About our School
School Description: The Academies @ Gerrard Berman Day School provides a strong Judaic and Secular program in a diverse and supportive environment. An emphasis on leadership, Judaic studies, and academics builds a strong Jewish identity and a lifelong love of learning in our students. At GBDS, students undertake a Jewish journey, guided by warm and passionate educators. GBDS graduates develop a love of learning, a deep connection to Israel, and essential 21st century skills.
The Academies @ GBDS excels at meeting the individual needs of our students. Capitalizing on our small size enables us to educate the whole child. By creating a safe, secure, nurturing environment we encourage our students to respect diversity, feel a sense of belonging, and learn to be comfortable taking risks. Judaic and general studies have equal merit and importance at GBDS. Our curricula emphasize leadership, science, and the arts. A very high percentage of our graduates move on to Jewish and secular high schools with competitive admissions policies.
Areas of Strength: The Academies @ GBDS features three areas of focus, as well as affording enriching learning experiences in language arts, social studies, physical education and other subjects.
Judaic Studies: The Judaic Studies program at GBDS includes a comprehensive curriculum that builds as the student progresses through the grades.Our Judaic Studies and Hebrew Language curricula begin in preschool through songs, dance, storytelling, holiday observances and weekly Kabbalat Shabbat services. Our Elementary students learn Hebrew Language and Judaic Studies through the Tal-Am Hebrew program which encompasses not only Hebrew language, but also Chumash and Hagim. There is a strong emphasis on developing fluency in conversational Hebrew. Once in Middle School, our students continue to develop their Hebrew speaking skills. They also learn Chumash through the works of Rashi and other commentators. In addition, students begin the study of the Oral Torah, learning mishnah in 6th grade and Talmud in 7th and 8th grades. Many of our students continue their journey, finding success in the area’s Jewish high schools. Coupled with this is the emphasis on Tefila as all students learn how to serve as a Shaliach Tzibbur and how to read Torah. The entire school comes together on Friday afternoons for Kabbalat Shabbat and holiday celebrations are marked throughout the school year.
Science and STEAM: September 2015 marked the launch of the GBDS Science Academy, with the goal of employing hands-on , inquiry and project-based learning and experiments at all grade levels. This innovative curriculum integrates the Next Generation Science Standards, the Engineering Design Process, and environmental awareness. A partnership with PicoTurbine/STEAM Rocks! has led to 3D design enrichment programs during school breaks.
Some notable examples of student projects are:
Building drawbots using small hobby motors and legs made using markers
Utilizing squishy circuits to make “hamantaschen” for Purim, with filling lit up with LEDs
Testing water quality of streams in the 40 acre Great Oak park adjacent to the school
Investigating cell growth in different conditions through guided inquiry
Building Rube Goldberg machines
Employing an earthquake shake table to test building codes
Designing and testing parachutes (with action figures not people!)
Participating in NJ Makers Day
The Leader in Me: The Academies @ GBDS is proudly the only Leader In Me Jewish Day School in NJ. Based on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, our Leadership Academy gives our students the 21st century skills needed for both professional and personal success. Several new initiatives have developed as a result of adopting the Leader in Me culture: the Middle School students created a Wax Museum exhibit called “Through the Eyes of a Leader,” and this year’s theme for the school play is “Robin Hood and the Leader in Me.” Additionally, at the end of the 2015-2016 school year, a premiere Leadership Day will celebrate our many successes. Please visit our school’s Leader in Me Blog for updates about how our school thrives using “The 7 Habits”.
Green Team: The Academies @ GBDS is committed to promoting practices that make the school more environmentally conscious and sharing those practices with the community. A school-wide recycling initiative, through our partnership with TerraCycle and Preserve Products, is bringing the school closer to the goal of sending zero-waste to landfills. This initiative was launched by constructing a large permanent mural, using plastic waste diverted from the cafeteria waste stream,which is displayed in our multi-purpose room.
This year, inspired by the Leader in Me, the Middle School students are planning, building, and maintaining a greenhouse and garden, thanks to a grant from Project Learning Tree. The 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students are in charge of all aspects of the project, including designing and building the raised bed gardens, and selecting, planting, and maintaining the gardens. The students will also design and print hydroponic gardening equipment using the 3D design program TinkerCad, eventually leading to year round gardening.
Arts: Our engaging visual and performing arts programs make the Academies at GBDS shine. During the school year students have the opportunity to perform in the talent show, the school choir or glee club, the school musical, the American Young Voices concert, and the Zimriyah. Students as young as 2 years old take the stage at GBDS, building their confidence and allowing all children to shine in the spotlight. The visual arts are not overlooked. All children attend class in the art room and may participate in making scenery for the school musical, murals for the walls, and banners for the annual Israel Parade. The Green theme is also apparent in artwork. Many art projects are created using upcycled materials: notably, last year’s “lunch box mural” and this year’s “message in a bottle project.” One of the highlights of the year is presentation of the 8th grade art project. Every year the graduating class creates a unique piece of art that is unveiled at graduation. Last year’s project was made from recycled computer parts. It joined the prior classes’ display, exhibited permanently in the school, as a legacy of the class’ time at GBDS.
Field Experiences: Learning extends beyond the classroom at the Academies @ GBDS. Every class experiences field trips and a vibrant guest speaker program. Trips are planned to local zoos and museums, including the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Middle School students visit the TEVA Jewish Environmental Retreat Center, Washington DC, and Philadelphia. The 8th grade trip to Israel is the culmination of the students’ learning experiences at the Academies at GBDS.