Flashback Jill Suffel

081415_flashback1From a very young age, it was instilled in Jill Suffel that education is of the utmost importance. Although she majored in mass communications at Villa Julie College, now Stevenson University, she soon went back to school for teaching. After seven years at Bedford Elementary School in Pikesville and a break from teaching to have twin boys, Suffel, 43, is now an Institute of Higher Education liaison at her alma mater, where she supervises student-interns who are working in schools. She takes great pride in shaping the next generation of educators.

Could you describe the work that you do?
I go into schools and I supervise the seniors and sophomores who are doing their internships. I observe them, give them feedback and help make suggestions based on what I observed.

How did you go from teaching to advising future teachers?
There were students from Stevenson who needed to be placed in the elementary school where I was teaching, and I always volunteered to have them because of my connection to Stevenson and also because I had so many wonderful experiences when I was a student-teacher. I really wanted to help [them] become the best teachers they can be. I got pregnant with twins and didn’t go back to teaching after that. I always wanted to help mentor teachers, and it fell into my lap at the right time. I’m about to start my 11th year.

081415_flashbackWhy is education and helping people important to you?
From an early age it was instilled in me that not many things mattered more than school and a good education, and when I was training to be a teacher I had some good mentors and had some not-so-good mentors. I took from those experiences and tried to be someone who would always add something positive into helping other people become teachers.

What advice could you give those who hope to become teachers?
It takes a lot of hard work and dedication, and it is the most rewarding profession. I still keep in touch with a lot of my students from when I was a teacher. There’s really nothing more rewarding than seeing your students grow into adults. You get back so much from what you give.


Online Options Course offerings can meet students where they are, academically or geographically

081415_onlineOnline classroom technology provides a robust computer-based educational experience and instructor interaction that for some learners can make the difference between access to knowledge and not having access at all.

At the start of its fourth year of academic course offerings, Bonim B’Yachad, an online Israeli-based education company that delivers religious and academic content to Jewish day schools around the U.S. and was founded by Baltimorean Dr. Howard Eisenberg, expects to engage more than 500 students online with the assistance of about 22 teachers in the coming school year.

“Instead of being a third-party platform we try to be an extension of the school,” said Howard’s son, Aryeh Eisenberg, Bonim B’Yachad CEO and general manager.

They conform to a school’s schedule and adhere to its existing academic program, said Eisenberg, a Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School graduate who made aliyah more than seven years ago. For instance, if Jewish history is offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday at a certain time, Bonim B’Yachad will work within that window. Instead of students going to a physical classroom, they connect to their online classroom and teacher via computer. To participate, a student may log onto his or her own laptop, or depending upon resources, students may use a monitor and learn in a small group.

Eisenberg adds, “We use [the school’s] grading system and participate in parent-teacher conferences [via computer or phone] — and yes, if it’s 3 a.m. in Israel, we will still
be there.”

“Their service is a varied one. It can be used for enrichment or remediation,” said Zipora Schorr, BT director of education for more than 30 years. “If there is a student or small group that would benefit from a course, but I may not have a teacher for it or a subsection of a class,” then we can contract with Bonim B’Yachad to provide it, she said.

Schorr said BT has contracted with them for math, Bible and Hebrew language courses and adds that so far a class has consisted of anywhere from one to six students

“[The class is] in real time, it’s not just an online course. It’s an interactive course, with a human being,” said Schorr. “Several times I walked in [the room where students are logged into the course] and I was able to talk to the instructor myself. I could engage in dialogue exactly as we do in classroom.”

Schorr said it’s not always possible to add to a teacher’s already full schedule so that’s when BT would contract with Bonim B’Yachad, and other times the decision might be based on obtaining an instructor with the right expertise. Hiring another in-person teacher for a single course isn’t feasible with a typical teacher’s contract, she said.

At the other end of the online learning spectrum is the University of Maryland University College, established after World War II, first providing distributed education to military bases and now offering educational opportunities online and face-to-face for adult students and military personnel in Maryland, the nation and throughout the world.

Especially in the early years, lacking a centralized campus, UMUC went out to where the students were located. They rented space, often on military bases, and also offered night and weekend classes at the College Park campus and still do today.

