Students in grades pre-first through fifth visit the library weekly, for formal library skills instruction and for literature appreciation and analysis. Middle school classes visit the library on an as-needed basis and are free to coordinate unit themes, major research projects, and book reports with the librarian, so she can be sure to prepare relevant materials for the students. All teachers are surveyed each year as to how the library can provide the best resources and support services to help them accomplish their goals. The librarian also teaches library-skills in conjunction with major research projects so they are immediately useful. These skills include but are not limited to: Using the library catalog, Finding a book on the shelf, Using indexes, encyclopedias, and specialized reference tools such as atlases, Using multi-media, including websites, electronic encyclopedias, and other programs, Documenting sources and creating works-cited pages.
A formal approach to library skills is implemented in grades two through five. Our library has two cataloging schemes—Dewey/Sears, for general studies resources, and Lazar, for Torah resources. The goal of library-skills instruction is to help students learn that all libraries are organized with similar, although not identical, rationales. Ultimately, all students should have enough mastery to locate an automated library catalog and to find a title on the shelf without a librarian’s help. As in other areas of library skills, the goal is for increased student independence—he/she should be able to find a resource, at any library, whether or not library staff is available.
Reference assistance is also provided to teachers and students through Toraha. Of over 10,000 print titles, approximately forty percent of the collection is Toraha and includes basic reference books on Torah study, values and personalities, Jewish fiction and short story collections, picture book Toraha, multi-media titles and professional education resources. The Encyclopedia Toraha, a basic reference source, is available in print edition in the library. There are several sets of Chumashim (Bibles), some in Hebrew only, others with English linear translation, prose form, or traditional translation. Some with Rashi (special commentary) are available for check-out. All students receive the text appropriate to their studies, and we encourage students and parents to build a Jewish library at home, directed in part by their child's studies and needs.
A collection of forty puppets, a puppet stage, a piano keyboard, musical instruments for sound effects, and books exist to stimulate our students’ creative imagination and to help them refine their storytelling skills. Students come to the library during recess and after school to rehearse and perform their shows. Emek also has a school wide program (focused within the fourth and fifth grades) involved in recording stories for blind children, served by Junior Blind of America, the Frances Blend School, and The Blind Children’s Learning Center, and funded by the Milken Foundation and Best Buy.
Emek students use the multi-media resources of the library talent center in many extended independent experiential projects that go far beyond textbook learning. Students use the seven computer stations to engage in educational games to extend their learning in general studies and Torah subjects, and do research on the internet and Encarta Encyclopedia. They use PowerPoint to create animated cartoons, original interactive adventure games, and slide show presentations for class and for extra-challenge projects. They use Paint and Print shop to create graphics and flyers for entrepreneurial and altruistic start-ups. They use the IMAC to compose music, edit photos, and shoot and edit movies to promote Torah and mitzvot (good deeds), and they use Microsoft Word to write reports, stories, poetry, video scripts, and research projects. Students take pictures with the library cameras to illustrate books and for the CD yearbook they create themselves. They weave on the loom and spin wool into yarn on our spindle. They compose music on our piano keyboard, harps, and on Garage Band on the IMAC. They learn engineering by building marble roller coasters, machines with K’nex and Erector sets, and electronic projects with Snap Circuits and other kits. They design clothing, cards, bookmarks, toys, zoos, and cities with clay and other arts and crafts kits and supplies.
Our annual book fair generates excitement about books and the joys of book ownership. The book fair encourages families to build their own home libraries. The read-a-thon is one of the most exciting events of the year. Students make major breakthroughs in reading fluency and enjoyment, raise money for the library and charity, and earn prizes by reading 2000 minutes over two months in the spring. During the read-a-thon, we hold an annual book swap so that students can bring in books they no longer read and trade them for books that other students bring. Both the book fair and the read-a-thon help parents realize the importance of making time for reading, assisting their children to understand the benefits of reading, listening and viewing for pleasure, as well as for gaining information and knowledge. We also reinforce the value of reading and our library programs through regular communications in the school newsletter, and through our star reader program which promotes literacy and social networking. The nature of the social networking medium allows students to interact with each other both online from home and at the library catalog stations to discuss their favorite books and thus, encourage each other to read. Our new Destiny Library Catalog program is becoming the catalyst for our students and their families to read, rate, review and recommend books they have enjoyed.
The Emek physical education (P.E.) department is dedicated to teaching the disciplines of health, fitness, and sportsmanship to its students. The goal is to give the students the knowledge of how to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle which leads to over-all well-being. This high quality P.E. instruction contributes to good health, strong bodies, improved self-confidence, improved motor-skills, and the ability for students to use what they learn to maintain, increase, and/or assess their physical fitness levels. Our curriculum is aligned with the California State Standards for P.E. Each grade-level class meets twice per week and is taught by one of our two coaches.
Depending on the grade level the students are in, we design a program that is age-appropriate and is sensitive to the development of each student’s individual goals and needs. We implement rhythmic skills, combinations of movement patterns and skills, movement concepts, self-responsibility, social interaction, group dynamics, and manipulative skills. We teach the importance of muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, balance, and a healthy body composition, while assessing the student’s aerobic capacity.
