SIA’s Evening of the Arts: How We Express Ourselves

Students performing SIA’s Evening of the Arts program

On Thursday, March 24, a packed house of Strelitz International Academy parents watched their children perform on stage, many for the first time! After two years of Covid mitigations, including no family programs or performances, SIA’s Evening of the Arts: How We Express Ourselves was everything our families have been anticipating. The proud parents were smiling from ear to ear, some even cried tears of joy.

“Originally scheduled for February 17, we decided to postpone the show to March in the hopes that Covid cases would go down, and we could plan for an in person student showcase. Parents have been longing for in person events, and we wanted to give our students the spotlight to show off all that they have been learning,” explains Janet Jenkins, Director of the Primary Years Program.

The evening kicked off with a Strings Performance showcasing SIA’s xylo-strings ensemble which included SIA violinists, cellists and percussionists. Students at SIA begin violin lessons in kindergarten and have the opportunity to add percussion instruments in second grade. The students were so excited to show off their new skills!

This was also the first Evening of the Arts since the school’s rebranding as the Strelitz International Academy. The show was a wonderful celebration of all the unique aspects of the school.

The program opened with the EY4 Classes singing, “One Small Voice” sharing the power that we have in changing the world. Other songs included Kindergarten’s Thankful Song, Second Grade’s Lean on Me, Third Grade’s ABC and First Grade’s It’s a Small World After All celebrating SIA’s international representation and emphasis on Global Learning.

Fourth Grade performed the prayers Adon Olam and Oseh Shalom in Hebrew while Fifth Grade students illuminated themselves – creatively dressed in black and lined with Glow Sticks and danced to Mi’Shenichnas Adar, a traditional Purim Song.

All 120 students got up on stage to perform the Finale – Oseh Shalom and Salaam which was followed by a reception in the Cardo.

Heather Moore, Head of School is so proud of SIA’s students and faculty members, “Everyone worked together to produce such a wonderful spring show in a relatively short amount of time. The students brought to life SIA’s Evening of the Arts in a way that perfectly combined their learning of the Fine Arts, Global Mindedness and Jewish culture.”

The Fine Arts are an important part of the curriculum at the Strelitz International Academy. Students begin learning violin in kindergarten. In second grade, students have the option of switching to percussion or cello.

In addition, all students take a weekly art and music class. In art class, students learn about artists, popular art techniques and art appreciation. Music lessons focus on rhythm, beat, and reading music. Many SIA students continue their music studies in middle school after graduating from SIA.

The Strelitz International Academy is the community’s Jewish Day School and authorized International Baccalaureate® program for Infants through Grade 5. SIA is currently enrolling for the 2022-2023 school year.

To find out more and schedule a campus tour, please call 757-424-4327.

Skills Our Graduates Learn at SIA

A student getting the graduation certificate from Heather Moore

Strelitz International Academy is an International Baccalaureate® elementary school in Virginia Beach and centrally located near Norfolk and Chesapeake. Our students experience an inquiry-based curriculum in which they learn a number of skills. These skills are applied inside and outside of the classroom. Thus, creating well-rounded individuals with critical thinking abilities. As the best affordable private school, we are proud to offer a bit of wisdom on how our program works.

Learning at SIA-An IB® PYP School

At Strelitz International Academy, we believe in setting your child up for success. That is why outside of the core curriculum, we work to provide our students with the skills they need to be excellent students and productive adults. A school is a place for learning. And in addition to the academic lessons, students at SIA learn the motor skills and morals that make them better humans. This includes learning critical thinking and analytical skills, language skills, music skills, and global understanding.

Critical Thinking and Analytical Skills

Strelitz International Academy follows the International Baccalaureate® (IB) approach to learning. Consequently, this approach uses inquiry-based learning as its foundation. Because of this, students at SIA are encouraged to ask questions and find the answers through research and discussion. Similarly, students are provided the room to think critically and independently. The IB program allows students to use their critical thinking and analytical skills. This allows them to solve problems, answer questions, and have productive conversations with their peers.

Language Skills

Students at SIA develop language skills through the use and appreciation of Hebrew. Because of this, children learn the Hebrew language in conversational and biblical understanding. As a result, understanding a second language is embedded into the many teachings and classes that we offer. This includes our course titled, Jewish life and learning. As a result, students learn to take action from the lessons they learn.

Music Skills

Music is both an art and a science. As a result, children are given the opportunity to express themselves. This comes from the technical aspects of learning an instrument and the creative aspects of creating music. Because of this, our program at SIA exposes students to music and instruments at a young age. These various instruments-Suzuki violins, other string instruments, recorders, and bells-allow students to explore the Jewish culture and build a creative foundation. Many of our graduates go on to take orchestra or band in Middle and High School because of their music foundation at SIA.

Global Understanding

The social studies program at SIA exposes students to a variety of cultures and communities. As a result, students learn the importance of their actions in regard to the world around them. We work with programs such as National Geographic Explorers and Empatico. This allows our students to connect with a global community. With the knowledge and ideals they learn, students feel empowered to be better global citizens.

Graduates of SIA

At SIA, children learn a variety of skills and lessons with the IB® program. Therefore, students who graduate from SIA, go on to become well-informed, productive, and high-achieving members of society. These skills help them be successful in all areas of life. As a result, our students become critical thinkers with analytical skills, multi-lingual, talented, and global citizens. Our students gain a wonderful foundation to set them up for success in Middle School and High School. During their last year at SIA, students are advised of top middle school programs in the area. Our students successfully transition to these programs with the skills they need to be successful.