“[Transitioning to] online was so perfect for us, we already knew how to reach out to students and how to get materials to them,” said Cynthia Davis, senior director of special academic projects. “Once we started online the demand went up,” especially from people living in areas where traffic is prohibitive (if you need to drive from work to a campus at rush hour for instance), and it’s great for military students who may move around a lot or get deployed, she said.

UMUC courses are designed by the faculty that teaches them and include consultation with working experts in the given field. First, course outcomes are determined, which include employability, and content is built enlisting a team of programmers, instructional designers and graphic designers who work to make it an engaging online educational experience.

The courses are structured “so you can use them for a hybrid course and a fully online or a fully face-to-face course,” said Davis, who before her current position served as dean and associate dean of the undergraduate school and has been with the institution for about 17 years.

UMUC is a member of the University of Maryland College Network, and the online classroom platform is asynchronous because it’s used by students from all over world in different time zones. There is a “chat” function for students to contact each other as well as instructors and the online classroom contains an assignment and resources area, a grading area and work submission area.

In 2014, UMUC had upward of 243,000 online students enrolled worldwide, including about 32,000 Marylanders who can also access 18 face-to-face instruction sites throughout the state. UMUC also runs 140 locations across four continents to service their students.

Average learners “are working adults, about 30 years old,” and 74 percent of those are employed fulltime, said Davis. “Most are married and often have children, and more than 50 percent are in the military, partly because we have the contracts overseas with bases,” and if they move or are deployed, the course can move with them. “It’s not uncommon to have students doing active duty in dangerous places,” she added.

“You can have high-quality education, but sometimes higher quality,” said Davis, in reference to the often-criticized reputation and rigor of online education. “You can provide more resources, and you can watch [and track] what goes on in the online classroom.” It provides a platform to ensure every student participates and is not hindered by “one talkative person who can drown out everyone else,” in a face-to-face classroom.

UMUC offers 93 degrees, specializations and certificates that span undergraduate, graduate and doctoral studies. Courses are $299 per credit for in-state tuition and twice that amount for out-of-state, said Davis.

Costs for the real-time K-12 courses from Bonim B’Yachad are about $450 per month to $650 per month depending upon how many sessions per week a class meets.

All Bonim B’Yachad teachers have U.S. classroom experience and are certified for all secular subjects. Most made aliyah but some are Israeli-born. Instructors complete a vigorous training before they begin teaching online said Eisenberg, who spent the better part of his career as a specialist integrating technology into the classroom, and the training is something “we take very seriously,” he added.

Bonim B’Yachad will venture into online adult education with Melton Online Europe this fall, offering Jewish studies classes targeted toward people in areas with difficulty accessing Jewish learning.

Said Eisenberg, “One of the great things about online learning is there are no limits to the possibilities.”


Under Pressure Organization challenges narrow version of success

081415_stressAs students prepare for their first day back to school after summer break with newly bought clothes and fresh supplies, many will return to campus with a weight on their shoulders.

“Everybody wants their kid to be successful, but I’d argue pushing your child too hard ensures the
opposite of what you’re hoping for,” said Dr. Madeline Levine, clinical psychologist and author of “The Price of Privilege” and “Teach Your Children Well.”

Levine co-founded Challenge Success, an organization committed to changing the way teachers, families and students view and treat education, alongside Jim Lobdell, an educational consultant, and Denise Pope, a senior lecturer at Stanford University’s graduate school of education.

“Kids are doing too much in and out of school and the payoff is not what you expect,” said Pope. “You would think they are well prepared, but that’s not the case.”

Pope, Maureen Brown, executive director of Challenge Success, and Sarah Miles, research director, authored “Overloaded and Underprepared,” a book addressing the issue of pressure put on some students to succeed and how to change the classroom environment.

“We surveyed [in] high schools and middle schools across the nation and asked questions about ‘academic worry’ and to what extent do [students] worry about college acceptance and grades,” said Miles.

After interviewing more than 16,000 students at 27 high schools, they found 73 percent said they were “often” or “always” stressed about their school work.

What worries Levine, though, is how even when parents back off, the kids are still under pressure.

