Epstein Hillel School boasts a curriculum that challenges the mind but also the heart. We want students to think deeply and question broadly, to look beyond the obvious to find solutions to problems both mundane and global. As they engage in experiential and service learning starting in kindergarten, we encourage and, indeed, expect students to consider how their learning can be used to better not just themselves, but the world.
Every Epstein Hillel classroom culture is based on respect, understanding, kindness, and joy. At the beginning of the year, each grade creates a covenant that spells out the principles by which it will abide. Teachers nurture this culture in morning meetings, problem-solving activities, and cooperative learning experiences, where students experience the benefits and responsibilities of being a member of a community.
Epstein Hillel’s LANGUAGE ARTS program comprises speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Hillel provides students with the foundation to become skilled, thoughtful, and effective communicators. Students are taught to value both listening and speaking and are explicitly taught strategies to aid their development in each. Students have ample opportunities to practice their oral language skills, from morning meeting discussions and partner discussions to oral presentations and our school play.
A love of reading and writing is instilled in our students from an early age, and Hillel students are immersed in good literature. Each classroom has its own library with a full range of “just right books” that cover a variety of genres, topics, and reading levels. Students and teachers make connections between reading and writing, using their insights in one discipline to deepen their understanding in another. Some of the concepts integral to reading and writing are audience, purpose, voice, structure, strategy, meaning, and craft.
Epstein Hillel utilizes a reading workshop instructional approach. In each class we create a community of readers and writers. Teachers and students read, write, and talk together about their work, and teachers model the skills and strategies that skilled readers and writers use. Student learning is supported through read-alouds, mini-lessons, small-group instruction, one-on-one teacher conferences, strategy groups, peer conferences, partner discussions, and book clubs.
Epstein Hillel’s SOCIAL STUDIES program prepares students to become competent and actively involved citizens with the ability and confidence to make informed, reasoned, and thoughtful decisions in a diverse and globally interdependent world. Through active inquiry, collaboration, and problem-solving, students build the necessary skills, knowledge, and conceptual understanding to explore political, social, and economic issues from multiple perspectives. Students apply their knowledge to confront multiple dilemmas, speculate, think critically, and make responsible personal and civic decisions as productive participants in a democratic society.
Classes come to life through in-depth research projects and hands-on, engaging learning experiences. Students act out time periods, create museums, engage in authentic research, and take part in simulations on developmentally appropriate levels.
Epstein Hillel’s MATHEMATICS program provides students with the necessary skills to problem solve effectively, reason mathematically, communicate their math thinking, and apply their knowledge to real-life situations across disciplines. The study of mathematics provides content and practices that help students understand how mathematics explains real-world phenomena and helps us make informed decisions as consumers and citizens in an increasingly diverse, global, and collaborative environment. Through differentiated instruction, the curriculum builds conceptual understanding, knowledge, and skills in the areas of number and numeration, operations and computation, data and chance, geometry, measurement, algebra, and beginning physics.
Our SCIENCE program prepares students to think as scientists, fosters a life-long love of the natural world, and encourages students to use scientific reasoning throughout their lives. Our science program builds upon children’s inherent curiosity about the world around them and helps them construct an accurate concept of how the world works. It includes a balance of the three disciplines of science: earth, physical, and life.
The JEWISH STUDIES curriculum at Hillel is designed to educate and empower students to access Judaism in ways that are most meaningful to them. We teach but don’t preach Jewish ritual and practice so our graduates feel a strong sense of belonging and Peoplehood anywhere in the world—especially in Israel. HEBREW LANGUAGE plays a vital role in establishing this connection while also exercising and strengthening other parts of the brain. Studying Hebrew as a foreign language offers the same benefits as learning other foreign languages and has the added advantages of training students to read a non-Latin-based alphabet and recognizing a right-to-left orientation.
Epstein Hillel’s ART program supports students as they develop an individual artistic vision informed by their own experiences, ideas, and understandings and grounded in the fundamental elements and principles of art. Each step of the process, from conception to creation, is valued and encouraged. In collaboration with their teachers and classmates, students seek to comprehend and communicate visual ideas in their own unique manner through a process of observation, discussion, exploration, revision, and reflection.
Students consider the role of art and of the artist in a variety of ancient and contemporary cultures as part of their investigation into artistic techniques and media. The art classroom is rich with opportunities for exploration, innovation, and reflection, encouraging a respect for the materials, tools, and ideas the community shares. This learning environment facilitates students’ inquisitive and open journey through the world of art.
Our MUSIC program fosters a love of music, an awakening of musical creativity, and an appreciation and deep respect for the music of many cultures. Through a hands-on approach to music, we embrace and facilitate student learning and personal growth through both individual expression and cooperative collaboration. Basic music concepts and skills are incorporated through the introduction and exploration of the music of many cultures, including folk, popular, and classical genres.
Much like at Jewish summer camps, music at Hillel serves as another shared language and entry point into Jewish life. We use music to connect to our history, our tradition, and each other. It’s another important part of Judaism that gives us comfort and belonging wherever in the world we might go.
The PHYSICAL EDUCATION program at Hillel is constructed to prepare children to be physically active and to make healthy choices throughout their lives. The physical education curriculum includes a balance of skills and concepts in the areas of health, games, and more. In order to achieve these goals, teachers establish a learning environment that supports students at all skill levels and fosters healthy self concepts.
Students are encouraged to take risks and are asked to try, fail, and try again. Teachers provide opportunities for students to work toward common standards at individual rates of development, and students are recognized for their success at their individual levels. Instructional decisions are based on ongoing assessment of the children’s skills, understandings, and needs in order to individualize instruction and promote progress towards the learning goals.
Lessons are designed with the children’s physical and cognitive development in mind. Cooperative and competitive activities are designed so that students learn how to work as part of a team and how to deal constructively with competition.