WE’VE CHANGED OUR NAME!

I am excited to announce that we have changed the name of our organization from “the Hebrew Charter School Center” to the much simpler [drum roll…]: “Hebrew Public.”  We are also adopting a new tagline: “Charter Schools for Global Citizens.”

A bit of background on the change:

When our organization was created back in 2009, our corporate name was actually “The National Center for Hebrew Language Charter School Excellence and Development, Inc.”  That mouthful was immediately shortened to “Hebrew Charter School Center,” which was used through the end of 2015.  Now, as we move into our next phase of growth, we have become Hebrew Public.

It was important for us to do this.  We are a network of public schools serving children from all backgrounds, but people would often react to our name and ask: Do your schools teach religion? Aren’t your schools private? Are they only for Jewish students?  [Answers: No, No, and No.]

Beginning in the spring of 2015, we engaged a branding firm to guide us through a thorough self-examination process, then intense brainstorming that resulted in more than 200 naming ideas, and finally through a public vetting process involving people from all walks of life, including teachers, parents, journalists, supporters, and many others. In the end, Hebrew Public won favor with a marked majority of respondents, and the Board voted to approve the change in December. In the coming months we will be rolling out this new name and a sharper, more compelling visual identity, incorporating the new logo you see on this page.

Stay tuned!

Jon Rosenberg
President and CEO

STEM GRANT FOR SELA

The Emanuel J. Friedman Philanthropies, Sidney M. & Phyllis O. Bresler Foundation, and other partners have awarded Sela, our school in Washington, D.C., a two-year, $300,000 grant for its STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) program.

The grant comes at a perfect time for Sela, which is well-placed to expand its STEM program and prepare students for careers that require math and science, collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving. Sela’s STEM program is considered unique in the Washington D.C. area because of the school’s English/Hebrew instruction model that includes an emphasis on the culture and history of Israel.

Learning from Israel’s high tech and entrepreneurial culture is a great way to provide students with a model of creativity and innovation. Our connection to Israeli start-up culture naturally aligns with our teaching philosophy.

The grant will also help Sela incorporate several components in its growing STEM program; among them:

  • Classroom Integration:  Through a variety of lessons, students will use Chromebooks, digital cameras, digital video cameras, and a wide range of software programs.  Teachers will participate in professional development programs to foster their knowledge of technology.
  • Stations in the STEM Room:  Students will engage in the project-based learning activities at a variety of stations facilitated by the Interdisciplinary-Innovation Coordinator Consultant, STEM fellow, and/or teachers (such as a weather station, mechanical station, 3D printing station, etc.).
  • LEGO Robotics:  Students will enjoy designing and programming robotics projects that feature LEGO® MINDSTORMS® during after school enrichment classes.
  • STEM Projects: Students in grades K-2 will collaborate to complete STEM projects each semester that they will present to Sela students, staff, families, and community members.
  • Mobile Computer Lab:  Students in grades K-2 will participate in computer skills courses.  Students will learn how to keyboard, create word processing documents, building spreadsheets, create Glogsters and Wiki pages, conduct online research, and build multimedia projects.

Targeted funding such as that provided by this grant is immensely helpful to us as we continue to build our national network of schools – where exemplary, multifaceted education – in Hebrew and English – is always priority No. 1.

Jon Rosenberg President & CEO

 

ANOTHER NETWORK MILESTONE

We recently learned that the first two schools in our network – Hebrew Language Academy in Brooklyn, and Hatikvah International Academy in East Brunswick, N.J., which opened in 2009 and 2010 respectively – have been approved to open our first middle schools! Each school will welcome its first class of Sixth-graders this fall, with current Fifth-graders at those schools moving up into their next phase of education. It’s hard to put into words how proud that makes me, and everyone here at the Hebrew Charter School Center – not to mention all the hardworking teachers, school administrators, and the volunteer leadership at those schools who helped make this new network milestone a reality.

The fact that the States of New York and New Jersey have granted their approval to our schools is a huge deal for us.  More important, it’s a huge deal for the children and families of our schools, who are now assured their children will benefit from the fully-realized plan to have their children receive exemplary, dual-language education for their first nine, formative years of public education. It also gives a boost of much-deserved confidence to the rest of our schools around the country (Harlem, Washington, DC, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis), the younger “siblings” in our national family.

We have so much for which to be grateful and so many to thank – everyone I just mentioned above – plus the generous supporters out there who believe in our mission and have demonstrated their commitment to this movement.

To you all, from all of us here at HCSC:  Kol Hakavod and Todah Rabah!

Jon Rosenberg President & CEO

SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT

Fourteen months ago, I joined the Hebrew Charter School Center as its first CEO and president. During that time, I have been asked versions of the following questions dozens if not hundreds of times.

Question #1: “Hebrew charter schools?  How can a public charter school be a religious school?”

Answer: It can’t and it isn’t.

