School Spotlight: Solomon Schechter Academy celebrates 50th anniversary

Solomon Schechter Academy is a dynamic Jewish Day School that consists of one school with two streams: English and French. The school’s focus is on the needs and growth of its students in order to foster lifelong learning, a passion for excellence and a strong connection to Jewish values. We had a chat with the head of school, Steven Erdelyi, to find out more about this incredible facility, their goals, and how they will be celebrating their milestone 50th anniversary.

What really sets Solomon Schechter Academy apart from other private schools?

We believe in helping students become creative thinkers and strong leaders, and we want to instill a passion for excellence and Jewish traditions. We are always striving to find that perfect balance: We want students to have strong basic skills (English, Hebrew, French, math, science, etc.) but also those cutting-edge skills they need to excel in a world of tomorrow. For those reasons, we’ve been focusing on improving our SMART Floor, we’re focusing on students taking part in volunteering and fundraising outside the school, and more. We pride ourselves on meeting the needs of each child, whether a child needs extra support or would benefit from extra enrichment. The old model of everyone fitting into a box is gone.

Tell us more about your SMART Floor. This sounds very cool!

The SMART Floor affords students the opportunity to study science, music, computer animation, Jewish arts, robotics, theatre, chess, Israeli dancing, and technology, and introduces students to a curriculum that enhances critical thinking. Each class is specialized in a different, non-singular approach. For example, in our robotics room students are not just building robots but programming them and coming up with games and challenges, and then programming them to meet those challenges. We have an animation room where students are learning how to make films and are animating the characters. We offer a Judaic art class so students can link the different projects they’re learning in their Judaic curriculum, and our music class is creating a senior school band. We have even added a Makerspace where students can be creative thinkers - they come up with problems and try to solve them using different technologies. 

How does all this benefit the students, even later in life?

Well, it prepares students not just for high school but beyond.  When our students take standardized tests, they’re an average of two years ahead and often more in math, they are able to get into the high school of their choice, and they often come back as parents and will tell us how the foundation of their success is from their days at SSA, where they learned basic study skills that have helped them throughout their lives.

SSA has a unique way of recognizing students within the school – can you tell us about this?

We have monthly citizenship ceremonies where we focus on different values and reward students who are being good citizens with certificates. We share why those children got the recognition, and it’s all in an effort to spread kindness and good spirit.

Solomon Schechter Academy is great at staying connected with its student body. How do you stay in touch with the parents?

More and more, we are trying to get feedback from our parents and take their great ideas into consideration. Some of the parents wanted a hockey team a few years ago, we organized the team, and now we are in our seventh year and we’ve been very competitive. We also had a sukkah hop and a challah bake, which were other ideas from parents. Our goal is to spread that community spirit and warmth among our parents, and if they come to us with a good idea, we do our best to put it into effect.

Finally, a huge congrats on celebrating your 50th anniversary! What do you have planned?

The aim for this year is to have a culminating event in the spring where students will all participate in showcasing the history of the school. We want to raise school spirit and share it with the community at large, and really show how proud we are of Solomon Schechter Academy.