Hebrew Preparatory School Expands Foreign Language Program, Welcomes New Teachers

Hebrew Preparatory School Expands Foreign Language Program, Welcomes New Teachers

New HPS instructor Sharon De Koning Kessel is expanding the school’s Hebrew program.

By Michelle Kaman

The Hebrew Preparatory School, an Austin Jewish day school and preschool, is expanding its foreign language program.

Hebrew has always been a focus of its language immersion program in the preschool. With the addition of its new instructor, Sharon De Koning Kessel, HPS is expanding the Hebrew program from preschool immersion and elementary reading and writing to Ivrit B’Ivrit, a program not unlike the Hebrew language programs offered to new immigrants to Israel. Ivrit B’Ivrit, or Hebrew in Hebrew, offers students a chance to expand comprehension, language and conversation skills. This innovative program is unique to HPS.

This program allows the students of HPS to transition language immersion learning from prekindergarten into the elementary classroom with the addition of phonics, writing and reading comprehension, much like English language arts programs. De Loning Kessel has an extensive knowledge of language acquisition and is herself multilingual. She moved to Austin in 2011 with her family after living in Holland for six years, where she learned Dutch and German. She grew up in Tel Aviv where she earned her degree in social science and history from the University of Tel Aviv. She loves to tell and write stories, some of which may be found on her blog, sharondekoning.net.

HPS welcomes another new teacher, Elena Killough, to expand its language arts program. Killough has lived in Texas on and off for the last 18 years. A specialist in English as a second language, she brings a passion to language arts that is a welcome addition to HPS. She earned her Master of Arts in foreign language education from the Russian State Pedagogical University in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she also worked for the United Nations.

Killough enjoys spending time with her children and enjoying all that Austin has to offer. She speaks English, Russian, German and Latin.

HPS has added Spanish to its curriculum, welcoming Eva Courtney as head of the new Spanish program. Courtney grew up not too far away in Brownsville, Texas, with six brothers and sisters. She majored in Spanish with minors in English and math from the University of Texas at Austin, where she met her husband of 25 years.

Before having children, Courtney taught algebra and middle school Spanish for almost five years. She brings an imaginative teaching style that fits right in with HPS’s play-based philosophy.

The Hebrew Preparatory School was the first Jewish school in Austin, then known as Bais Menachem Hebrew Academy. It was founded by Rochel Levertov to be a state-of-the-art learning institution serving Austin’s Jewish community through play-based, innovative methods. It serves ages 18 months through eighth grade. It boasts a language immersion program for the preschool, Imagination Playground (as seen at The Thinkery), and NeuroNet, a revolutionary learning and exercise program based in neuroscience. ■

To learn more about HPS or set up a time to visit, contact rlevertov@gmail.com or 512-977-0770 or visit hebrewprepschool.com.

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