Beth El welcomes the Park Place School

by | Dec 18, 2017 | Other News

Walking through Congregation Beth El’s education wing on a weekday, one might be surprised to hear the sounds of violins. The source of the music is from students who attend the Park Place School, located at Beth El since August.

Each of the 66 second through sixth graders who attend the school take weekly violin instruction in addition to participating in a robust enrichment program that includes art instruction, a global Citizenship class, and social and emotional training. The core class instruction is rooted in national and state standards and is shaped by individual needs in each classroom of 15 students. Students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch— and who were not thriving in school—are the participants in the privately funded, tuition-free program.

Park Place School started in 1996 as a three-year pilot program, Project Rebound. The program targeted 10 Norfolk Public School students who improved their test scores in core subjects for reading, math, and spelling an average of about 20 percentage points. After completion of the three-year pilot project, the students re-enrolled into the Norfolk Public Schools working at, or above grade level. All students who attended Project Rebound graduated from high school.

Since moving to their new home this fall, Park Place students and staff have been welcomed with open arms by the Beth El family and the community at large. Beth El has provided volunteers working in creative writing and the BEAR reading program, congregants collected and donated 54 Thanksgiving meals, and Sisterhood hosted a holiday luncheon with gifts for all. As the word spreads, other groups are lending support. Virginian Wesleyan students conducted a food and clothing drive for Park Place students, and Norfolk Academy is partnering with the school by sending middle school students to do community service and enrichment projects.

The opportunities are limitless to help these incredible students. To lend support to the Park Place School, contact

– Patti Wainger