because her teachers know her really well, they were able to write about her from a personal perspective. They were also able to assist her with her essays.
“The faculty understands what it takes to get each student into his or her school of choice,” said teacher Bob Cantor. “Being at a small school makes it so we can accommodate students at any and every level. The students who are slated to go to Ivy League schools have their needs met as much as students who plan to go to more basic four-year colleges.”
While Beth is thrilled to leave for college, she said she has mixed emotions about leaving her friends. The friends you make at Cardin, she said, are “friends you keep forever.”
“Here I have true friends and we are really going to miss each other,” she said.
The main distinction between Cardin and the other local day schools is what has been termed its “pluralistic environment.” At Cardin, according to all who were interviewed for this article, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Jews of any other branch of Judaism feel equally comfortable.
“We all learn from each other. All of us have something to bring to the community,” said Cantor.
Added parent Judith Schagrin, “Here, all branches are respected.”
The common thread among the students at Cardin is comprised of two fabrics – Judaism and joy. The Judaism permeates everything the school does … and the students are infused with Jewish values they can take with them to college and onto life. The joy just is.
“There is a sense of joy that you find at Cardin,” said Schagrin. “There is a sense of spirit.”
“The school is spirited and fun,” said Cantor. “I have such a good time here. The kids make me laugh.”
Every Friday, Rabbi Stuart Seltzer, the school’s Dean of Judaic Studies, delivers cake to each of the school’s 52 students. They eat together and celebrate the coming of Shabbat. This is Miles Greenspoon and Benjamin Levine’s favorite part of their week. It is not about the food. It’s about the feeling of community, the satisfaction that comes from knowing that everyone from the principle to the janitor cares about their success.
“It’s a strong community, we know each other, we help each other, and we just have FUN!” said Beth.
“This is one of those rare places where everyone gets along,” said Greenspoon. “I would not want it any other way.”