New York State’s Common Core Standards and Regents requirements present a high-school student with quite a substantial workload. However, at Mesivta Ateres Yaakov, the overall sentiment has always been to challenge and engage students beyond the required standards, making for a well-rounded, preparatory high-school experience. This is primarily accomplished through the mesivta’s extensive elective course program, providing intriguing courses beyond the state-mandated benchmarks and standards.
“High-school general-studies education is primarily a preparation for college and a career,” commented general-studies principal Rabbi Sam Rudansky. “But, if I may paraphrase education reformer John Dewey, we can never lose sight of the reality that education is not only preparation for life, but, as well, a part of life itself.”
Amongst the elective opportunities offered to MAY students is the popular Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education (CIJE) sponsored pre-engineering program. This program is offered to ninth- and tenth-graders who have an aptitude for math and science, and have met certain benchmarks and criteria to enroll in this two-year course. The program culminates with an interschool engineering fair at which students present their innovative projects to hundreds of participants and educators.
“Our goal for our talmidim is quite clear from the start,” commented menahel Rabbi Mordechai Yaffe. “We communicate the same messages to our talmidim in the morning during limudei kodesh, and in the afternoon during general studies. Beginning with Shacharis in the morning and ending with the last general-studies class of the day, our consistent goal is to develop well-rounded b’nei Torah.”
As students progress and complete their state-mandated benchmarks, many additional elective opportunities become available, including a two-year computer science track, a two-year business and finance track, and numerous advanced placement courses.
Upperclassmen can avail themselves of offerings such as Jewish history, introduction to law, introduction to psychology, economics, and public speaking, through which three college credits can be earned in the twelfth grade. These courses complement between five and seven other advanced placement courses being offered and MAY’s Touro Freshman Center Program as well.