Emek provides a safe environment for students to learn and grow in the field of P.E., as well as to creatively develop the skills needed through hand-eye coordination exercises and ample time to practice a particular skill. The gym facility provides an amazing multi-sport arena where the students can actively participate in individual and group activities such as track & field, basketball, soccer, floor hockey, volleyball, kickball, dodge ball, capture the flag, step-aerobics, and other age-appropriate activities. We recently acquired a climbing net which has been a great tool for teaching upper and lower body strength and coordination.
The school also provides after-school programs and clinics which give the students structured instruction and extra play time in basketball, tennis, soccer, gymnastics, and football. A number of students participate in extra-curricular activities such as karate, basketball, baseball, and tennis, while others use time outside of school for free play. Our students are also involved in jog-a-thons, sports field trips, and hikes. During school hours, the students have scheduled recess time during which they are able to borrow school equipment to play different games or sports in a safe environment overseen by both school guards and staff.
In elementary school, we emphasize the way in which students move through space and time in their environment, the continuity and change in movement, the manipulation of objects with accuracy and speed. In middle school, we emphasize working cooperatively to achieve a common goal, meet challenges, make decisions, and work as a team to solve problems. Through continued instruction, practice, goal setting, and assessment, the P.E. department is actively involved in the development and achievement of each student. We implement curriculum standards to develop teaching strategies which provide the best learning environment for the students, while communicating with the parents regarding their child’s development as well. In so doing, Emek has developed a curriculum that is proactive in the physical, social, psychological, and spiritual development of each student.
Under the leadership of our new Athletic Director and Coach Ben Yeger, our inaugural year of competitive sports is well under way. Our boys and girls middle school basketball teams have learned the importance of teamwork and good sportsmanship, on the way to a successful start.
We look forward to joining the private day school league next year, which will offer us a chance to compete on a higher level. Our 4th and 5th grade girls soccer team is ready to kick it up a notch in their first season. Our coaches teach skills and game strategies while encouraging teamwork, sportsmanship, and respect. Students of all levels are encouraged to participate as sports can promote leadership skills, personal pride, and self confidence. Be on the lookout for added sports next year as we continue to develop and grow our program.
Our music program reflects the school’s philosophy and in support of our ESLRs, revolves entirely upon the songs inspired by the Torah, our chaggim (holidays), zimrei Shabbat (Sabbath songs) and extractions from the siddur (prayer book). Throughout the elementary grades, the students are exposed to the moving and meditative niggunim (tunes) of the Chassidim, the stirring melodies we hear at shul, and also the more contemporary compositions by musical masters such as Shlomo Carlebach, Mordechai Ben David, Avram Fried and present popular performers in the observant world such as Yaakov Shwekey and members of the Miami and Yeshiva Boys’ Choir(s). While engaging in the music of our tradition, the students learn the fundamental language of written music. The students also learn the difference between pitches and simple rhythmic patterns and the way they are represented on paper and in theory. Various instruments, such as tambourines and other percussion instruments for the rhythmic, and the glockenspiel and keyboard for the melodic, are used each class by the students.
In art, the students focus on analyzing art elements and principles of design and on describing and replicating repeated patterns in nature, in the environment, and in works of art. Students use and learn to distinguish among various media when looking at works of art (i.e., clay, paints, printing, and drawing materials).
Students learn about various subject matters in art (i.e., landscapes, seascapes, portraits, still life). Students view artworks and identify art objects from various cultures (i.e., Japanese screen painting, Mexican tin art, African masks). They discuss the content of works of art in the past and present, focusing on the different cultures, which have contributed to American history, art heritage, and Jewish art and artists.
Students discuss works of art created in the classroom, focusing on selected elements of art (i.e., shape/form, texture, line, color). Students analyze, assess, and derive meaning from works of art, including from their own, according to the elements of art, to the principles of design, and to aesthetic qualities.
Emek’s Art Elective Program allows students, grades 4th-8th, to explore and focus on a variety of areas, beyond the core curriculum of math, science, social science and language arts. Students ‘transform’ the art room into “an artist/designer studio” where they get to experience, discover, and create their unique work of art.
Students apply what they learn in the art program across subject areas. They develop competencies and creative skills in problem solving, communication, and time and resource management, which contribute to their lifelong learning and to their future career skills. They also learn about careers in and related to the visual arts. Students’ art works are displayed throughout the school, year-round, thus expanding art education outside of the art room.
The afterschool Drama program is a complete and professional Musical Theatre Experience for the girls at Emek Hebrew Academy Teichman Family Torah Center in grades 4-8. The program is designed to teach all the basics of acting and theatre skills including the proper terminology, and production process from choosing the right story, to learning songs, doing background research to understand the history of the setting.
The girls have an amazing opportunity to develop their natural talents as performers, singers or develop organizational skills as stage managers and backstage crew. It is an opportunity to deepen their reading, comprehension and communication skills. They become confident and self-reliant problem solvers and public speakers.