The Hebrew Charter School Center’s network schools are public, nonsectarian, and serve students from a wide array of religious and non-religious backgrounds.

In a way, the confusion is understandable. Hebrew is a language that is closely associated with Judaism and the Jewish people. At the same time, Modern Hebrew (which we teach in our schools) is a secular language spoken daily by millions of people. Our Modern Hebrew dual language public charter schools are not Jewish religious schools. New York City’s Greek dual language public charter school is not a Greek Orthodox religious school, French dual language public schools are not Catholic schools, and the growing number of Mandarin dual language public schools are not Buddhist religious schools.

Question #2: “Hebrew charter schools? So those are just for Jewish kids, right?”

Answer: Wrong – our schools are for everyone, and serve as models of integration and diversity.

In many of our country’s school districts, including its largest (New York City) racial and economic isolation is a fact in the majority of public district schools. And in many district schools that appear to be integrated based on their total school enrollment, they are segregated at a classroom level, with significant racial and economic disparities in student assignment to gifted classes and self-contained special education classes. By contrast, the schools in the Hebrew Charter School Center’s network, including both of our schools in New York City, explicitly make racial and economic integration a goal – and have succeeded in creating integrated school environments. By way of example, Harlem Hebrew’s demographics are: 36% black, 20% Latino, 40% white, 4% multiracial, 53% students eligible for free/reduced price lunch, 21% students with special needs, and 12% English language learners. Our network, in turn, is a member of the National Coalition for Diverse Charter Schools (www.diversecharters.org) – a growing movement that sees charter schools not only as potential hubs of excellence and innovation but as a powerful means of creating integrated schools in places where segregation persists.

Of course, the best way to set the record straight about our work is to see our it in action. To arrange a visit to one of our network schools in Harlem, Brooklyn, New Jersey, Washington DC, Los Angeles, or San Diego, please email us at info@hebrewcharters.org.

Jon Rosenberg President & CEO

WHAT A GREAT YEAR!

When I joined the team here last January as the Hebrew Charter School Center’s first President & CEO, I knew we had an incredibly strong foundation on which to build.  In the few short years since we began building this American network of dual-language Hebrew charter schools, the cumulative progress made is hard to ignore:
  • 1,253 children are now learning in our six schools across the country, in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.
  • Our schools are wonderfully diverse, with students from a wide array of racial, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • Hundreds of children are speaking, reading, and writing Modern Hebrew with great proficiency – something that always brings smiles of delight to the faces of native Hebrew speakers who visit our schools.
  • Our students’ academic performance continues to be very strong, as shown in the most recent round of state tests in NY and NJ.
  • 90 new HCSC alumni – our very first graduating classes from Hebrew Language Academy and Hatikvah – are now in middle schools, and we are working to stay closely connected to them as they grow into ambassadors for the HCSC mission.

During the course of 2014, we helped open Lashon Academy in Los Angeles, and began working with Agamim Academy in Minneapolis, which will open in 2015.  We have added three terrific new Board members: Simone Friedman, Caroline Greenwald and Adam Smolyar. We also had quite a year in fundraising:  our March Aladdin and September “Autumnfest” events were great successes, together raising more than $800,000.  (For a fuller description of our work, please check out our new President’s Report) 

All of us here look with genuine pride at the work that is done by our teachers and school leaders every day in Brooklyn, in Harlem, in DC, in San Diego, in East Brunswick, and in Los Angeles.  I am confident that we will make more contributions in the years to come, as we become an increasingly important presence in the worlds of dual-language instruction, diverse schooling, Israel and global studies, and charter schools.

Jon Rosenberg, President & CEO

THE NUMBERS ARE IN…

The new admissions lotteries are now complete for the 2014-15 school year. Congratulations to all the children accepted to HCSC schools!  Because there isn’t space for all the children whose families would like their kids to attend our schools, we have waiting lists – which are growing each year.  We wish we had enough seats to serve all of these interested students and families, but are truly grateful for their interest and the demand it represents for the great programs provided by our network of schools.

In 2014-15, our schools will include Hebrew Language Academy in Brooklyn (serving grades K-5); Hatikvah International Academy in East Brunswick, N.J. (serving grades K-5); Harlem Hebrew (serving grades K-2); Sela Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. (serving grades Pre-K-2); Kavod Elementary in San Diego (serving grades K-3); and Lashon Academy in Los Angeles (serving grades K-2). Across these schools, we received 1,894 applications for 583 available spaces.

Not only is there great demand for our schools, but they continue to attract a truly global diversity of students and families.  In our five currently operating schools, the parents of our students come from 78 different nations, and more than 25 different languages are spoken in our students’ homes.  We celebrate this diversity every day.

With these new admissions, nearly 1,300 students will be enrolled in our network of schools during 2014-15, representing a 50 percent increase over the current school year.  And we look forward to even greater growth – and amazing student outcomes – in the years ahead.

Jon Rosenberg

President and CEO, HCSC