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Last week I asked Bryna Leider, Founding Director of the Luria Academy of Brooklyn, to respond to the 2/5/13 The Jewish Week article about the growing enrollment numbers that were reported by leaders of the Jewish Montessori Society – a whopping 75% in 8 of its largest member schools nationwide. (SC)
Our school statistics were part of the study. We have gone from 7 students to 107 in 6 years, so the results clearly apply to us. I don’t think there is a single factor that contributed to our rapid growth. I think we are in a neighborhood that is growing in popularity for young Jewish families and more are moving here now that there is a school. We also have families traveling to us from other neighborhoods because we are a different kind of Jewish day school. Some are specifically looking for a Montessori environment; others are looking for a progressive, alternative, or differentiated environment.
Most families find us through friends. We have historically focused on making sure the physical space, quality of teachers and instruction and general atmosphere are the best that they can possibly be. Happy parents then spread the word better than any advertising campaign. We try to maintain a very clear and informative website as that is usually the next place families go to. We give individual school tours so that we can spend time with each family that contacts us.
Right now, we are still a new school. We are adding a grade every year, which creates a natural enrollment boost. Next year we will add some parallel classes as well. I think the challenge is what will happen in three to five years. Decisions will eventually be made about how large the school will become; I would expect the numbers to level off at a certain point.
Early childhood directors and educators visited The Luria Academy on December 5, 2012 as part of the In-site-ful Journeys project. Click here to see resources gathered after the visit to support learning more about the Jewish Montessori approach. Click here for a video about the Luria Academy beginnings.
Susan Remick Topek
A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit a Jewish Montessori preschool in Atlanta. This was my first time really observing and carefully listening to a Montessori class, and certainly a first for a Jewish Montessori class! I have friends in Stony Brook who sent their children to the Montessori school in the area and through the years we had discussed AT LENGTH why it worked for one of her children and not the other. But being in Atlanta, and seeing the children and the teachers in the school setting, I was able to understand the educational goals more clearly. I also saw an integration of Jewish and Montessori in action. I’ve been interested it ever since.
Fast forward to the Luria Academy. This is my second visit and I have learned so much more about a Montessori education (Atlanta was a catalyst for ongoing learning and resources). I have grown as an educator, a Jewish educator and as an early childhood educator. Walking into Luria was a calming and comfortable experience. The environment is peaceful. The children and faculty are welcoming- the culture and the value of Montessori and Judaism is present throughout the entire building.
Now conversations about the Montessori approach have been started between colleagues, and there’s an excitement and openness from being there, and I for one, was so glad to be a part of it!
To see pictures from our visit to the Luria Academy, click here.