What you focus on, you get more of!

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Working with children, whether as parents or in the classroom, requires us to do deep work on ourselves.

Recently, I heard Becky Udman speak here at Slater Torah Academy and also heard from my sister Chani Reyder about how she is using the book "Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline" at home with her daughter. Becky Bailey, the author, is the founder of Conscious Discipline. I have been inspired to read more on Conscious Discipline and have finally got myself a copy of her book. I have not been disappointed.

Aside from validating how much self-control it takes on the parent/teachers end to teach self-control to our children and that it is a journey that takes time and hard work, she brings up some incredible mantras for educators to keep in mind.

One thing that stood out to me was the simple idea: "What you focus on, you get more of!". If you tell a toddler not to touch the lamp, oftentimes, all they hear is "touch the lamp". When this happens, they are very confused afterwards when you are upset at them for touching the lamp.

I also think that this connects very strongly to the saying of the third Chabad Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, "Tachshov tov, tihiyeh tov." "Think good and it will be good." When we focus on the positive in everything, that is the way it will be from our perspective, and the more we focus on positive, the more positivity we will invite into our lives.

First School Assembly

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This year, we are instituting assemblies which will take place on or close to the first of the new Jewish month. This date is known as Rosh Chodesh, the head of the month. During each assembly, we award students who came on time during the previous month with an attendance award which allows them to participate in a free dress day on a designated day the following month. We were so impressed with how many students received this award this past month. We also gave a shout out award to Daniel Toporek, a student who demonstrated exemplar behavior this month. In the coming months, this will be an opportunity to announce Honor Roll and the Principal's Honor Roll for students who excel.

During the assembly, Morah Lina's Ivrit class presented the first song of Tal Am they learned this year and Morah Nechama's class presented their class rules song.

Thank you to Susan Markovich for sponsoring the Rosh Chodesh treat for the month of Elul. If you would like to sponsor a Rosh Chodesh treat in honor of an upcoming birthday/Yartzheit, please let us know!

A Story of Rosh Hashana Integrated Learning

This is a story about how we do integrated learning in our classrooms. The Chickadees are learning so much about the upcoming holiday of Rosh Hashana while working on all their preschool skills. They don't even realize how much they are learning because they are having so much fun!

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Science

We completed a science exploration with apples. We cut the apples open and felt the different parts of the apples. We compared the taste of 3 different colors of apples and found out which apple was the favorite. We also counted the seeds and found out that the apples each had a different amount of seeds.

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Math

We are practicing our math skills using apple trees and apples for Rosh Hashana. We identify a number and then put that amount of apples on the tree.



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English Literacy

We are learning how to sort by two categories using upper and lower case Aa. The children divided the apples with lowercase and uppercase A's and put them in the correct basket.

Our book of the week is, “Time to Start a Brand New Year”.

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Hebrew Literacy

We squished honey around in a bag to find hidden Alephs, bees and apples. This was also a great sensory activity!



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Sensory

We added Shofars to the sensory table for additional Rosh Hashana exploration. We are practicing putting our hand over the top to blow so we don’t spread germs!


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Dramatic Play

We are continually adding Rosh Hashana objects to our drama center as we learn about them!




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Art

We are working on our honey apple plates for the Rosh Hashana table! We painted with bubble wrap for a honey comb affect!













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Social Emotional

While we tasted pomegranate seeds, we each got a chance to tell our friends what our favorite Mitzvot are! We are developing wonderful speaking and listening skills!

Conscious Discipline workshops

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We had a wonderful week of staff development and classroom set up before school started. The amount of work and intention the teachers put into creating beautiful and inspiring spaces for their students was unbelievable.

We were fortunate this year to partner with the Consortium of Jewish Day Schools to bring in Becky Udman, EC Director at Torah Day School of Dallas, TX. This was the second time we brought her out to give workshops on Conscious Discipline for our teachers.

She held workshops throughout the day for the whole staff team and then for Early Childhood/Elementary teachers separately. We were also lucky to have her give a workshop for parents in the evening.

We discovered breathing techniques for students to calm themselves down, greeting systems, songs, and other tools to building a safe and nurturing environment in the classroom.