“It’s a matter of internalizing parental values,” said Levine. “Mom says, ‘Don’t take the cookie.’ Kids learn to not take the cookie. If parents are always at the door asking, ‘How did you do on the test?’ Kids internalize that.”

This stress ultimately takes a toll on students mentally and physically. Of those 16,000 students surveyed, over a third reported experiencing headaches, exhaustion and difficulty sleeping within a month of taking the survey, all of which are signs
of stress.

As a lecturer, Pope has seen the pressure students feel during middle and high school does not
subside in college, even thoughparents are out of the picture. At Stanford in particular, students have duck syndrome; although a duck may look calm while it glides across the water, beneath the surface it is frantically trying to stay afloat.

“It used to be a badge of honor to show how hard you were working,” said Pope, referring to students who brag about staying up late or only getting so few hours of sleep. “Somewhere between then and now if you want to be considered really smart, you have to make it look easy.”

Pope said that this attitude would lead some students to self-sabotage, where instead of studying for a test and risk failing, they would intentionally stay up late or not study at all. If they ended up failing, then they’d have something to blame it on.

However, Pope’s book outlines the problems in the first chapter and then moves onto the solution, which is framed around the acronym S.P.A.C.E: scheduling; problem and project-based learning; authentic and alternative assessment; climate of care; and educating students,
parents and teachers.

The impetus for change not only lies in students’ well-being, but also in the softer skills that some students miss out on such as critical thinking and building resilience to setbacks. Pope, who sent all three of her children to Jewish day school, thinks this is where Jewish day schools outshine others.

Said Pope, “I think Jewish schools tend to do social and emotional learning fairly well because it is built into the mission of what it means to be a good person and live in a just and righteous society.”


Flashback: Sara Love Hoffman

081514_flashback_nowSara Love Hoffman, 39, realizes that living in Baltimore since she was 11 still makes her a newcomer by Baltimore standards. Still, she did get here in time to attend Franklin Middle School and Franklin High. After she headed to college in Florida, Love Hoffman didn’t expect to find herself back in town. Yet, Baltimore’s unique Jewish community lured her back. A special educator who owns her own home-based tutoring company, Love Hoffman is married to Geoffrey Hoffman, also a special educator, and the couple has two children, Hayden Skye, 8 and Maya Raine, 5. They live in Reisterstown.

iNSIDER:Your family moved to Baltimore from York, Pa., in 1986. What was the reason for the move?
Love Hoffman:
We moved here because there were almost no Jews in York and my parents wanted me to grow up with a Jewish community. After joining Chizuk Amuno Congregation, where we still go, the first place I went was to the JCC.

What was it like for you to be suddenly in a Jewish community?
It was great. I got really involved. My parents have always showed us the importance of being involved in the community. My mother is very active in the synagogue and Hadassah. On my 18th birthday, I became a life member of Hadassah. I also went to Camp Louise from the time I was 8.

Has being involved in the community affected the way you are raising your children?
Yes. Both of my kids are graduates of the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC Early Childhood Center. Now my son goes to religious school at Chizuk Amuno and he really enjoys it. We do Shabbat. It’s very important to us that they grow up like I did. They look forward to celebrating holidays and they know that’s when family comes. This week my son went to Camp Airy with his father for the first time. He’ll get a different sense of Jewish culture there. He’s supposed to come home on Sunday, but I don’t know if he will. He seems to be having the time of his life!

081514_flashback_pastWhat might surprise your high school friends?
Well, I don’t know if they would be too surprised. I’ve always been involved in every extracurricular possible. I volunteer with my kid’s schools and I just completed The Associated’s D’or Tikvah program.

What was your favorite part of D’or Tikvah?
It was really interesting to get behind the scenes of the agencies. I knew CHANA and I knew CHAI, but I didn’t know how they worked. They showed us how the agencies run, where the money goes, how The Associated makes decisions on how to allocate it. Then I get the opportunity to use that knowledge to pick anywhere in the system where I can use it. I will be serving on the Center for Jewish Camping committee. I heard about that and thought it would be interesting.

