Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Jewish Academy of Orlando opens its doors to students of all faiths


January 19, 2018

The future looks bright for these Jewish Academy kindergarteners.

Just as it celebrates its 40th anniversary, the Jewish Academy of Orlando will open enrollment to students of all faiths offering the benefits of the independent school's academic and cultural excellence to the broader community.

Beginning in the January 2018-2019 term, enrollment will be open to families of all faiths and who seeks the independent school's STEM-focused initiatives. The Jewish Academy of Orlando is recognized for its service learning culture, smaller classrooms and personalized education.

Discussion about open enrollment began last summer among the school's Board, and for four months the board members talked with parents and community leaders about becoming inclusive.

"We did our homework," said Head of School Alan Rusonik. He further explained that Jewish Day schools across the country have open enrollment and follow either a dual track curriculum, in which students can select a purely academic curriculum, or one track, in which all the students take all the same classes. The board agreed unanimously to be one track.

Rusonik told Heritage that this in no way affects or changes the mission, vision or values of the school. "They will remain the same-to provide academic excellence within a culture of Jewish values. Our goal is to produce excellent students who are filled with self-confidence and are comfortable with their Jewish identities."

"Our approach to education includes passion, mindfulness, pride, connecting and leadership-very clear objectives that are incorporated into our powerful curriculum," said Board member Robyn Eichenholz. "Opening enrollment to all families is inspired by the increasing parental demand we have experienced in recent years. And in this day and age, it just makes sense to be more inclusive."

The Jewish Academy of Orlando has placed significant focus on STEM-initiatives including robotics, coding, and technology-engagement, and in an environment where students have significant hands-on learning from a highly skilled faculty. In addition to the school's dual language curriculum that includes Hebrew, the school has a state of the art television studio and comprehensive media center.

Considered one of Maitland's hidden gems, the Jewish Academy of Orlando is well-known for its high academic standards and student achievements. Two years ago, the school was recognized as one of the first in Orange County to provide kindergarten students with iPads as part of the Academy's sophisticated learning environment. Classes include individually issued laptops to students in fourth and fifth grades, classroom sets of video iPods, and interactive Smart TVs in every classroom. Instructors utilize iPad educational applications to support curriculum in reading, math and science as well as for language instruction including and Hebrew.

"We incorporated academic lessons with advanced technology into the classroom long before any other school because it's critical that students are digital natives. We know it's important to harness that intelligence as early as possible," said Rusonik. "Our curriculum is powerful because it deliberately prepares students to be successful in middle and high school and ultimately their entire learning future."

To learn more about our school, please attend out Open House on Thursday, February 1st at 6:30 p.m.

For more information about the Jewish Academy of Orlando or to arrange a tour, please contact Admissions Coordinator Amy Polacek at apolacek@myjao.org or 407-647-0713.

The Jewish Academy of Orlando is located at 851 N. Maitland Avenue in Maitland Florida. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.jewishacademyorlando.org.


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