Before anything else, we are excited to announce that new enrollment for the 2014-2015 school year is now open!
We are excited to share with you the progress and developments we’ve made with Torah Academy of San Antonio in our first five months of existence as well as our outlook to next year and the future.
1) Our initial enrollment. When we submitted our grant application to the Jewish Federation, we estimated that our maximum student count would be 25 students. Well, we overshot that number by 20%, opening with over 30 students. And we’re proud to report that our enrollment remains at over 30 students in grades Kinder – 5th grade.
2) We’ve had some great programs for the students, with highlights including the following:
- A Veteran’s Day program, including the presentation of colors by VFW Post 76 and the singing of the national anthem. Check out the photos here.
- Special Chanukah/Thanksgiving Day Visit to our Local Fire Station where our students gave our firefighters sufganyiot.
- Chanukah Dinner and Chanukah Bowl, including a book made by our students in honor of a Refuah Sheleimah for our dear friend Refael Elisha Meir ben Devorah HaCohen.
- Field Trips to the Art Musuem and to watch the Tempest Trio performance.
3) Academically, our students are excelling. More than 50% of our Kinder and First grade students are working at material above their grade levels and are thriving. Similar academic progress can been seen across all of our grades as our teachers continuously seek to push each individual student to his/her academic potential. It is truly inspiring to watch the progress our scholars are making.
TASA applied for Accreditation through AdvancED: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. We were accepted as an applicant and went through the first step – self-evaluation and readiness visit. We are excited to report that we were determined to be ready for the next step and our status is now “Candidate”. The next step is the final step toward accreditation and our goal is to host the final accreditation visit in the Spring of 2015. For information on the academic standards used by AdvancED, please visit this page.
Our multi-age classrooms, while initially & primarily a maneuver meant to be fiscally sound with our start-up funds, have worked well. However, the board and administration are committed to ensuring our teachers receive continuing education on this model of differentiated instruction so as to fully exploit the benefits to our students and our organization of this classroom setup. For more information, we point you to Akiba-Schecter in Chicago that uses this model primarily as a pedagogical choice, educating over 300 students yearly in this manner.
4) Judaics. The sense of Jewish pride permeates the halls and classrooms continuously. From everyday morning prayers, to lunchtime food blessings and bentching (Grace after Meals), to our emphasis on Jewish ethics and middot, our students love being Jewish and express it throughout the day. Rabbi Marrus’ “Middot Marathon” continues to be a great success encouraging all our students to learn Jewish values in a fun and cooperative way.
5) Community Support. We have seen the community step up in a BIG way. Over SEVENTY-FIVE (75) families/individuals from San Antonio, Israel, and across the United States have contributed their money, time, and/or expertise to assist Torah Academy in our nascent year. We have been blown away by the support and are excited to build upon that for the coming years.
6) Recent Board Actions. At the meeting on January 29, 2014, the board approved the following related to the 2014-2015 school year:
- Classrooms for Next Year: Stand-alone Kindergarten, Combined 1st & 2nd Grades, Combined 3rd & 4th Grades, Combined 5th & 6th Grades
- Tuition: Remain fixed at $8,000 per student.
- School Hours: Remain 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM for all grades.
- Rodfei Space: TASA will work with Congregation Rodfei Sholom to EXPAND our footprint for next year within the building.
7) Our Outlook. The prognosis for TASA looks very positive. We have received tremendous interest from potential parents, particularly for our incoming kindergarten class (with some estimates at 10-12 students in the stand-alone class). We anticipate enrollment next year will be between 40-45 students, marking a nearly 50% increase from this year. And while we do not anticipate this to be a problem for this year, the board is aware that for 2015-2016, we may have to consider finding a location for the school that can accommodate our expected growth!
8) Our Finances. The board is proud to report that we are financially sound. To-date, TASA maintains a healthy bank account and a steady inflow of tuition and donations. We have not missed a single payment and have not had to take any extraordinary measures to stay afloat. The board and administration operate TASA as a business and we are committed to ensuring the fiscal-viability of our operations while continuing to invest in our students and teachers.
We have learned a lot since our first day of school and we continue to seek improvement in all areas of our organization. Our goal is to compete academically with the most prestigous schools in our area and we are confident that day is in the short-term.
Thank you for your support and trust and we look forward to an even more successful 2014.