Akiba Yavneh gets $2M for learning difference programs
Photo: Akiba Yavneh Academy
Eli Ohayon and Noa Klein presented reading projects that included creating a board game. 

Anonymous donor pledges up to $500K  per year for 4 years

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DALLAS — More than $2 million in gifts from generous donors will transform the lives of students with learning differences, establish a gifted and talented program, and make Akiba Yavneh Academy the first school in Texas to offer this highly individualized educational experience within a Jewish day school.  

Gifts will be used to grow Akiba Yavneh Academy’s Ma’alot Learning Platform and Exceptional Student Services Department, which provide academic support and remediation in Judaic and General Studies for students with needs in areas like dyslexia, social skills, emotional regulation and speech-language.

This new philanthropic support came from an anonymous donor who committed to giving up to $500,000 each year for the next four years, and also from the Walter and Lillian Cantor Foundation, which gifted $150,000. This marks the second such gift from the Foundation, which supports children with learning differences and autism.

“The Jewish people have always attributed their success and survival towards our people’s extreme value placed on education,” explained Rabbi Yaakov Green, head of school at Akiba Yavneh Academy. 

“Our school’s mission states that we must reach our Jewish children and ensure we provide them an exemplary general studies and Judaic studies education. But this has only been partially realized, as we have left out those families and those children that were too ‘out of the box.’ We dream of a Jewish day school that provides a truly inspiring experience for every Jewish child, no matter the challenges he or she may face. That is truly the mission of our people, and the promise of our heritage.”

In just the one year since the program’s start, the number of students served has grown from four to 17.

“Learning differences do not occur in a vacuum,” explained Director Amanda Walker, who spent more than 10 years working with children from diverse learning backgrounds in the Denison Independent School District before helping to build Ma’alot. “Which is why we approach education from a holistic perspective and have added bolstered services in  English, math, science, Judaics, speech, and behavior this year.”

This fall, new Student Support Services Department positions and staff include: Yael Stromer, a Judaic interventionist; Michelle Mullens, a speech and language interventionist; Jasmin Hunter, behavior support assistant; Maayan Naim, support assistant; Malorie Clay, intervention specialist; Bonnie Atkins, language arts and reading interventionist; Susan Rapoport, math interventionist; and Rebecca Blomer, gifted and talented specialist.

Parent Jacques Ohayon said that he has watched his son benefit and blossom from a learning environment designed with his needs in mind.

“Instead of sending my son to a school that is only geared toward learning differences, the Ma’alot program allows him to be in a warm community and strong Jewish environment, yet still receive the level of education he would find in a specialized school,” explained Ohayon. “It’s a win-win for the parents and for the students’ social-emotional development.”

One of Akiba Yavneh’s commitments to families is to make Ma’alot services affordable.

“Through this program, a family will no longer have to choose between a nurturing, inspirational Jewish educational environment and a stellar educational program that meets their child’s challenges and needs,” explained Rabbi Green. “We have created a model where both are integrated and both are integral to the very fabric of the school that can now serve the totality of the Jewish community.”

To learn more about Akiba Yavneh Academy, a Modern Orthodox pre-K through 12th grade co-ed school in Dallas, please contact the Admissions Office at 214-295-3400 or admissions@akibayavneh.org.

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