Serving Diverse Learning Needs at WDS

Westchester Day School’s track record of academic excellence has spanned more than six decades. Our students go on to the finest day schools in the tri-state area, attend leading universities and become world-class professionals in their chosen fields. Their journey to the top begins at and is cultivated by Westchester Day School. Our outstanding faculty is made up of experienced, professionally-trained, enthusiastic and caring teachers who model a growth-oriented approach by constantly seeking ways to advance their knowledge and pedagogic skills. Using a mix of proven, research-based methodology and innovative, creative instruction, our educational system is designed to meet the needs of each individual learner and to challenge them to reach their academic potential.
Dear Westchester Day School Community,

We are excited to announce upcoming school initiatives for the 2023-2024 school year. These are the results of the Serving Diverse Learners Project that was communicated to the community in January. Consistent with the educational goals that were articulated earlier in the year, we are working on a multi-year plan for enhancing the support we provide for diverse learners at WDS, both in terms of intervention and enrichment.  With the support of a group of funders led by Miriam and Ari Loren, we have spent this year researching, analyzing, and brainstorming ways to create a thoughtful and intentional plan to increase our capacity to serve all of our learners at Westchester Day School. 

Overview of Initiatives

Responsive Classroom: Our school community is beginning to learn and adopt the core principles and practices of Responsive Classroom. Responsive Classroom is an evidence-based approach to teaching that focuses on engaging academics, positive community, effective management, and developmental awareness. An initial team, including administrators and educators, is in the process of completing a 4-day intensive training. This team will work with the ELT to grow this program across our school. Next year, we will begin to implement specific practices from Responsive Classroom. 
Fly Five SEL Curriculum: The Center For Responsive Schools, the organization that developed Responsive Classroom, recently developed the Fly Five SEL Curriculum. This curriculum will replace our existing SEL curriculum to align with Responsive Classroom. The lessons explicitly teach a set of social and emotional competencies, namely cooperation, assertiveness, responsibility, empathy, and self-control (C.A.R.E.S.).

Social and Emotional Learning Coordinators: We are thrilled that our two SEL Coordinators, Donna Levinson and Nicole Plasky, will be taking the lead on implementing The Fly Five curriculum across our school. Donna will take on this role for Ganon while continuing as a 4’s classroom teacher.  Nicole will devote all of her time at WDS to this role for grades K-8. In collaboration with the ELT, they will both support the growth and long-term success of Responsive Classroom, Fly Five, and SEL language/structures throughout our school. 
English as a New Language (ENL) Coordinator:  With our growing number of students who need ENL support, we are so happy that Ari Toledano will take on this new role, in addition to his classroom responsibilities. With Ari’s support, we will streamline and increase our capacity to educate our non-native English speaking students both in the classroom and in small targeted groups. 

Early Childhood Intervention Coordinator: As we know from research, early identification and intervention are critical for child development. Lauren Kaplan is looking forward to using her background in human development and special education to partner with the Early Childhood team to strategically support students with developmental, behavioral, sensory, and learning needs to set them up for future success. 
Shefa Center Consultation:  Connected to the Shefa School, the Shefa Center is a hub for professional development, consultation, and training. Westchester Day School will partner with the Shefa Center to better understand, support, and educate our students with diverse learning needs. Next year, consultants from the Shefa Center will visit our school, observe classrooms and non-classroom times, and meet with educators and administration to continue to plan our next steps as a community. 

We are all excited and inspired to grow and learn as a school community and believe this work will have a powerful impact on all of our students, families, and educators. As we move forward with these initiatives, we are committed to continued research, evaluation, and thoughtful planning of our next steps to further our support and enrichment programs. These initiatives are also in addition to our continued focus on classroom based systems for small group learning and differentiation to support our student’s learning needs. 
We look forward to continuing this work together and will communicate updates throughout next year. 

The Serving Diverse Learners Project Task Force
Rabbi Rockoff, Amy Ament, Naomi Adler, and Lauren Kaplan 

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856 Orienta Avenue
Mamaroneck, NY 10543

Who We Are

Westchester Day School is a Modern Orthodox, co-educational, dual-curriculum, toddler to 8th grade Jewish school that inspires and educates our students in their own way to value menschlichkeit, mitzvot, and lifelong learning.