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

Jewish Academy of Orlando provides robust whole-child education program

 

JAO's in-house school guidance counselor Danielle Glover talks with several students on their level.

"A whole-child approach to education is instrumental in raising well-adjusted children who have self-compassion, the confidence to take on new challenges, and the resilience to get back up and try again," said JAO's in-house school guidance counselor Danielle Glover about the Jewish Academy of Orlando's multi-faceted whole-child development program. Glover guides the school's whole-child development with regular classroom guidance sessions, one-on-one and small group counseling, and parent support.  

"My mission here at Jewish Academy is to support the students in their efforts as they learn and practice these skills to add to their social toolbox," she stated.

Classroom guidance sessions are designed to be developmentally focused with topics tailored to each class's needs, from personal space and being a good friend to preparing for middle school and setting goals. Each session utilizes a hands-on approach with role-playing of real world situations through group discussions. Various forms of media are often incorporated with each session, including engaging games and books.

After each classroom guidance session, Glover communicates the lesson to parents to facilitate reinforcement at home.

Glover also facilitates "Lunch Bunch" gatherings, informal mediation sessions that occur over lunch. These lunches allow Glover to help students navigate peer relationships and to provide conflict resolution in a non-threatening manner. Plus, because the sessions are deliberately impromptu, she is able to offer immediate intervention as problems arise. Lunch Bunch sessions also help Glover build rapport and connect with each student.

"My goal is for the students to do most of the talking.  That way, I can truly tailor the sessions to their needs," added Glover

Glover also provides one-on-one counseling to support individual students' needs. She partners with the student, educators, parents, and administration to ensure each child's needs are met.

"At Jewish Academy of Orlando, psycho-education, which is the interdisciplinary approach that unites educators, counselors and administration, is key to lay a strong foundation for social and emotional growth for all students," said head of school, Alan Rusonik. "The extreme pressure to achieve and perform is pervasive through society and social media. We use psycho-education to both build confidence and communication skills. These are two traits to build resilience in academic and social situations. We are grateful to Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando for supporting this effort."

Glover is also available to educators and parents on as needed for any concerns or questions that surface.

"In this day and age of when too many children at young ages are at a higher risk of depression, anxiety, and eating disorders, their emotional well-being now, more than ever, is crucial," said Glover. "By focusing on the whole child, our families don't have to make the choice between strong academics and emotional intelligence. At JAO, both are a key foci to preparing our students for the world."

In addition to Glover's involvement, the school's dedication to serving the whole child and supporting self-care include a 45-minute daily recess, daily morning break, extended lunches, and weekly yoga. These activities are designed to teach students self-care, teamwork, the benefits of brain breaks, and promotes socializing.

"At JAO, both academic excellence and a whole child focus make up the foundation of our core values," said Rusonik. "Educating prepared, confident, and happy children is our highest mark of success. We are grateful to have Danielle Glover on our team to support this effort."

Jewish Academy of Orlando serves central Florida students of all faiths from grades kindergarten through fifth. The school delivers a whole-child education fostering academic excellence and character education rooted in Jewish values. Jewish Academy of Orlando is accredited by the Florida Council of Independent Schools. Beginning in fall of 2019, the school will offer a transitional kindergarten.

To learn more about Jewish Academy of Orlando, please visit: jewishacademyorlando.org or follow the school on Facebook facebook.com/JewishAcademyOrlando.

 

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