Adding It Up

081514_mathWith the advancement of Common Core and the debate over education reform heating up, math disabilities are getting more attention at some local schools than ever before.

“We started with a traditional [math education] program, and we scrapped it within three months,” says Jamie Caplan, founder of the Legacy School, a Sykesville-based school focused on helping children with dyslexia. The school focuses on small classrooms and learning at an independent pace.

According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, dyscalculia, or math learning disability, affect between 5 and 9 percent of children. While many children with dyscalculia are also affected by other kinds of learning disabilities, it is not uncommon for dyscalculia to appear alone. The disability often appears in the form of difficulties remembering number facts, relating quantities to the numbers themselves and recognizing patterns, says the NCLD website.

For parents who suspect their child may have dyscalculia, Caplan says one telltale sign is a discrepancy between what that child understands and what he or she is able to produce.

At The Legacy School, Caplan says teachers focus on cementing the basic building blocks, like subtraction and addition, before moving on to more complicated material. For some students, the addition and subtraction unit can last just a couple of weeks, but for others, it may take months. Caplan says her teachers are instructed to take as long as the children need to be completely confident in each lesson before moving on.

“In math you need that strong foundation,” says Caplan.

Fran Bowman, a former teacher and current educational specialist, agrees.

“Think of it like climbing a ladder,” says Bowman. “You can’t climb the eighteenth rung if you’re missing rungs 15, 16 and 17.”

Bowman has seen a lot of changes in education over her more than four decades of working in the field of education. In the past, she says, some educators have approached learning disabilities by taking the same lessons and strategies they use for other children but moving slower. While this may have seemed like a reasonable tactic, she says, it didn’t address the heart of the problem: that each student learns differently. Strategies that work for one student may not resonate with the student in the neighboring desk.

At the Jemicy School in Owings Mills, Beth Franks, head of math at the lower school, says the school deals with math disabilities by placing students in classrooms organized not by level, but by learner-type. For example, she has some second- graders who sit in math class with third- or fourth-graders. It works, she says, because the classrooms are small, allowing a lot of one-to-one time, and because the students are all being taught in a way that makes sense to them.

Another essential ingredient to teaching students with math disabilities is allowing the children to do the math physically.

“You have to get creative and you have to stick with what works,” says Franks.

Each math classroom at Jemicy has manipulatives for students to use. When they’re learning about geometry, they use Popsicle sticks to create the shapes being discussed. When they’re adding, multiplying, diving or subtracting, the children have access to wooden blocks to place in groups and move around.

Franks says the school often uses the following metaphor, discovered by a fellow Jemicy staff member and originating from the teachings of spiritual leader Paul Solomon, to explain the learning process: “People can describe a strawberry to you, what it looks like, what it feels like, its color and shape, but until you have tasted the strawberry you can’t really know what the strawberry tastes like.”

In other words: Each student has to experience what the equations they are solving mean. Instructors at Jemicy start with the concrete and connect it to the abstract ideas math is centered on.

In the end, says Frank, the biggest difference of all comes when a student realizes he or she has the ability to understand subjects like math or reading and excel.

“Many kids come in and really, really lack confidence,” she says. “When they learn to read, it’s almost like, ‘Hey, I am smart,’ and it sort of transfers over.”


Kinderkool: College Prep

Created with flickr slideshow.

Get ready for dorm life with decorative designs from Dormify.com.

Online retailer, Dormify.com was founded in 2011 by mother/daughter team, Karen (right) and Amanda Zuckerman of Potomac. After shopping for dorm supplies prior to her freshman year at Washington University, Amanda and her mother discovered that it was challenging to find fashionable home products for younger consumers. They founded Dormify.com to create unique, fashion-forward design options for teens, college students and first-time apartment dwellers.


081514_carpoolFive work deadlines, four kids, three schools, two cups of coffee, one tired parent.

From crawling in traffic to sprinting to afterschool pickup, busy working parents never get a break. Luckily, the digital world makes their lives a little easier. With new phone and computer applications, many parents are indulging in modern technology to deal with the stresses of carpooling.

