Students at Chabad Hebrew Academy are uncommon in many ways. They are confident in their Judaism, independent in their approach to their studies and compassionate toward other students.
“Jewish values permeate through the entire campus,” Head of School Rabbi Yosef Fradkin says.
The campus itself, located in Scripps Ranch, is on a sprawling 27 acres, built with the students in mind. A garden, which students built and continue to tend themselves, is located on one side of campus, while classrooms and educational buildings are on the opposite end.
“It’s very important that our students know how things grow and can be a part of something like the garden, and they love it — they really do,” Fradkin says.
State of the art classrooms are built to show students, aged pre-school through eighth grade, how a building works, too.
“The pipes are on the outside of the building so students get a sense of what makes a building,” Fradkin adds.
And in the classroom, students are encouraged to question and examine issues so they can understand all sides. Small student-teacher ratios ensure all students receive individual attention and that no one is left behind. A typical class size is about 14 students to one — and sometimes two or three — teachers.
In the younger grades, teachers work with small groups of students, separated by ability, so that all the children can achieve success without feeling like they are holding up the rest of the class.
“None of the students will know they are in a group that is ahead of or behind the other students, but it’s very important to the children’s development that we make sure we are serving them in the best way possible,” Fradkin says.
As children grow into middle school, they begin to focus on a balanced academic and social life. A minimum of six hours of community service a month is required, as are courses in Hebrew for all middle-school aged students.
“Not many people realize there are advanced placement courses for middle school, but we offer many of them here, making our students better prepared for high school and eventually college,” Fradkin says.
In fact, many of the older students at CHA take responsibility for the younger students, tutoring them and including them in the family environment fostered there.
“Students [who have graduated from the Academy] tell us all the time that they loved their time here and were better prepared for high school than their peers [who went to school elsewhere],” Fradkin says.
But regardless of a student’s age, Jewish values are fundamental at CHA.
“These values — including chesed (kindness), emet (truth and integrity) and achrayut (responsibility) — are emphasized each school year so that as a student grows, he or she arrives at a more mature understanding of basic character values,” says Judaic Director Leah Fradkin.
And although CHA focuses on a Judaic education, no one area of Judaism is the focus.
“Our teachers come from all walks of life,” Fradkin says. “Some are Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, or even unaffiliated, but all understand the warm community environment necessary to create well-balanced students.”
In fact, simply walking on campus is enough to sense the type of environment students enjoy, where people passing by always say hello with a smile. Fradkin says many of the students and faculty know each other by name, and make it a point to include student’s families at monthly family events like a recently held “Dad’s Dreidels and Doughnuts” event during December.
And although parental involvement is key, there is always room for students to be independent, with thought-provoking lesson plans and individualized teaching techniques. At Chabad Hebrew Academy, Judaism is just the jumping-off point. A
Chabad Hebrew Academy
10785 Pomerado Road
San Diego, California 92131