Summer Construction

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As our school is growing, we need more classroom space! This summer, we transformed one of our classrooms into a space suitable for our growing Jewish Preschool of the Arts by installing sinks, cabinetry and opening it up to a bathroom.

We now also have two separate enrichment spaces dedicated for art, catapult learning and Ivrit, which have in the past been used for book rooms.

Our upstairs storage space has also been transformed over the summer improving its accessibility for teachers to utilize the many resources we have available.

This summer at Jewish Camp of the Arts

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Gymnastics, Tae Kwan Do, trips to Rock the Spectrum, swimming and so much more are part of what made this summer at Jewish Camp of the Arts an amazing experience for all the 0-2 year olds who were part of the program.

Under the leadership of teachers Amanda Moulton and Shelby Cazes, the students had a great time with open ended play, music and movement and crafts galore.

Each week, the children explored another topic area, from under the sea to transportation to outer space. We also loved being visited each day by Camp Gan Israel counselors who did a Jewish music circle with the little ones. We loved having the energy of the older children and counselors from Camp Gan Israel close by and with whom we shared many fun experiences.

Jewish Camp of the Arts will be open during winter break from Dec. 24th-31st for children ages 2-12 with a slew of programming including STEM and the Arts. For more information, email rchesney@torahacademynola.com.

Time Capsule 2008

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While organizing our upstairs storage space over the summer, a long hidden Time Capsule from the year 2008 was discovered. Amazingly, three of the four students who prepared the capsule have returned already as staff to Slater Torah Academy.

Here are some of the amazing things we found there:

1) A bill from the original SMART boards which have since been updated to touchscreen panels.

2) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, which it seems the students studied that year.

3) An A+ piece of writing by Mushka Rivkin.

4) A picture of Mushka Cohen (Rivkin), Chana Hellinger (Kaufmann), Mindy Lew and Devorah Leah Katz (Nemes).

5) A riddle written by one of the classmates.

6) The contact paper used matches the contact paper that was on one of Mrs. Nechama Kaufmann's filing cabinets.

Follow our Facebook page to see pictures and follow the journey of this amazing look back in time.

Welcome back to Slater Torah Academy

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The beginning of the school year is upon us! It is wonderful to see all of our students again after the summer break.

It is already our fourth year kicking of the beginning of school with a back to school BBQ following parent/student orientations and supply drop-off. We entered our 6th year in the new school building with almost 80 students enrolled!

What is new for this year?

*We are working with Junction Sports to provide high quality Physical Education for our students.

*New Chumash curriculum- A World within a Word, that will give students the skills needed to master their understanding of the vocabulary and grammar in the Torah.

*Electives program- students choose from a variety of subjects including keyboard, STEM, yoga and public speaking and then meet once a week to learn about their topic of choice.

*Early Childhood- New mobile activity centers including a grocery store and puppet theater.

*Science Lab on Wheels to benefit our students by providing hands on science learning.

*Additional Early Childhood classroom.

*Early bird club

*Monthly Rosh Chodesh assemblies

We have more new programs which are in the works that we hope to roll out this year. Stay tuned!

Our school theme this year is "An Attitude of Gratitude". Our goal is to bring the concept of gratitude into our school culture this year in a practical way. We will be connecting it to the Jewish concept of Tefillah, giving thanks to G-d for everything we have with a daily journal. Each class will also be introducing a gratitude practice and songs related to giving thanks. We hope that this theme will give our students skills to practice resilience in life when challenges come their way.

Naomi Smith & Rivkie Chesney

8th Graders give significant gift to children with cancer

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By: Slater Torah Academy 8th Grade

Last week, we, the 8th grade of Slater Torah Academy went on our graduation trip to Florida. We had many fun trips, like segwaying, biking on the beach and going to an escape room. In order to go on the trip, we had to raise money, and in the end we raised over $4000! We raised money through a variety of activities including hot lunches and participation in bake sales. After raising all this money, our chaperone, Mushka Kazen advised us to give some of the money to an organization called Chai Lifeline.

Chai Lifeline helps families who have a family member with cancer. Not only do they help that family member, but they make programs for the siblings and support groups for the parents.

