Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County Becomes First Jewish Day School in Tristate to become an International Baccalaureate World School

The nationally accredited Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County (SSDS) has become the first Jewish day school in the tristate area to be officially authorized as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School for the Middle Years Programme (MYP).

Located nine miles west of New York City in Bergen County, the three’s through eighth grade school joins a short list of three Jewish schools in North America and six public and private secular schools in the State of New Jersey to have achieved this prestigious accreditation.

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Founded by a group of Swiss educators in the 1960’s, the IB was envisioned to create diploma programs that would be accepted by the world’s leading universities. There are more than 5,000 IB World schools with authorized primary, middle, high-school or career-related programs throughout the Americas, Europe, and Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

Since that time, the internationally renowned program has emerged as a globally-minded, rigorous framework centered on challenging students to make authentic, real-world connections in every subject with trained faculty who incorporate higher-level concepts in each unit of study they plan. It also provides consistent and robust methods for teachers to track student progress from year to year and across subjects and grade levels so they may better guide an individual’s academic journey.

At a time when early adolescents are establishing their identity and building their self-esteem, the IB Middle Years Programme helps students develop a range of skills surrounding communication, social interaction, self-management, research, and critical thinking – each of which are drivers for achieving success in school and in life beyond the classroom.

Schechter is also the first Jewish day school to take the IB Middle Years Programme one step further: It tailored this gold-standard educational framework to its Judaic studies curriculum, creating a uniquely Jewish experience for students to connect their Jewish learning and values to the world around them and to turn their learning into action. The school chose the IB because it offers a powerful lens through which general studies and Jewish text, traditions and Hebrew language can be better integrated and taught.

Schechter’s new IB status, the expansion of its STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) and Design Thinking curriculum, and the highly anticipated September 2018 opening of a fabrication lab featuring emerging technology and traditional hands-on tools, will empower students to develop into globally minded future Jewish leaders and life-long learners.

As IB learners, students apply the integrated concepts they learn across all subject areas, and use their minds, hands and hearts to solve real-world problems as they grow in and beyond the classroom. They will be guided along a path that will lead them to the knowledge, critical thinking, strong moral compass, and hands-on tools to dream, build, test, fail, and try again with the goal of performing Tikkun Olam, in Hebrew, repairing the world.

Schechter’s “Jewish IB program” has grabbed the attention, curiosity, and admiration of philanthropic foundations, with its authorization being highlighted this week before some 100 Jewish educators attending the Jewish Education Innovation Challenge Conference in Washington, D.C., where Schechter’s Head of School Ruth Gafni and IB Coordinator Ingrid Goldfein will be presenters.  

The IB journey began in 2014, when the school sought to re-imagine education infused with Jewish values for a rapidly changing world.  Teachers wanted a dynamic framework to support Schechter’s inquiry-based approach, and through which to teach students to embrace international mindedness, to think creatively and act collaboratively, and to become Or LaGoyim – in Hebrew, a light among the nations. This model inspires students to internalize their Jewish values, encourages teachers to create an atmosphere of global learning, and makes the study of ancient Jewish texts more relevant.


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