Friday, March 31, 2017

This professional development program was funded through a grant from Jewish Nevada. The Jewish Federation of Las Vegas (Jewish Nevada) has been a great partner to the Adelson Campus and we sincerely appreciate the opportunity to host such a wonderful community event.  Thank you to the Jewish Nevada Board of Directors and the entire Federation staff for making this program possible.
The Dr. Miriam & Sheldon G. Adelson Educational Campus’s mission includes educating students for life, i.e. nurturing the potential inherent in each student. Through our belief in the combined power of academics, and Jewish identity and values, we graduate engaged thinkers, prepared to embrace and lead a world of accelerating change.
An educational institution dedicated to identifying, educating and nurturing the interests, needs and potential of each student must by definition, address each student as an individual, and therefore must customize each student’s learning. We do that through instructional differentiation. Easier said than done; how does a single teacher meet the varied and multiple needs of the many students in the class?
Faculty education is critical to meeting this need. The great majority of our teachers are content experts but less skilled in differentiation and often are stymied by the challenge of simultaneously addressing multiple and at times conflicting student needs. This is particularly critical need for Jewish schools for often our faculty lack this training in differentiated instruction.
Therefore, the administration at Adelson Campus emphasizes professional development in the area of differentiation. One can only meet the needs of all students when one is skilled in customizing instruction and offering a variety of pedagogical strategies in the classroom. Each student’s potential is developed individually and it is our goal and challenge to ensure that we skillfully and successfully do so.
This week we hosted Dr. Karen Gazith to Las Vegas to provide a two-day professional development training to our Lower School faculty- all grades, and ages, all disciplines and subjects. Noting this community wide need, we invited the Soloman Schechter, Yeshiva Day School and Desert Torah Academy to join us in this venture.
Dr. Gazith is a member of McGill University’s Department of Education, where she has taught for over twenty years. She also serves as Academic Dean at Talmud Torah Herzliah in Montreal. Dr. Gazith has channeled her expertise in education into the Jewish community having taught at several Jewish Day school as well as serving as Director of Special Education. She has taught at The Hebrew College in Boston and The University of New Brunswick. She presents on topics related to meeting diverse needs in the classroom, including assessment and instruction, developing key strategies and competencies across Canada, the United States, England, Israel and Australia; and always to rave reviews. Having worked with her as part of a consortium of Jewish day schools and the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, I can attest for her influence on teachers and their success in implementing her lessons.
Impact of Dr. Gazith’s training should be noted in two distinct areas:
1. Impact in teaching and learning will be documented primarily through classroom observation, faculty supervision and conversations. Our principals are keenly aware of the current nature of teaching; and the gaps they will be able to insist upon and maintain the use of strategies taught by Dr. Gazith. Ultimately, as we track student success, we can track the improved pedagogy and use differentiated instruction.
2. Impact on collaboration between the schools will hopefully be initiated at the meeting of faculty of our day schools. Perhaps there will be a follow up to this work; perhaps we will share more intensely in the future as we collaborate on shared goals and needs.
It was an amazing educational event for the Las Vegas Jewish community. Our Adelson Campus representatives appreciate the continued professional development and plan to apply this knowledge back to the Lower School classrooms and help train other teachers what they have learned.