Aidan, age 8

Four Questions for Miri (Aidan’s mom)

The Hebrew Academy of Long Beach, known as HALB, and located on Long Island, is one of the 200 Jewish day schools and yeshivot that receive support from UJA. It’s also a participant in our Day School Challenge Fund, a community-wide initiative to grow the endowments of day schools. Three years ago, under the leadership of new lower-school principal Richard Altabe, HALB began offering a new approach to meeting the needs of students with learning challenges.

We talked to Miri, mom to Aidan, age 8, who shared just how much this programming helped her son.

(Q) Can you tell us about Aidan’s learning challenges and how HALB helped?
(A) My son Aidan was really struggling with reading; he came into first grade with just a few sight words, while everyone else was reading. I had him tested, and he didn’t qualify for services from the district, but I knew he needed extra support. With HALB’s “integrated collaborative teaching,” he’s in the same classroom with other kids, but there are two teachers, one with expertise in special education who can work more closely with kids like Aidan.

(Q) How’s Aidan doing now?
(A) When he finished first grade, Aidan went from being a non-reader to reading fluently, but he still had a ways to go. The program continued for another year, and the school moved the special-ed teacher up to second grade, so she could stay with the students she knew. I’m proud to say that Aidan bridged the gap and left second grade reading at second grade level. I also talked to the school about getting more support for Judaic studies, and they were totally responsive. Now he can read fluently in Hebrew too.

(Q) What does Aidan love about school?
(A) Arts, science, gym, hanging out with his friends. He loves that all the HALB administrators have an open door, they know his name, and they’re always willing to give him a few minutes if he needs to talk to someone.

(Q) What does Jewish education mean to you?
(A) I don’t know how to explain it — it’s just what we do. It really matters to us. I have so much gratitude for HALB. They do everything genuinely, with so much heart.