Two educations in One
Aleph Bet provides a challenging Jewish and secular education to its students. The faculty is committed to meeting the highest standards of general education, conforming to and exceeding all state guidelines for academic achievement, while also providing a solid foundation in Judaic learning and Judaic cultural education. From the kindergarteners to the fifth graders, students begin the day with a 30 minute egalitarian t’filah (prayer) service. During the day, students receive approximately 90 minutes of instruction in a combination of Hebrew language and Judaic studies. Aleph Bet students study Torah, t’filah, customs, values, and the Hebrew language, developing communication and comprehension skills that will allow the students to participate fully in prayer services and Jewish holidays, read Hebrew texts- both religious and secular- and converse in the classroom and beyond. Yet, the study of Torah, t’filah, and mitzvot is organized to help our students realize that their being Jewish is not separate from their being American, but is interconnected and complementary. The remaining two-thirds of their day is spent in the study of language arts, mathematics, science and social studies.
Aleph Bet holds accreditation from the Association of Independent Maryland Schools (AIMS) and its curriculum consists of all of the traditional elementary school subjects. Small class size enables teachers to tailor the curriculum to meet the needs of each individual student
Our integrated language arts program is designed to develop readers and thinkers who are curious about their world and have the skills to locate, discuss and evaluate answers to the questions they raise. A comprehensive literature anthology series, shared novels, and supplementary skill instructional materials develop in students the ability to interpret and analyze what they read, mastery of standard written and spoken grammar, and familiarity with spelling patterns and conventions. Curriculum based assignments allow students to explore the writing process and adapt their writing to varied audiences and purposes: second grade “pioneers” write letters home about the hardships of the trail and the beauty of the vast prairies; third graders write cinquain poems about Joseph’s dreams, and fifth graders request start up loans from parents and teachers for their school store.
Our math program teaches students mathematical thinking and problem solving skills that are essential to daily life. The spiral curriculum introduces basic math concepts and skills in kindergarten and then builds and expands upon that foundation in each succeeding year. Manipulative materials are used in each grade to introduce and reinforce mathematical concepts. Our teachers encourage and guide our students in applying their math skills to real life, whether measuring soil and water for science experiments or determining which type of paper clip offers the best value for cost when marking pages in the first graders’ new prayer books.
At Aleph Bet, social studies include the study of history, geography, culture, political systems, and economics. The framework for Aleph Bet students’ study of the lands and peoples of the world expands as the students mature, beginning with a view of self and broadening to include family, neighborhood, community, state, nation and globe. Hands-on learning complements written texts. Students simulate life as settlers in a new colony, working out the division of roles and resources. Students learn from guest speakers, such as a sailor who brings navigational equipment and illuminates the challenges faced by the early explorers. Students learn from field trips as well, visiting St. Mary’s City, the Maryland State House, the Annapolis City Council chambers, and other places as diverse as a clothing factory or the Solomon’s Island Maritime Museum.
Whether observing root growth, keeping a journal of the daily development of baby rabbits, comparing decomposition rates of different types of litter, or observing single-celled organisms under a microscope, Aleph Bet students’ exploration of life, earth and physical science begins with direct experience. Students receive opportunities and models for scientific behavior, including hypothesis formulation, experimental design, data collection, presentation, and analysis and drawing of conclusions. Using the scientific method, each grade focuses on a few topics, building on the knowledge and experience gained at earlier levels. Classroom computers in all grade levels enhance instruction in all subjects and allow students to develop skills to meet the demands of our increasingly technological society, and permit teachers to address individual needs more effectively. In addition, students receive instruction in desktop publishing, word processing, the use and creation of spreadsheets and multimedia presentations.
Beginning in kindergarten, students learn the contours of the Jewish year—celebrating its festivals, studying the texts that punctuate and guide Jewish observance, and finding in its customs ways to connect with their history and their future. As students explore the foundations of Jewish thought and belief, they sharpen their critical thinking skills, engage in spirited discussions, and discover implications in their own lives. The Hebrew language is incorporated into the daily life of students at Aleph Bet so that they will develop an understanding of Hebrew as a living language that binds them with the land of Israel and with Jews throughout the world. In addition, Judaic studies classes offer the opportunity for students to practice skills learned in general studies writing, history and geography classes.
Aleph Bet enriches the whole child by providing instruction in physical education, art, and music. These classes address children’s individual talents and the varied ways they learn and
they enable our teachers to integrate the curriculum in a creative way. A variety of individual and team activities in P.E. promote both fun and the development of skills, fitness, teamwork, confidence and cooperation. Students learn concepts of winning and losing, sportsmanship and fair play. Art classes encourage students to develop personal styles of expression. In addition, the curriculum introduces students to the work of masters such as Chagall and Picasso. Students use a variety of media, creating not only paintings but also crafts related to their other classroom subjects. Music classes allow students to explore a variety of sound and rhythm, beginning with whole body action, guided listening, and choral singing. As students mature, they learn how to read music and play instruments such as the recorder and the keyboard.