Hebrew Preparatory School Begins Renovation to Keep Up with Surging Demand
Young scientists examine nature. Credit: Roni Saad.
By Michelle Cohen
The hallway of the Hebrew Preparatory School of Austin is filled with the sounds of both English and Hebrew coming from the school’s classrooms. Founded 23 years ago to cater to a budding Jewish community, the only Hebrew immersion school in Austin,now cannot keep up with demand.
Renovations have begun to open up new classrooms for next year, and a capital campaign for an expanded new center is launching this month.
Most families in the school are not traditionally observant. A cutting edge math and sciences program, coupled with the bilingual education, is causing more and more parents to seek out this Jewish private school.
“My parents sent us a Hebrew workbook from Israel,” parent Galit Lavie said, “and we were shocked that our American-born children were able to complete it successfully!”
School director Rachel Levertov said, “Studies have shown that children who are educated in a second language score ahead of their peers in problem solving, memory and literacy. So in addition to nurturing a connection with their heritage, we are able to give our students a step up after they graduate.”
The program begins as early as preschool.
“We start with speaking Hebrew to the two year olds, ensuring that they receive the building blocks of the vocabulary,” Levertov said. “In kindergarten they study reading, writing and language comprehension, in English and Hebrew, both at advanced levels.”
“The classroom experience is enriched with Israeli songs, books and activities, reminiscent of my own preschool experience in Israel,” parent Ilana Nesher said. “After enrolling our daughter, we quickly noticed a marked improvement in her Hebrew, but we were especially delighted when she recently started responding in Hebrew as well.”
Beyond academics, the warmth and familial atmosphere infused in the school has become legendary among locals.
“As one of our friends put it, it feels like you’re leaving your child in the care of close family,” parent Shlomit Kirsch said. If my son cries, there’s always someone there hugging and consoling him. I’ve watched my son flourish and grow over the past few months, thanks to the Hebrew Preparatory School.
And seeing the big grin on his face when we arrive in the morning is the most important thing of all.”
Hebrew is just the beginning. Over the past few years, Levertov has been planting the seed for a Spanish program, hiring Spanish-speaking staff to nurture familiarity with the language at an early age. A Spanish program is being inaugurated this September.
“Our children are our future,” Levertov said, “and we owe them the highest level of education.” ■