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August 30, 2015 / 15 Elul, 5775
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Celebrating Two Decades Of Special Education At YESS!

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“What makes YESS! unique is that in most programs, a class can consist of a group of children, each of whom can have different issues, which makes it difficult to educate the class as a whole,” explained parent Bernice Pearlstein, whose son graduated from YESS! this past June. “Here each child is evaluated in every subject and they can be placed in different classes, either within YESS! or in YCQ, for different subjects. There is no program anywhere that allows for so much flexibility. My son gained tremendously from his two years in YESS! and will be moving on to a mainstream yeshiva next year.”

Both parents and teachers alike find YESS! to be a place that is conducive to bringing out the best in each student.

“I see YESS! as a nurturing environment, full of warmth, where the staff really focuses on the students and who they are as individuals, which enables the students to recognize the potential within themselves and allows them to grow,” commented teacher Rachel Avner. “Rabbi Lustig is so kind and involved, every student knows he is there for them. The teachers go above and beyond when it comes to nurturing their students, with many hosting shabbatons for their current and past students. Maybe it’s because of the environment created by the administration and teachers, but the students are the sweetest you will find anywhere, with one student who bakes a cake whenever a classmate has a birthday and the graduates who donate their maaser money to YESS!.”

“YESS! is different than every other program I have worked for in that the YESS! administration is extremely hands on,” added teacher Henny Hoch. “They don’t just work behind the scenes. They are always available for students and teachers alike. Instead of sitting in their offices all day, they are in our classrooms multiple times per day, making sure that each student is receiving the attention and education they need. Even after three years, YESS! continues to shock me with how far they are willing to go to accommodate and assist each parent and child.”

YESS! prides itself on the individualized attention it provides to each of its students, allowing each child to progress at their own pace. Knowing that academic difficulties go hand in hand with other issues. including organizational difficulties, problems with time management skills and social issues, the staff evaluates the whole student in order identify and remediate the key issues that are impeding the child’s academic success. State of the art technology at YESS! includes a computer lab offering specialized math and reading programs as well as Smart Boards, enabling teachers to come up with creative and exciting ways to help students master academic concepts.

YESS! maintains a close relationship with its parent body in order to achieve maximum success with each child and welcomes parent involvement, which includes inviting parents to two annual conferences to review their child’s individualized educational plan. The yeshiva also works with the local school district’s Committee on Special Education, counseling parents on related therapy services provided by the Board of Education. Many of these services, which can include physical therapy, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and counseling, are provided on site during the school day and YESS! also works with parents to arrange the free door to door bus service which is provided by the Board of Education for all children in self-contained special education classes.

While the ultimate objective at YESS! is to completely mainstream the students into YCQ whenever possible, in some cases students are mainstreamed only for certain activities or classes, which can include lunch, recess, art, music, gym or library and some YESS! students have earned spots in the YCQ choir and on the basketball team. While some students continue on the special education track throughout their scholastic careers, others have been accepted to high schools such as North Shore Hebrew Academy, Yeshiva University High School, Darchei Torah and Magen David, with one former YESS! student graduating from Princeton with honors. Today, many early students have professional careers and families of their own, as well as being vital members of the Jewish community.

“Our students acquire a sense of self esteem here that they could never have gotten anywhere else,” reported Mrs. Goldstein. “Sometimes special needs kids are dragged through a mainstream education and they are continually met with failure. We help our students meet their challenges so that can succeed and the resulting self esteem carries through even after they leave YESS!.”

About the Author: Sandy Eller is a freelance writer who writes for numerous websites, newspapers, magazines and many private clients. She can be contacted at sandyeller1@gmail.com.


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