As a whole, the ATT’s REACH program ensures that all Jewish students can attend the Jewish day school of their choice. It’s impact, though, can be best understood on the individual level, by the students, families and teachers this program affects. For teachers, REACH staff offer training, resources and additional support so that students with different learning needs can succeed in their classrooms. All of the students as a whole benefit when their classmates can keep up with the classroom material. And most importantly, the individual students enrolled in REACH have the resources they need to thrive in a Jewish day school.
Watch one story of a Yeshivas Tiferes Tzvi student, Nechemia Marder, to understand the impact of REACH on one student’s education. His father, Rabbi Josh Marder, says, “When we heard that YTT was incorporating this new program, the REACH program, we were apprehensively excited! And we were very hopeful. And we were still worried. As the academics and the educational experiences become more serious, more rigorous, we watched the school adapt. We watched REACH adapt. We watched our son adapt and to shine in the ways that he does.”
And as our community has grown and educational standards have shifted, the ATT has evolved as well. Today, our leaders in Jewish education have risen to the challenge to create an educational environment that meets all children’s learning needs. It’s a vision that requires dedication, educational best practices and resources. Thanks to the generosity and leadership of this city, Chicago is rising to the challenge with REACH.
REACH is the first strategic and coordinated effort to address a system-wide need to be more inclusive, building the capacity of the Jewish day school system to teach and care for students with a wide range of needs. REACH gives Jewish day schools the tools to meet the needs of the whole student, including their academic, social- emotional, and physical health needs, so that students with a wide range of learning styles, abilities, challenges, and special needs can access a meaningful Jewish education that is reflective of their families’ values. REACH does this by weaving together existing resources and services, establishing new systems and protocols, and delivering a range of assessment and consultation services.
REACH partners with day schools in greater Chicago around four main service areas:
- Direct services
- Professional development
- Community collaboration.
REACH services fall into four main categories: Direct Services, Consultation, Professional Development, and Community Collaboration. Specific audiences and activities are in the table on the following page.
REACH frames its approach as addressing neurodiversity in the classroom using a strengths-focused approach to the practice of differentiating instruction for the neuro-diverse brain. This approach can be used when working with all students but is especially useful for helping teachers and administrators approach students who have challenges. REACH’s philosophy is also influenced by the thoughts of Collaborative Problem Solving and the idea that students do well if they can and that success is based on skill, rather than will. Using research based methods, REACH delivers Professional Development founded on models of best practice and data driven information.
As a community with REACH, we are changing Jewish day schools, one child and one classroom at a time. Nechemia Marder says, “I’ve been in REACH since I was in first grade. I feel like my REACH teachers really care a lot about me so does my Rebbe. I really feel like I can walk from it and I can’t wait until I am an adult and you never know, I might be a REACH teacher myself.”
For more information about REACH, contact the ATT at firstname.lastname@example.org.