On the second day of our trip, we went to the Chai Lifeline office in Florida. There, we met with the director of Chai Lifeline of the Southeast, and some of the other staff. We presented them with a check for $500. As we went on a mini-tour of the office, the director showed us closets full of toys that are sent out to the families helped by Chai Lifeline, and she spoke to us about some of the programs they do, including a camp for the sick children, and a camp for children with illnesses or needs that prevent them from going to a regular camp. This was a very special experience. The feeling you get when you take a large portion of money that you earned through a year of hard work, and then give it to such an amazing organization as Chai Lifeline is indescribable.  


ISRAELI GENERAL VISITS SLATER TORAH ACADEMY

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Bentzi Gruber is a Brigadier General in the Israeli Defense Force who oversees 20,000 soldiers.  He is founder of "Chesed in the Field," a non-profit that brings together IDF reservists and chronically ill and disabled children for special events throughout the year, instilling the values of community and social responsibility in the hearts of thousands of soldiers.  Gen. Gruber also established "Ethics in the Field" to shatter myths and present the facts missing in today's discussion of Israeli counter terrorism.

Bentzi Gruber addressed students of all ages at Slater Torah Academy this past Tuesday, as part of his trip to New Orleans for Amiel Bakehillah, a program sponsored by the Jewish Endowment Foundation in partnership with the Israeli Ministry of Diaspora affairs. 

Some students brought in photos of their relatives who have served in the IDF to show the general and to make the discussion more personal for our young students. 

We are grateful for this program that has brought many Israeli visitors to our school throughout the year including a chef, musician, artist and the head of United Hatzalah. These programs have helped bring a strong connection and pride to our students with Israeli culture and the land of Israel.

FIELD TRIP TO GROW DAT YOUTH FARM

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Grow Dat Youth Farm is a sustainable organic farm with the mission of teaching young people about growing healthy foods and making a difference for our environment. Our students visited Grow Dat on Lag Baomer. 

Students participated in two different programs. Our younger students participated in Birds and Bugs on the Bayou: Observing Organisms in Their Habitats. They learned about the benefits that various insects have for our environment. They observed bugs such as bees, ants and worms using magnifying glasses. 

Older students participated in Seed to Plate: The Story of Food. Students followed the journey of a vegetable that is currently in season on the farm. Throughout the field trip, hands-on experiences and photos invited student investigation into the differences between the industrial food system and sustainable farming at Grow Dat. They saw vegetables/fruit such as beets, lettuce, squash, carrots, potatoes, and clementines growing and were able to taste some of them. 

An interesting highlight for the students was learning about how horse manure is used at Grow Dat Youth Farm!

An Israeli Mother's Day

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This year, we had the unique opportunity to celebrate Mothers' Day and Israel Day together. Mothers and grandmothers were invited to school for a program marking this occasion.

The students performed songs for their mothers including the Hebrew song "Ima Yekara Sheli" (My special mother), and participated in baking a traditional Israeli cookie, Maamulim. Each family received their own ingredients to make a complete recipe. We played a trivia game about Israel called "Are you smarter than an Israeli mom?" where students at Slater Torah Academy competed with some of our moms from Israel answering questions like "What is the tallest mountain in Israel?" and "What currency is used in Israel?". 

At the end, we enjoyed an Israeli breakfast of salad, bagels and Shakshuka prepared by Lina Warshawski and Orit Naghi. 

D-Day Invasion Field Trip

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The World War 2 Museum here in New Orleans organized a virtual field trip on Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, marking 75 years since the D-day invasion. Schools from across the country joined a trip based out of the local landmark.

The field trip followed a few students as they traveled across the English Channel to Normandy, France following the path that 12 allied countries took when they invaded France on June 6, 1944. 

Our students were able to participate in answering poll questions and pose questions of our own. 

Teacher Appreciation Week

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This week, across the country, parents and schools showed gratitude to their hardworking teachers. At Slater Torah Academy, we planned a week of various gestures of thanks. 

Teacher appreciation week was kicked off with Starbucks coffee and personalized STA mugs from the school. The PTO provided breakfast for the staff on Tuesday and fruit on Wednesday. Students and parents were encouraged to write personal thank you cards and give a small token of appreciation on Wednesday and Thursday. 

Thank you to Orit Naghi, Ilanit Shargian, Sarah Nagar, Lina Warshawski and Rivkie Chesney for organizing this special week!

