At Akiva School, children and their families are greeted with warmth and enthusiasm, by the experienced staff as well as Head of School, Rabbi Eric Grossman. Seeing themselves as a true community, they value and celebrate the qualities of each individual and they truly have a comprehensive understanding of what their students need to learn and thrive during their elementary school years.

Here is what Rabbi Grossman had to say about the Akiva School philosophy and their unique approach to learning and student life.

Tell us about the school and what sets it apart from other private schools.

We are a Jewish elementary school that focuses on the individual child, creative learning and a holistic educational approach. We celebrate diversity and individualism in our students. We promote a collaborative environment where teachers and students work together in their learning and we give attention to all students according to their different needs. It is our warm, nurturing environment that really sets us apart. Our academic curriculum is tightly weaved with a strong social emotional focus and gives us a whole child approach to education.

We hear students describe school here at Akiva as “fun”? What does this mean exactly?

What our students describe as “fun” is in line with our focus on the Whole Child. At Akiva, it is important that the student experience be enjoyable and inspirational. Learning takes place inside and outside the classroom, and our education often spills over into the student extracurricular activities and student life.

We hear that Akiva is an educational leader in innovation. How do you use technology in school?

Technology is integrated into and driven by the curriculum. This year, we are very excited to launch our new state-of-the art Innovation lab, which is a platform to support the creative hands-on learning approach that has always been such an integral part of the Akiva philosophy. Our teachers are guided by our STEAM Coordinator to explore how technology can enhance the delivery of their programs. Teachers will move seamlessly from traditional print, to art-based projects to digital-based learning, with the use of technology infused in the process. It is done organically as part of the whole educational experience. Digital citizenship is taught as part of our social emotional piece and how we interrelate with others around us in our community and our world.  We see it as part of the overall growth for our students.

With all this technology in your school, we hear that you also still have the traditional “old-fashioned” activities for your students as well.

Yes, we have book clubs, chess, knitting, board games and other hands-on activities because we balance our cutting-edge technology with traditional tactile learning.  We are preparing our students to enter a technological world while at the same time addressing the human developmental needs that are physical and collaborative in nature.

What’s the best way to know if your teaching philosophy is working?

We see how happy the students are, and this has always been the priority for us. Research tells us that happy students who feel confident to take risks in their learning process actually learn better. Our Alumni tell us that they feel their success in higher education is because of their strong sense of self and self-confidence they attribute to their years here at Akiva School. Many schools are focused on the product they produce and not the actual experience of the students while they are in the school. The experience is what is important to us. It is not just about the result – it is the journey as well.