On Tuesday, September 8, when Shulamith High School for Girls opened its doors to students at its new campus for the first time, Mrs. Rina Zerykier, the principal, reminded everyone that although scores of administrators, faculty, and contractors had spent the previous weeks scurrying through the hallways, putting the finishing touches on the school’s magnificent new home at 305 Cedarhurst Avenue, the school would be established only when its inaugural class of students stepped inside.
After a heartfelt recitation of Shehecheyanu, that moment finally arrived. The excitement in the hallways was palpable as students and faculty got their first glimpse of their new high school. “It’s amazing,” remarked freshman student Hana Adler. “All the work and effort really show.”
“Even our triangular desks and our dining-room table,” added freshman Ella Lax, “are fun and student-centered.”
The excitement built throughout the day, as students logged on to their school iPads (part of Shulamith’s 1:1 iPad initiative), got to know one another through exciting team-building activities.
A week before this momentous occasion, Shulamith’s teachers gathered for three days of intensive faculty orientation. This orientation was focused on conveying Shulamith HS’s educational mission: to foster a deep commitment to and love for Torah, to inspire intellectual curiosity through a collaborative and creative learning process, and to educate its students “from head to heart.” Sessions challenged teachers to define the essential questions underlying their course material and to re-imagine and refine their lesson plans to foster student participation and active engagement.
Reflecting on the experience, one teacher remarked, “The opportunity to sit together as teachers and brainstorm how to make our lessons not only informative but also relatable will make us more effective and connected educators throughout the year, and will develop our school into a place of both learning and growth.”
These lesson plans came to life in week one, as students dived in to Shulamith HS’s broad array of courses and extracurricular activities. The range of classes, from halachah to STEM, from public-speaking to yoga, pushed students to think and engage in new ways. Rather than sitting through lectures, students benefited from the many innovative educational techniques that are implemented regularly within the walls of Shulamith High School. They partook in “Gallery Walks,” wrote questions for their class “Parking Lots,” took notes on their iPads in Notability, and participated in “ChalkTalks.”
Outside of the classroom, extracurricular activities such as tennis, chesed, fashion design, and iMovie (wherein students learn to create movies on their iPads) enable students to pursue their passions and explore new interests. These opportunities will only continue to expand in upcoming weeks, as students embark on their first STEM trip to Google’s NYC offices, and their first of many cultural excursions to see the NYC Ballet at Lincoln Center.
In building the new Shulamith HS school, students and faculty feel that they are a part of a larger mission to create a truly unique educational institution–one that is at once deeply committed to Torah, academic excellence, and guiding each student towards becoming her best self.