12/08 - Parochial schools balance group, individual learning - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Education News

12/08 - Parochial schools balance group, individual learning

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Posted: Monday, December 8, 2003 8:42 am | Updated: 1:54 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Scottsdale’s King David School has nearly 200 students whose parents decided private parochial school was the best educational choice for their children.

Many pay more than $7,000 in annual tuition to send their children, in kindergarten through eighth grade, to the Jewish community day school.

Judy Bassett’s 8-year-old son Stephen is now a thirdgrader at the school the family has embraced since he was a kindergartner.

"We wanted a parochial school for our son, and it had a good reputation," said Bassett, who has two younger children.

Scholarships are available through the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix to help families who qualify, with a Dec. 31 deadline.

Small class sizes, including Stephen’s class of 13, and a private school’s ability to offer many extras helped Bassett make her decision.

"They have a very wellrounded education in terms of the arts and P.E.," she said. "They teach wonderful values and morals. And they can individualize education. My son, for instance, accelerated in math and they can do that for him because the classes are small. They can do group learning."

The school welcomes students of reform, conservative and orthodox Judaism, and 30 percent of the day is spent teaching religion and Hebrew.

Ellen Lawson said a new program this year highlights another aspect a private school can offer — laptop computers for all sixththrough eighth-graders.

"It introduces the technolog y to them in a very practical, everyday way," she said. "It also levels the playing field in every home."

Lawson’s 12-year-old son Sam is in sixth grade and son Jon, 9, is in fourth grade. It’s helpful to families if children can learn religious studies and Hebrew at school, freeing up Sunday and weekday afternoon for other things, Lawson said. Her daughter Lisa will begin kindergarten next year.

"It really makes their day stimulating," she said. "Because they’re learning another language, and they’re learning Judaics along with their secular curriculum. It’s very challenging and very warm all at the same time." Lawson said the higher price of private school versus public is worth it. Parent involvement is high at the school, she said.

"I think any family that wants their child in a very challenging academic environment that will meet the needs of the individual student," should consider private school, she said. "We really wouldn’t want our kids anywhere else."

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