MLP helps kids with learning differences
Photo: Blasnik Family
Steve and Linda Blasnik with their daughters Julie and Sarah

For years, couples Linda and Steve Blasnik, and Beverley and Alan Block, each dreamed of helping Jewish children with learning differences realize their full potential. They are making their dream a reality by creating the Ma’alot Learning Platform (MLP), which will be housed at the newly merged Akiba Yavneh Academies.
Through one-on-one and small group instruction, the new program will develop and expand upon the learning services currently offered on campus. Each student’s learning experience will be individually crafted to maximize their full growth potential while enriching both General and Judaic studies.
“We have thought for a long time that the Dallas Jewish community needed to offer more resources for kids who need a personalized education,” said Steve Blasnik, whose daughters attended Akiba and Yavneh. “We want to better meet our responsibility to offer a Jewish education to all who want it.”
Over time, the MLP will offer learning services in both remediation and acceleration.
“The education of all children has always been hard-wired into the very ethos of our Jewish heritage,” said Rabbi Yaakov Green, head of school for Akiba Yavneh Academies. “I believe that through our Ma’alot program, we have an opportunity to push the field forward and to have the Dallas Jewish community demonstrate to world Jewry where passionate and compassionate Jewish education must be today and tomorrow.”
For the Blocks, the Ma’alot program helps continue the legacy that Beverley’s parents, Walter and Lillian Cantor, began almost 50 years ago. In response to a lack of existing services for her sister who had autism, Beverley’s parents created a school and a foundation to help meet the social and educational needs of individuals with autism.
“The Ma’alot platform is an inclusive program within the confines of a school that teaches kids without learning differences, so there’s a potential for mainstreaming kids early on,” said Alan Block, whose grandchildren attend Akiba and Yavneh. “And to be able to have a Jewish education included in this program is unique and important.”
Beverley and Alan’s dreams for the program go beyond the children in it.
“You can see the benefits Ma’alot will bring to all the kids in the school as they all learn to be more accepting and empathetic,” Beverley Block said.
Amanda Stubbs, director of the Ma’alot platform, brings with her more than 10 years of experience working with children from diverse learning backgrounds in the Denison Independent School District. Her responsibilities there included developing curriculum, mentoring new teachers, serving as a lead teacher, developing and sustaining after-school programs, and staff training and development.
“I am excited to be able to provide differentiated, evidence-based practices to enrich the lives of students with learning differences,” said Stubbs. “I feel honored to be able to guide students to reach their true academic and social-emotional potentials.”
Stubbs provides guidance to local and state organizations on a variety of topics related to educating children. She is a certified special education teacher, holds a master’s degree in education and community renewal, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in educational leadership with an emphasis in special education.
Rebecca Steinfeld, an Akiba and Yavneh alumna, will serve as an instructor for the program, drawing on her experience in behavioral therapy and educational technology.
To learn more about the Ma’alot Learning Platform, please contact
—Submitted by Sara Mancuso, Akiba Yavneh Academies communications and marketing director

Leave a Reply