Penelope and Michael Kaplan
What do you love about B’nai Shalom Day School?
B’nai Shalom has been part of our lives for a long time. I was doing the math recently, and I realized that our children have combined over 50 student-years at the school! We would not have it any other way. Penelope and I initially chose B’nai Shalom because I attended from Kindergarten through 6th grade (there was no middle school back then). However, there have been many other factors that have driven us to find ways to keep our children here.
Why did you choose B’nai Shalom for your children?
There are so many great aspects to this school: great teachers who are at the school because they care so much for the children; an environment that is safe both emotionally and physically; a strong connection with Jewish values. Above all, B’nai Shalom students receive a fabulous education that rewards critical thinking over rote memorization. We look at our children and we see happy people, who feel great about their place in this world. They know where they come from, and they know that they can do anything they choose.
The B’nai Shalom tagline is For Learning. For Leading. For Jewish Life. How do your children experience this at B’nai Shalom and in their daily lives?
When I think about the school’s guiding philosophy “For Learning. For Leading. For Jewish Life.”, I don’t have to look far to see the results in action. First, I can look at our oldest children, our first three graduates. Phoebe (Class of 2008) is studying Deaf Education, building off a love of languages which started with Hebrew while attending BSDS. She also spent the last year as president of UNCG Hillel. Isaac (Class of 2009) is focusing on an engineering degree that is rooted in his love of science experiments to which he was first introduced at B’nai. And, despite a heavy course load, he still finds time to be an active leader in NC State’s Hillel. Noah (Class of 2011) is applying to computer science degree programs after having been launched into a successful high school experience by BSDS.
In phase two, our triplets Sylvia, Daniel, and Jeremiah (Class of 2017) came along, and there was brief discussion about other schools. Many parents of multiples are strongly in favor of splitting them up in class to ensure they are treated as individuals. However, we stayed the course, and couldn’t be more pleased. While there are fewer opportunities to physically separate them, smaller class sizes allow their teachers to provide individual attention and customization of lesson plans. Not just for our children, but for every student in class. The teachers know they can reach Jeremiah through his love of aircraft and history, that Daniel’s sense of fairness and mathematical brain are keys to engagement, and that they will have to work to match pace with Sylvia’s voracious reading appetite and gift for language skills.
Other parents have asked me if, looking back, we would do anything differently regarding our children’s education. I always say no, because I’m so confident that B’nai is the best place to be. However, on second thought, maybe I’d have a couple more kids, just so we could extend our time at the school…but I guess I’ll have to wait for grandchildren instead.