According to Karin Hepner, “Every child should be able to access a Jewish education.”  And, according to Hepner, Irvine Hebrew Day School (IHDS) will be the school that is fully inclusive regardless of your Jewish background.  “Anyone interested in this type of education [modern Orthodox foundation] can come to this school – we welcome students with open arms.”

What type of education is Hepner talking about? IHDS will include a rich and dynamic learning environment that incorporates Judaism, Torah, spirituality and general studies. And those involved in the school are “getting it right from the get go.” IHDS is committed to excellence in all areas of learning and views education as a collaboration between teachers, students, parents and the community. It is through this partnership that challenges are seen as opportunities for growth, and successes are celebrated together. The goal of IHDS is to have a full classroom and exceed academic expectations and instill a love for Judaism and Israel.

For Tammy Keces, building IHDS has been a “dream come true.” Keces is a long-time educator and Orange County’s only trainer in Certified Positive Discipline in the classroom. She is now the Principal of IHDS and will provide secular education. Positive Discipline is a program designed to teach young people to become responsible, respectful and resourceful members of their communities. “It teaches gratitude … ” says Hepner. “What better way to express that gratitude then learning about davening and Torah.”

Whether it is Torah, Hebrew, Geography or Mathematics, Board Member Andy Elster sees the school as “adding to the palette – another flavor in the Jewish Community.” And, says Jordan Gross-Richmond, “This will be a place where your children become the link to continuing tradition.”

A new school, with a new vision, IHDS does not lose sight of the pioneers of Jewish education in Orange County.  Mr. Irving Gelman and Rabbi Yitzchok Newman are seen as the pioneers of Jewish education in Orange County by all of those involved with IHDS.  “They created a garden within a dessert, and we are honored and humbled to follow in their footsteps . . . ” Says Hepner.

Positive Discipline  ★★★
Positive Discipline uses effective strategies to create engaging, supportive, peaceful and caring classroom communities. Curriculum design and implementation is grounded in the building blocks for communication: conducting classroom meetings, differentiating learning, discipline methods that focus on solutions and long-term learning, 21st century critical thinking and problem solving skills.

To find out more about IHDS or to download an application, go to
www.irvinehebrewday.org.  Look out for updates on enrollment and information in future issues of Kiddish!

Dr. Lisa Grajewski has been a contributing writer for JLife since 2004. She is a former professional in the Orange County Jewish community, with over 10 years experience as a volunteer and professional. Dr. Grajewski recently graduated with a doctoral degree in Clinical Forensic Psychology and is currently working toward licensure with a private practice in Tustin.