“The combination of phone, email and text keeps my carpooling schedule in check,” says father of two Aaron Mannes. “My carpool involves several children in several locations. There needs to be a lot of technological communication going on to make it all work. Some of my biggest questions of the day include, ‘Do I take the minivan?’ and ‘Which child has a doctor’s appointment today?’”

Serving as a researcher at the University of Maryland’s Lab for Computational Cultural Dynamics, Mannes strikes a balance between work and carpool life. With flexible hours, he is frequently responsible for afternoon pickup.

“Often, I’ll get an afternoon email from working parents asking if I can pick their child up,” he says. “I have run carpools where my kids are not even involved.”

Mannes shares his carpooling adventures in a parenting blog, “For Fathers Only.” Under the pen-name Father Goof, Mannes reveals the comical ins and outs of the everyday dad.

“I’m not going to lie; talking about carpooling is good material for a blog,” says Mannes. “I try to make it both funny and sweet. It is a great way to cap off my day.”

While some parents use technology to decompress, others use technology to help their carpools run smoothly. A number of new smart phone mobile applications are geared at carpooling parents. Free applications such as Carpool: School Edition, Karpooler, Car Pool Party, Looptivity, and more, allow stressed parents to organize their carpools directly from their smart phones.

Android and iPhone application Toogether, for example, connects drivers offering rides to passengers needing them. The application also displays how much the driver wants to be compensated, provides suggestions for local carpools and links different drivers together via social networking.

“I don’t use any technological applications, but maybe I should,” says Baltimore mother and Jewish religious school educator, Zahava Kimelfeld. “With six children, everything has to run smoothly. If we are even one minute behind schedule, everything falls out of place.”

As the mother of six, Kimelfeld must remember all of her children’s schedules by heart.

“Our entire schedule is based on transporting the children and making sure everyone is ready,” says Kimelfeld. “From my husband driving back home to switch from the car to the minivan, to staying up until 2 a.m. preparing school lunches and Friday night dinner, my life is a juggling act. It can often be a lot for one person to remember. Staying organized is the best way to take care of my big family.”

With mobile applications such as Cozi, parents like Kimelfeld can program all of their children’s timetables into their mobile phones. With close to 12 million users registered, Cozi comes to the rescue of busy parents.

“We got started because we saw that families had literally no tools to help them manage the chaos of day to day life,” says Cozi cofounder and CEO Robbie Cape. “The Cozi family organizer includes family calendars, shopping lists, to-do lists, family journals and meal planners. The mobile application integrates all parts of family life and helps families with everything they have to do.”

While Cozi sets up the calendar, KangaDo is a parent organizer. The application allows parents to chat and coordinate schedules with their friends. From carpool planning to daycare pickup, the application is equipped with private, free messaging that can share photos and current locations. In addition, users can turn a chat into an event on their iPhone calendar.

As great as the new technological wonders are, fathers like Mannes joke about wanting more.

“Through technology, my children always know where I am,” says Mannes. “I am always getting texts asking how close I am, and I can tell them instantly when I am stuck in traffic. I am still waiting for the day when Google makes those self-driving cars. That would make my carpooling life so much easier.”

Allie Freedman is a local freelance writer.

New and Notable in Baltimore

With autumn just around the corner, Baltimore parents are spoiled for choices when it comes to their children’s educations. Baltimore schools provide an array of programs — far too many to cover in one article — catering to students’ individual needs. From mastering modern technology to conquering learning disabilities, Baltimore schools are creating innovative curricula that enhance and stimulate their students’ learning. Here, iNSIDER takes a look at some under-the-radar schools, and others that while well-established, have undergone recent changes.


Students at Arts and Ideas Sudbury School choose how and what they learn.

Arts and Ideas Sudbury School:
Sometimes, school can feel like a dictatorship. At the Arts and Ideas Sudbury School in Baltimore, power is given back to the students. Schoolchildren live out their educational dreams at the school, where they are able to choose how they spend their days and study only what peaks their curiosity.

“When students have an authentic say in how the school is run, they feel ownership and want to take care of their community,” says founder Caroline Chavasse. “Our school philosophy is based on how human beings learn. Other schools are wrapped around the idea of how to teach. We give students more freedom.”