Project Based Learning about Passover

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While frontal teaching may have had its place many years ago, times have changed and we have learned as educators that the best way to engage students is through child centered activities. This new, child focused, way of teaching is one of the core values at Slater Torah Academy. 

As such, in getting ready for an important holiday like Passover, it was vital that the students were involved in a meaningful and personal manner. Elementary teachers worked with the students in their classes on individual and group projects. 

The students used information they learned in class from their teachers along with information gained from their online research to create individualized projects that demonstrated their new knowledge about Passover. Using chrome books to research online resources for project based learning is an invaluable skill that the students are learning.

Student projects included a snakes and ladder board game, a Passover Monopoly game, a video slideshow on the steps of the Seder, a jeopardy game and more! 

JPOA Students Experience Seder

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Jewish Preschool of the Arts students experienced a real Seder in school before the Passover break to get them ready for their own family Seders. Organized by their Judaic teachers and Morah Lina and led by Morah Libby Groner, the Seder was all about the children.

Pesach is a time where we focus on the children. The Mitzvah of Pesach is "V'higadeta L'vincha"- "And you should tell your children". The students at JPOA were well prepared having practiced and learned with their teachers in the weeks leading up to the Seder things like the Ma Nishtana, the 10 plagues and the steps of the Seder. 

We were proud to hear about our students who shared the Ma Nishtana beautifully with their families at the Seder and were able to follow along with the Hagaddah for Pesach. 

Chickadees Prepare for Pesach

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Dramatic play is an integral part of early childhood education. At Slater Torah Academy's Jewish Preschool of the Arts, we take dramatic play very seriously because we know that children learn best through play! Our JPOA classes change their dramatic play centers as the year progresses in order to teach important lessons through play. This type of play also empowers children, helping them to process and express their own thoughts about various experiences in their lives. Over the years, the Chickadees dramatic play center has been everything from a palace to a tent, a veterinarian office and a grocery store.

As the holiday of Pesach is around the corner, the Chickadees transformed their dramatic play center into a Matzah bakery complete with a special matzah oven, rolling pins, flour, water, aprons and hats. The students are having a great time baking their own Matzah. When they eat the Matzah at their Seders on Pesach, it will be an especially meaningful experience for them because of their experiences at Jewish Preschool of the Arts.

Super Sentences

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This week, 1st-2nd graders learned how to turn simple sentences into super sentences. The students tapped into their creative sides, brainstorming adjectives, verbs and details that would make a sentence shine. 

Together, the class used a writing guide and their ideas to create new amazing sentences. The students found the step-by-step process helpful and fun. They practiced writing exciting sentences about different subjects each day. Their favorite part of the day now is reading their super sentences aloud for their friends!!  

Students Excel in Worldwide Competition

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The Chidon is a worldwide competition which has students learning all 613 Mitzvos from the Torah over the course of 4th-8th grade. They study this information in depth. Any student who achieves an average above 70% is eligible for participating in a Shabbaton weekend in New York City. Five students at Slater Torah Academy participated in this program and joined this incredible weekend experience in New York. 

Three of our students received grades on the three tests they took over the past few months that ensured them a place on stage as a representative. 
Representatives took a difficult test to determine the winners of each grade level and then participated in a competitive game show in front of an audience of thousands of people.

A big congratulations to our very own Slater Torah Academy student, Mordechai Rivkin, who out of hundreds of other 4th graders, came in 3rd place, snagging the bronze trophy for his division in the Chidon! 

A big Mazal Tov goes to Morde Rivkin, Risha Nemes, Rochel Rivkin and Rivka Rivkin for participating in this amazing competition, many walking away with plaques and medals for their achievements.  

A Mitzvah with JFS

JFS is doing their 34th annual Passover Food Basket Distribution where they deliver bags and boxes to those in need in our community. Last year 130 deliveries to individuals and families either in nursing homes or living independently in the community were made. 

Slater Torah Academy students have been contributing handmade items towards these baskets for the past couple of years. 

This year, together with their art teacher, Ms. Denise Brown, the students decorated beautiful cloth Matzah covers, making almost 70 covers to send to people in need. 

One of our school's core values is about instilling values. The students put a lot of effort into these covers even though they were not going to be able to keep them. This enthusiasm by our students in the Mitzvah of Tzedakah is part of what makes our school such a special place.