As part of one of our most important prayers—the sh’ma—we say, “v’shinantam l’vanecha v’dibarta bam”—“And you shall teach (these words) diligently to your children.” Notably, this prayer does not urge us to teach these words to some of our children, or to some better than others. All of our children are included in this imperative, and as a community, we are tasked with ensuring that every child has access to these words.

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As Noah Daniel wrote in an issue of Prizmah, Judaism is a religion that rejects the idea of knowledge as a hierarchy and believes that to educate is to show both ahava (love) and kavod (respect). At JCDS, we strive to do this through cultivating environments that are inclusive, accessible and rooted in rachmanut (compassion).

Because of our mission to teach the whole child, we work collaboratively as a full faculty to analyze the needs of every student and provide each student with what they need in order to access our rigorous curriculum and grow in their own learning. Utilizing a research- and evidence-based approach to differentiation and intervention, we collaborate with teachers and support them in understanding the children in our classrooms from every angle. Our support specialists design instruction collaboratively, push into classrooms to work alongside our classroom teachers, and we work with students in small groups to ensure we are meeting students’ needs.

A current JCDS parent shared: “As a parent benefiting from the incredible support services at JCDS, we feel that the support team is, by far, one of the strongest aspects of the school. Kids are met where they are. Learning is customized to their strengths, enabling them to build confidence and contribute to the classroom alongside their peers—while at the same time, providing outstanding support in areas where they need special attention. We are also impressed that this area of the school is constantly improving—showing commitment on behalf of the school to embrace kids on all points of the learning spectrum.” 

We consider it an honor to be part of our students’ educational journeys, and we celebrate neurodiversity as an important dimension of the pluralism that makes our community so unique and special for so many.

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Lauren Panzano is director of support services at JCDS.

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