Fifth-graders at Livingston’s Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy/Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School just got a “promotion.”
Beginning in September, the fifth grade will be part of the middle school. Until now, the fifth grade has been part of Kushner’s elementary division.
In the process, three out of four fifth-grade teachers were let go, and one new teacher was hired.
The middle school now includes grades five through eight, under the leadership of principal Debbie Finkelstein.
Students will be eased into departmental education with what head of school Rabbi Eliezer Rubin calls “learning blocks.” Science and math are one block, English and social studies another, and Judaic studies are considered a third.
“We feel that our fifth-grade students will benefit from instruction from content experts, particularly in science and math,” said Rubin.
He instituted a similar change at the Ramaz School in Manhattan, where he served for 17 years, first on the faculty, then as headmaster of the middle school and finally as dean of the upper school. He came to Kushner in 2007.
A side benefit of the shift is the creation of two natural groupings — fifth- and sixth-graders, and seventh- and eighth-graders — for larger projects.
“We’re very excited about this change,” said Rubin. “It permits us to create a program for fifth-grade students that is more developmentally appropriate.”