Attending To Special Needs

Attending To Special Needs

We’re glad to see SINAI Schools mentioned in the articles and dialogue about the need for more Jewish special education opportunities in New York City. It may surprise some of your readers to learn that about 25 percent of SINAI’s current students reside in New York City. These students make the trip to our Northern New Jersey elementary schools and high schools every day, and they are not alone in their travels. Families have relocated from all over the United States for the sole reason of being able to send their kids to SINAI.

SINAI was born some 30 years ago out of a clamoring that is not dissimilar to the one now going on in New York City. We were formed by a coalition of families, educators and community leaders who demanded a high-quality education for children with special needs within a yeshiva or Jewish day school — and not in a self-contained school. Since then, we’ve served some 1,000 children and teenagers with a wide range of learning and developmental disabilities in our “schools within schools.” We’ve maintained the balance between our small classes (our overall ratio is about one staff member for every two students) and the wide range of social and academic inclusion opportunities within the larger yeshivot in which each of our schools is set.

New York City families send their children to SINAI for a variety of reasons, which can be as different as each child we serve. The common threads have been the range of kids we can serve (we have schools that serve our many high functioning and even gifted children who have a wide array of learning disabilities; and we have schools that serve children who have a wide array of developmental disabilities); the lengths to which we go to create and implement a “tailor made” program for each student to meet his or her specific academic, social and life-skills goals; our Middle States accreditation, under which we must meet rigorous standards for our educational programs, as reviewed and evaluated by an independent accrediting agency; and most basically, word of mouth about what we do and how we do it, particularly the personalized attention and support we provide not only for our students but, also, for our parents.

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