OU’s Yachad/NJCD to Present Its Annual Election Day Educational Conferences in New Jersey

15 Oct 2009


Once again this year, Election Day in New Jersey (November 3) will be an opportunity for teachers in New Jersey Jewish Day Schools as well as for their counterparts from around the country to improve their skills, as Yachad/National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD), a program of the Orthodox Union, presents two high-level conferences.

NJCD, which is directed by Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, is an agency of the OU that provides educational and social inclusion programs through its two major components, Yachad, for children and adults with learning and developmental disabilities, and Our Way for the deaf and hard of hearing.

The dual conferences — the New Jersey Statewide Professional Development Conference and the National Yeshiva Special Education Conference — will be presented Tuesday, November 3, from 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., at the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy in Livingston, NJ. These conferences are presented by the New Jersey Association of Jewish Day Schools and the National Association of Jewish Schools Serving Special Children respectively.

The conferences, with the shared theme of “Reaching the Full Potential of All Students,” will run simultaneously and will concentrate on general, Judaic studies, and special education, as well as serving children with special needs, providing educational advocacy, leadership development, teacher recruitment and training, and developing programs of inclusion.

In addition to New Jersey educators, special-education teachers from around the country are expected to attend. As in past years, over 800 educators are expected to participate in these conferences. Others will participate from around the country via video conference.

“The New Jersey Association of Jewish Day Schools is proud to say that this conference is the largest staff development program for Jewish Day Schools in the country,” declared Batya Jacob, Director of Educational Services of NJCD, and Associate Director of the New Jersey Association of Jewish Day Schools. “We have worked diligently to bring the cutting edge educational developments to our educators and to be able to use these programs for both secular and Judaic curriculums in the day schools and yeshivot which we serve.”

“At the same time, we believe that staff development is not a one-day process. We continue to work with schools throughout the year, bringing workshops and consultations to each school depending on its specific need.”

Mrs. Jacob also noted, “The National Association of Jewish Schools Serving Special Children strongly feels the responsibility to provide ongoing staff development and consultation to our special needs students whether they are in inclusive or self -contained classrooms. Recognizing the financial challenges that many of our schools are facing across the country, we have embarked on a project to bring the workshops to the educators via video or tele-conferencing, providing more educators the ability to access our experts.”

The Keynote speaker for both conferences, presenting the topic, Reaching the Full Potential of All Students, will be Marcia Booth, who has done extensive research to support the theses that most students have more ability and potential than they demonstrate in a typical classroom on a day-to-day basis. She will focus on the effect that educator’s expectations and messages have on student achievement at all levels.

The keynote will be followed by hands-on workshops to demonstrate the theories laid out in this address. The sessions are geared to early childhood, elementary school, middle school, high school, mental health, special education, administration, general studies and Judaic studies.

There are also three major changes in this year’s conference. Each school will be able to choose a speaker to work with intensively. This speaker will conduct follow-up workshops during the year at the school. During lunch break, meetings facilitated by staff members of the participating schools will take place, at which educators will share and exchange model lesson plans for use in their classrooms. Also, in partnership with Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education, three special education workshops will be made available by video conference in real time to allow participants who cannot come for the whole day to participate.

The following will be made available by video conference: Laying the Foundations for Kriah for LD students by Rabbi Yaakov Aichenbaum; Mentoring Our Students through the Classroom Management by Rabbi Dr. Stuart Grant; and, Alternative Assessments/Differentiating the Product by Rabbi Naftali Hoff.

Workshops topics for the Statewide Professional Development Conference for Teachers in New Jersey Jewish Day Schools include, Fairness and Mutual Respect in the Classroom by Alex Bailey; Rubrics: Redefining Assessment in the Judaic Classroom by Rabbi Naftali Hoff; Successful Literacy Centers by Christine Sowada; Emotional Intelligence: Connecting with God by Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, Executive Vice President Emeritus of the OU; Integrating Ethics with Classic Tanach Curriculum by Rabbi Menachem Leibtag.

The National Yeshiva Special Education Conference topics include, Memory: The Overlooked Learning Tool by Dr. Joel Dickstein; Effective Listening Skills by Dr. Jay R. Lucker; Muti-Sensory Strategies for Success in Math by Melissa Katz; Effectively Teaching Students with ADHD in the Classroom by Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, National Director of NJCD; Toolkit Strategies for Modifying Lesson Plans by Wendy Chesnov-Dratler.

Travel subsidies are available for educators traveling from outside the New Jersey and New York areas. For registration costs and for more information contact Batya Jacob at 212-613-8127 or 551-404-4447, jacobb@ou.org.