What kinds of learning differences does Shefa address?

The Shefa School specifically serves students with language-based learning disabilities. The program is geared toward students who have average to above average intelligence who have not reached their potential levels of success in traditional classroom settings.

What are language-based learning disabilities?

Every individual is different, and every person learns differently. When one’s learning style makes it very difficult to learn basic academic skills despite strong cognitive potential, a qualified professional may diagnose a learning disability. The Shefa School addresses learning difficulties connected with language, which include challenges in reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

Unlike speaking and listening, which are skills that our brains were designed to do, reading and writing are not inborn skills. It is not surprising, then, that as many as 15% of people have reading and writing disabilities. Reading disabilities may make it difficult to sound out (or decode) written words — often called dyslexia — or comprehend a written passage once it is decoded. Dysgraphia, or writing disability, interferes with one’s ability to express ideas in writing.

These learning differences are often associated with challenges that go beyond reading, writing, and spelling. Individuals with these learning profiles may find it difficult to understand spoken language, organize and remember information, solve problems effectively, and express themselves in a clear and organized way.

Ultimately, many of these learning problems can be effectively addressed with research-based instruction, enabling individuals with language-based learning disabilities to thrive in school and pursue distinguished careers and successful lives.

What does "shefa" mean?

Shefa is a Hebrew word that can best be translated as “abundance.” We chose this name because we believe that our students possess an abundance of unique gifts, talents, skills, and insights. Our job is to nourish them emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.

What is the Jewish orientation of the school?

The Shefa School is a pluralistic community school, seeking to serve families across the Jewish spectrum. Our goal is to make Shefa a welcoming place that integrates rich Jewish values, community, culture, traditions, and holidays — regardless of each family’s particular practice or affiliation. We serve only kosher food and observe all holidays in accordance with the Jewish calendar. Shefa nurtures our students’ commitment to Jewish values and teaches the skills to enable them to participate fully in Jewish life.

What support services are provided?

Students receive language and occupational therapy based on individual needs during the school day. A language therapist and an occupational therapist work with children both in and out of the classroom. These therapists also collaborate closely with teachers around daily classroom instruction. A psychologist consults regularly with teachers, specialists, and parents around questions regarding student learning styles and behaviors as well as social-emotional issues.

How are parents involved?

The Shefa School offers families a web of support and community. Through sharing Shabbat celebrations, holiday events, and developmental milestones, as well as through parent coffees, workshops, and times for celebration, we create an embracing Jewish community.

What about inclusion? Isn't it better to open a school that integrates typical learners with children who learn differently?

For us, the answer to this question is “both/and.” We believe that both inclusion models and stand-alone special education schools can be effective and appropriate for different kinds of learners. For many families, inclusion is an excellent option. However, each child is unique, and the needs and desires of the families in our community are diverse. Many Jewish parents choose to send their children to secular special educational schools, sacrificing a Jewish education in order to provide their child an appropriate academic program. We believe that families should not have to choose between a setting that meets their child’s academic needs and one that provides a Jewish education. The Shefa School offers families a new choice that previously did not exist — a Jewish community day school exclusively focused on serving the needs of children with learning differences