Our daughter, Ariela, arrived at KSA not knowing a single child in her class.
She had previously been at JCDSRI, and each of her Providence classmates had chosen a middle school from among the variety of public and private school options closer to home. As her friends made their transitions to sixth grade together (JCDS ends after the fifth grade), Ariela attended an Israeli secular school; our family had decided to spend a year in central Israel, not far from Tel Aviv. Though a rich experience, to be sure, coming to KSA on that first day — her second consecutive year walking into a class knowing no one — was daunting. This backdrop makes the ensuing experience that much more remarkable.
Perhaps I could begin and end this homage to KSA by saying that my daughter’s best years in school, thus-far, were in middle school.
Whose best years are in middle school?! Somehow, the kids at KSA seemed to have missed the memo. These kids did not receive the instruction manual which outlines the common tortured responses to their awkward transition to young adulthood. Remarkably, as the mix of hormones, the increasing demands of teachers and parents, the exacting toll of middle-school conformity and community all conspire to overwhelm even the best-prepared pre-teens, KSA creates an environment that explicitly acknowledges these challenges and meets them head-on.
With respect, extraordinary openness and dedication to teaching critical life skills in addition to academic skills, KSA empowers kids to confront life’s challenges, to build and sustain community, and to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of others. Students at KSA learn organizational skills, cooperative skills, and self-reliance. They learn how to step up, step back, stand up for themselves, and stand up for others.
Ari is now a freshman at Classical High School in Providence. Recently, at a parent-teacher conference, her English teacher marveled aloud at the quality of Ari’s written work. She reported that throughout recent years, the only students to arrive in her classroom with such strong skills had graduated from KSA.
This came as no surprise.
By teaching the whole child (in addition to the whole class/community), KSA magnifies its dual curriculum (General Studies/Jewish Studies) and further leverages the academic accomplishments of its students.
Ari’s first day in middle school was, indeed, daunting. And, KSA created an environment in which she learned on that day, and on each subsequent day, that she had the wherewithal to meet life’s many challenges. In doing so, KSA accomplished far more than educating our daughter; the KSA community helped us to create a solid foundation for Ari, upon which she is far more likely to thrive in high school, and beyond.
For that, we are endlessly grateful.
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