Back to school time at Hebrew Academy and the Strelitz Early Childhood Center

by | Sep 14, 2012 | Other News

It’s been an exhilarating few weeks since the Hebrew Academy of Tidewater Konikoff Center of Learning and Strelitz Early Childhood Center preschool students returned to school on Aug. 27. Hallways and classrooms are bright and inviting, and students are now comfortably learning back in the school zone. Rabbi Mordechai Wecker, headmaster, is also now fully engaged in his position since joining everyone on campus in July. As is typical for the season, preparation activities occurred prior to opening day – from preschool and kindergarten orientations, to fifth grade technology training and professional development days—all aimed at staging a setting of community, connection and positivity.

Activities began on campus with a back to school ice cream party on the Sunday before school, where more than 50 families attended from preschool to fifth grade. “Parents and students enjoyed seeing each other, some for the first time since last school year,” says Carin Simon, admissions director. “It was also a great initiation for new families entering into our close school community.”

Preschool and kindergarten orientations gently transitioned the youngest of students back into the classroom after a long summer hiatus. “We have 45 new preschool students this year,” says Simon, “so it is important to help ensure that they are all at ease in their new surroundings. Children arrived with their parents and were able to meet teachers, explore the classroom and see or meet new friends. Kindergarten parents were also able to learn the new procedures and expectations for their children in addition to what they will be learning this year. It’s a big year for kindergarteners as they are now immersed in our dual curriculum, learning Hebrew language in addition to general studies classes. Research continues to show that students of dual language programs tend to perform higher academically and have better success rates with job opportunities in the future. But for now,” says Simon, “these kids are just excited about the fact that they get to learn violin this year!”

Just as excited as the younger students were the fifth graders—Hebrew Academy’s Class of 2013—who came early to receive technology training on brand new Dell laptops which they were given by Linda Fulcher, general studies teacher. Fulcher laid out the rules of use. “Make no mistake,” she says, “these laptops are designed to be excellent learning tools, not game stations.”

Last, but certainly not least, was the professional development program for faculty. Many topics were covered over a two-day period. Of particular note was this year’s award winning presenter, Mike Kuczala, director of instruction for the Regional Training Center, an educational consulting firm based in Randolph, N. J. Kuczala is an adjunct professor of graduate education at Gratz College of Pennsylvania and The College of New Jersey. He facilitated an outstanding professional development program for HAT and Strelitz faculty in the areas of motivation, using movement to enhance the learning process, brain based instruction, differentiated instruction, enhancing student thinking, multiple intelligences, and topics in wellness and stress management.

During Kuczala’s program, faculty learned about Affective Teaching: The way the student feels about the subject and the teacher’s impact on the student’s ability to learn. Kuczala teaches that students are influenced by what they believe their teacher believes they will achieve. Student motivation is also impacted by the level of enthusiasm the teacher shows for the subject.

The school is committed to the best professional development for the teachers.

Hebrew Academy of Tidewater and the Strelitz Early Childhood Center are constituent agencies of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. To arrange a tour or learn more about the program, visit or contact Carin Simon, admissions director, at 424-4327 or

by Dee Dee Becker