With a democratic system of education in place, students learn on their own timelines, based on their own motivations. While one student is mastering the art of algebra, another might be devoting his time to music. Attending Judicial Committee meetings, students at Arts and Ideas make decisions on how the school is run, vote on school rules and even elect staff members.

“Our school believes that children should not be denied the rights and freedoms that adults enjoy,” says Chavasse. “We observe that children are capable decision-makers and by providing a school where they can practice independence and responsibility in a safe community, they become independent, responsible and successful adults.”

For more information, visit aisudbury.com.

Talmudical Academy: 

Almost a century old, Talmudical Academy has been teaching young Jewish men Torah since 1917. Offering programs for preschool through Grade 12, the longtime Baltimore institution packs a rigorous curriculum of general studies and Jewish religious education into each full day.

This year, a new elementary school general studies principal is joining the team as TA brings Rabbi Zev Silver back to Baltimore to strengthen the core curricula after a 21-year absence. Devoting the past 19 years of his career to Akiba Academy in Dallas, Texas, Silver is delighted to bring his talents to TA in a quest to improve the program even further.

“I find TA to be a very engaging school and very child centered,” says Silver. “There is a strong commitment to excellence in education, and it is truly a happy place with happy students and exceptional educators who care deeply about each and every student. My objective is to reach and teach every child. I want them to get beyond their comfort zone. I don’t want any child to plateau.”

As the general studies principal, Silver will incorporate his passion for education into enhancing the school’s core academic subjects.

Already a fan of TA’s work, he looks forward to overseeing classrooms and working directly with students and staff.

“The teachers are empowered and want the students to learn and grow. I’m looking forward to improving an already strong program,” says Silver. “In addition to strong academics, I am impressed with the school’s inclusion of children requiring special education. The Shemesh program has really helped cater to students with special needs. It is just a privilege to be a part of such an incredible school.”

For more information, visit Talmudicalacademy.org.

Gateway School:
Have you heard about Google Glass? At the Gateway School, students use it every day. The head-mounted computer that displays information in a hands-free format and responds to voice commands helps students with a variety of communication disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders, developmental delay, hearing loss and speech-language challenges. Gateway School will utilize the technology to help students with both interpretive and therapeutic work.

Part of the Hearing and Speech Agency (HASA), Gateway is one of five schools selected from 1,300 applications to win Google’s prestigious Google Glass grant for the 2014-2015 school year.

“It’s very gratifying to be recognized by Google for our innovative spirit and we look forward to using Google Glass in the year ahead,” says executive director Susan Glasgow.

In addition to Google Glass, the Gateway School is expanding to accommodate children as young as 24-months in its Little Learners program. Younger students have already taken advantage of the school’s one-on-one speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and audiology. Now, educational director Jill Berie looks forward to inviting little learners into the classroom.

“Our mission at Gateway School has always been to establish a base for lifelong learning for children with special communication needs related to autism, speech-language delay or hearing loss,” says Berie. “Opening our doors to children at age 24 months allows us to establish that base as early as possible.”

For more information, visit hasa.org/school.

Legacy School:
Located in Sykesville, the Legacy School, which opened in 2011, focuses on students with language-based learning disabilities. The school provides students with dyslexia, dysgraphia and other language processing difficulties with an environment in which to flourish.

“When I founded the school, I was working with several families that needed a place for their child to go to school,” says founder Jamie Caplan. “These families were essentially out of options because their children could not thrive in the public school setting.”

Accessible to students all over the Baltimore metropolitan area, the Carroll County-based school currently offers bus transportation to and from Baltimore County. The Legacy School’s many offerings include daily one-on-one tutoring, a 2:1 student/teacher ratio and a thematic multi-sensory curriculum.

“We create a safe environment for students with daily one-on-one reading and language tutoring to remediate their learning weaknesses,” says Caplan. “This way, students can succeed and learn at their own paces.”

Baltimore resident and Legacy School parent Elizabeth Malis says that more Baltimoreans should know about this institution. When searching for a school for her now nine-year-old daughter, Melinda, she struggled to find a fit in the Baltimore area and was thrilled to discover the Legacy School.

