With school a little more than a month away, Judy Groner is eager to begin her second year as head of school at the Perelman School in Elkins Park and Wynnewood.
With school a little more than a month away, Judy Groner is eager to begin her second year as head of school at the Perelman School in Elkins Park and Wynnewood. Groner said the students are going to be blown away by the Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math (STEAM) program that the school is implementing this year. Perelman School is an affiliate of Solomon Schechter Day School and is kindergarten through fifth grade.
School begins Sept. 8.
With a dual curriculum where students learn about general and Judaic studies, the program will allow more integration, she said.
“We’re so excited about it,” Groner said. “It will be an opportunity for general studies and Judaic studies teachers to work together.”
One of the focuses of STEAM is water and children will study political issues dealing with water, water in Israel, how California deals with the lack of water, water in biblical text, poetry and literature. Other aspects of the program are robotics, physics, engineering and maker spaces, which are classrooms where children to build things with minimal guidance from teachers. For example, students may be given metal pieces, a wire, a board and grapefruits and asked to create a metal circuit.
“It’s giving kids the ability through trial and error,” Groner said. “This is something that we’re doing incrementally.”
Groner said many elementary schools do not have maker spaces and the goal is to eventually have them in both schools.
As an educator for more than 30 years, Groner’s career has come full circle as she taught sixth grade Hebrew and Jewish studies at Perelman from 1979 to 1981. In 1982, she made Aaliyah to Israel where she lived for seven years. Then she moved back to America and was the head of school at B’nai Shalom Day School in Greensboro, N.C. from 1990 to 2013.
After commuting to Philadelphia for 10 years from Carolina to see her husband, who is a district attorney, she grew accustomed to the Jewish community. In 2013, former Head of School at Perelman, Jay Leberman reached out to her about filling his position.
“I had the best time at the interview. It was a click,” she said. “It’s wonderful because some of the same people are here. It’s a community; it’s not just a school. It’s no question people feel very much a part of it.”
Since returning to Philly, Groner has embraced the community. In her first year, she observed two things: technology plays a major role in education at Perelman and the parents are extremely involved. In today’s fast paced society, many children learn visually and the school has smart boards, Macbooks and Ipads.
“The level of parent volunteerism here is absolutely tremendous,” she said. “Technology is a tool. Technology itself is not education. Kids learn in so many different ways now.”