Shulamith High School for Girls is set to be opening in September 2015, with Rina Zerykier as principal. She recently answered some questions to spread the word about the exciting plans.
Q: Who are you as an educator?
A: I spent the past 13 years teaching at the Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School. It was there that I cultivated my love for teaching teenagers and my dedication to academic excellence and student extracurricular programs. First and foremost, I am a teacher, and I know that great education starts with great teachers. I also believe that as educators, we have to constantly strive to improve. To read, to grow, to learn. Our world is constantly changing and we need to change with it.
I love what I do. I live, breathe, and dream about education. I am constantly searching for ways we can improve the school experience for our students. Philosophically, I believe education should be engaging and dynamic. Students should never be bored, but rather excited to come to school every day. We need to light the fire of intellectual curiosity and energy within our students. It is our job as educators to put that smile on their faces—to help them love and appreciate their role in Am Yisrael, their search for academic excellence, and to help them discover themselves.
Q: Why do we need a Shulamith high school?
A: Right now, Shulamith has a vibrant middle school founded on halachah, Torah, and an excellence in education. Our girls deserve a high school that provides the best in education, with a rich extracurricular life in a warm, frum, all-girls social network. Our girls will not engage in any co-ed extracurricular events, nor will they go to co-ed camps. Our community needs a school that is on the cutting edge of pedagogy and technology, with a social-emotional core that builds respect, modesty, confidence, and character. At Shulamith, we believe in educating the whole girl, from head to heart.
Q: Who is a Shulamith girl?
A: There is no one mold for a Shulamith girl. But at Shulamith, she will do everything.
She will quote Shakespeare, explicate Rashi, and dissect frogs.
She will learn to speak with confidence, poise, and grace.
She will practice kindness and sportsmanship.
She will perfect her hook shot, score a goal, cheer on her teammates, win with class, and lose with grace.
She will think critically, write and share her opinions in real-time in class on her iPad, and engage with technology responsibly.
She will attend the opera, experience the ballet, and appreciate the fine arts.
She will conduct herself with modesty, confidence, and grace.
She will strengthen her commitment to integrity, responsibility, and character.
She will appreciate our rich heritage and help advocate for Israel.
She will own her role in Klal Yisrael and learn to give back to her family, friends, and the larger Jewish community.
She will cherish the gift of Torah.
Q: Why is there such an emphasis on extracurricular activities?
A: We believe that those programs help us realize our mission. Our goal is to educate the whole girl from head to heart, working with a social-emotional curriculum that promotes empowerment, confidence, character, and self-respect.
Q: What do you expect girls to do with a Shulamith diploma?
A: Our goal is to inspire our students to find their paths. We will give her the tools to pursue whatever career she chooses. We want every Shulamith girl to be committed to Judaism, to love Torah, to be a daughter, sister, friend, giver, community member, and one day, a wife and a mother. We encourage each student to find her spark, her tzelem Elokim, that will light up the world.
Q: I noticed that you wrote under the logo, “Shulamith High School: Education Redefined.” What do you mean by that?
A: That’s a tough concept to define in one sentence. “Education Redefined” means that we are not afraid to be new. We are excited to be able to reinvent. Over the past year, I have visited many schools in New York, from prep schools to Jewish day schools, and have culled some of the best educational practices to bring to our school. To that end, our classes should be creative, student-centered, and differentiated. Education does not end in the classroom, rather it continues beyond the bell. At Shulamith, we have a multi-layered approach to education, from the fine arts and public speaking to STEM and Shakespeare theater.
Q: Who are your teachers?
A: Our teachers will create magic. They are creative and dynamic educators who are looking to cultivate lifelong learners. I have reviewed hundreds of résumés, and I seek to hire only superstars. Starting a new school is a unique opportunity. We have the opportunity to choose fresh, dedicated teachers who will define a culture of warmth and intellectual growth. They will create classroom environments that are student-centered, challenging, academic, exciting, and innovative.
Q: You have a one-to-one iPad initiative. Can you tell me a little bit about what place iPads have in the classroom?
A: Technology plays a seamless role in our lives. Therefore, we need to teach our girls to use technology responsibly and productively. Our one-to-one iPad initiative is not just a gimmick. The students will be hands-on with technology, explore the skeletal system in biology, create an iMovie in Spanish, and vote in real time on an amendment in global studies.
On a practical level, using an iPad is much easier than trudging around with heavy textbooks and binders. In addition, it allows students to creatively engage with the text. Instead of rapidly copying notes off the board, they can simply snap a picture and highlight their comments.
Our technology initiative is just another example of how we are on the cutting edge of education.
Q: Can you describe what you envision as a typical day at Shulamith?
A: We would start our day with tefillah together. I believe students should discuss, explore, and analyze the tefillah before davening so that they could appreciate the relationship that we have with Hashem. During classes, a visitor could hear students debating in Ivrit and watch as they discovered the Industrial Revolution through a museum gallery setting in global studies. The spark of curiosity and intellectual energy would be tangible.
During our regular schedule, even lunch is redefined. Lunch is filled with opportunities to engage in programs such as lunch and lit, witness theater, and debate.
We all love change and excitement. There are so many opportunities to grow and learn. We also have so many programs planned throughout the year. Our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fair, book day, history day, witness theater, and Yom HaAtzmaut program are just a few! To hear more, come to our open house on November 2, at the Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst at 1:00 p.m.