“When we adopted Melinda, she was a 4-year-old girl living in an orphanage in Eastern Europe,” says Malis. “It took years for us to realize she has language based learning difficulties, since English is not her native tongue. As we desperately searched for schools, we came across the Legacy School with help from a therapist. With one-on-one tutoring and in school speech therapy, Melinda comes home every day learning new words. We cannot believe how much she is learning and how much her vocabulary has grown.”

For more information visit legacyschoolmd.org.

At the Auburn School, students receive lots of individual attention from staff.

At the Auburn School, students receive lots of individual attention from staff.

The Auburn School:
The Auburn School’s Baltimore Campus is all about social interaction. The Lutherville-based school offers small class sizes and personalized instruction. Auburn specializes in improving communication, organizational skills and behavioral support for children with Asperger’s syndrome/ASD, PDD-NOS, NVLD, ADHD through social skills training and pragmatic language development. Auburn has high educational standards and is geared for students with normal or above normal intelligence. Students who may have felt ostracized in their public schools will benefit from the close-knit and accepting community environment at Auburn.

For more information, theauburnschool.org/Baltimore.

Baltimore Home School:
Homeschooling doesn’t always mean learning at home. Located in Pikesville, the Baltimore Home School is sort of like a home away from home, providing a gathering place for home-schooled students where they can enroll in classes, take part in group activities, interact with adults other than their parents, and perhaps most importantly, get to know other children and teens. Courses at the Baltimore Home School include creative writing, taekwondo, music, Spanish, English, science, wellness and more. From $1 movies to field trips to “homeschool” dances, folks at the Baltimore Home School are kicking the “home” out of homeschool.

For more information visit baltimorehomeschool.org.

Allie Freedman is a local freelance writer.


081514_inside-scoop-letsmoveDuring the 2011-2012 school year, the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC Roslyn and Len Stoler Early Childhood Education Center took first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” childcare challenge. The challenge called for childcare centers and preschools to adopt practices that promoted healthy eating and exercise as means to preventing childhood obesity.

In order to qualify, the ECE made changes in the types of foods and beverages they gave children at school, added more physical activity to the school day and encouraged ECE families to limit screen time to no more than two hours. The result? The ECE’s Healthy Choices program was recognized for exceptional work by the Let’s Move initiative.

The program, developed for the ECE by Chris Sigman, R.N., director of Healthy Choices programming for the ECE, is one of only 12 childcare and preschool programs in the country and the only program in Maryland to be recognized. In 2013, the ECE was contacted by Penn State’s Better Kid Care program about being videotaped for the program’s online, on demand educational system for childcare providers. Videotaped lessons from the ECE’s Healthy Choices program are now online at extension.psu.edu/youth/betterkidcare.

For more information about the ECE Healthy Choices program, visit jcc.org/earlychildhood/healthychoices.

iNSIDER Insights: Schools of Thought

simone_ellin_squareI have always been a fan of the back-to-school season. New shoes, school supplies, haircuts, fresh starts. But this year, things are different — unlike any back-to-school season I have ever experienced.

This year, my daughter goes to college and life will never be the same. Any parent who’s been through this knows the range of emotions that accompany a milestone such as this. There is pride, excitement, but also grief — for the loss of the child who is now grown up, for the emptiness in the house now that she is gone. Whether your child is starting pre-school, kindergarten, middle, high school or college, transition is always rife with feelings.

This month’s iNSIDER looks at education from many different angles. Our cover story debunks many of the myths around community college education and explores its many benefits. In this age of skyrocketing college tuitions, it is well worth a read.

We’ve all heard plenty about language-based learning differences, but what about help for children who face challenges with math? iNSIDER talks with local experts to discover the latest thinking on dyscalculia.

Baltimore families are lucky to have both good public schools and independent schools with educational philosophies that run the gamut from Montessori to parochial to progressive. In this issue, iNSIDER checks out some schools you may not have heard about and reports on recent changes taking place in our most established educational institutions.

We also check out some new apps that claim to help busy parents with those sometimes frustrating but oh so necessary carpools.

Wherever you and your children are in the educational journey, I wish you a wonderful back to school season and a heartfelt shana tova.

Simone Ellin
iNSIDER Editor