Best Private Elementary Schools Virginia Beach

If you are looking for the best private elementary school in the Tidewater area, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, or Norfolk, Strelitz International Academy is here to help. We pride ourselves on the inquiry-based learning approach provided by the International Baccalaureate® program. The skills our graduates learn, set them up to be successful students and adults.

Interested in learning more? Check out our website to see how your child could develop and grow these invaluable skills. We are currently enrolling for the 2022-2023 school year and would love to see your child thrive.

To find out more and schedule a campus tour, please call 757-424-4327.

Helpful Transition Tips for Early Years Students

Some kids are doing coloring activities

We were so excited to see so many smiling faces greeting us on the first day of school. This can be such an exciting time for many of us, either joining the school community for the first time or transitioning to a new age level and a group of friends and teachers. This can also be a challenging transition for some, as many of our early learners have built a trust and comfort level with their teachers from last year. Additionally, several of our students have been away from the school setting for the summer and are reacclimating to our environment.

That being said, what can we all do to help make this transition as smooth as

– Little things from home can sometimes make our children feel more comfortable: a blanket, a stuffed animal, or for infants and toddlers, a scarf or shirt with mommy’s smell. Photographs also help. Many of our teachers have a family board with pictures to help bridge school and home.
– Establish Rituals and Routines. Young children thrive on routine and consistency, and developing these is key in making sure they feel safe in new environments. Developing a quick, simple way to say “good-bye” and reassuring your children that you will return will help separation go more smoothly.
– Be Positive. Our children are incredibly intuitive. They sense and feed off of our anxiety and hesitation. Present school as a safe place where your child will learn new things and make friends. Continue to bridge the home/school connection by talking with your child about their teachers and use our newsletters to show you are excited about what they are doing in school.
– Lastly, feel free to reach out to your child’s teachers or administrator about the day. We want both you and your children to have a great day after drop off, and if you need a little reassurance as to how the day is going, just give us a call or send a quick message.

Adapting to their new environment and overcoming separation anxiety takes time for some of us, both young and old. Worked through correctly, these can be great learning opportunities for our children and us.

At Strelitz International Academy, our Early Years program cultivates students for the day when they will be responsible, compassionate citizens and leaders. As the first official Primary Years IB Programme in Hampton Roads, SIA’s Early Years curriculum emphasizes the development of the whole child, including social, emotional, physical and intellectual growth. The IB® World School aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

Each classroom incorporates SIA’s values of respect, community, repairing the world, love of learning into the daily routine and provides opportunities to talk about and practice these values. The student’s experience is designed with opportunities to develop independence and self-confidence. As children grow as learners in the Early Years Program, we work to instill a sense of joy and confidence in all they do. Teachers and students work together to develop learning activities that further develop readiness skills in a variety of content areas including language arts, math, science, and social studies.

To learn more about Strelitz International Academy and our Early Years Program, please call 757.424.4327.

Here’s to a great new year and more smile-filled days!

Why Is Early Childhood Education Important?

Students Learning at Early Years Programme

The “early” in Early Childhood Education is generally defined as the period of time between when a child is born and when he or she first enters kindergarten, which is normally between the ages of 4 and 6.

During this time period, young minds are like sponges, soaking up as much knowledge as they can while also learning how to walk, talk, interact with others, and learn about “right” from “wrong.” For example, they may not understand why water boiling in a pan on the stove is dangerous, but when properly “instructed” and directed, they can learn that they should not touch it. Similarly, they can learn positive behaviors through a logical rewards and consequences that get them to understand what is expected of them as they make their way through life and take on greater responsibilities in the process.

Early Childhood Education is more than just teaching basic educational skills. It’s also a time to gain critical emotional and social aptitudes. This is why the staff, administration, and teachers of Strelitz International Academy so firmly believe in inquiry-based education—as opposed to the standardized curriculums used in public school. It’s why we chose to meet the rigorous demands of becoming an International Baccalaureate (IB®) candidate school, offering their Primary Years Programme (PYP) to students between the ages of 3 and 12 (kindergarten through 5th grade).

The IB® is an international educational foundation founded in 1968 with a mission to create a better world through education. The PYP seeks to nurture a child’s natural curiosity so they can take control of their learning. With teachers acting as collaborators to education, the environment created helps students excel in their studies as well as their personal growth, addressing the overall needs of the child as a whole.

The base for the IB’s educational programs is built on the Five Approaches to Learning, which include:
– Thinking skills
– Communications skills
– Social Skills
– Self-Management skills
– Research Skills

We understand that every child learns differently. We believe that by being an IB® program elementary school with small classroom sizes, teachers have a better opportunity to interact with each of the students and can provide additional assistance if they hit any roadblocks along the way.

Through inquiry-based learning, those students can build a better understanding of why things are the way they are, and what their responsibilities are and will be as humans–at home or school, in their communities, and as citizens of the world. This forms a lifelong love of learning that helps our students excel as they travel down their chosen paths.

It also helps children form lifelong relationships with other students that will serve them well as they move forward with their education and then into the real world. This can be instrumental in helping them get good jobs, starting businesses together, collaborating on projects, or just moral support from a trusted peer.

We invite you to come join us, learn more about our curriculum and our dedication to helping children learn so we can get their journey started.

Celebrating Jewish Holidays at Private School

Celebrating Jewish Holidays at SIA

One of the greatest things about being a Jewish Day School, a member of the Virginia Association of Independent Schools, as well as an International Baccalaureate (IB®) Primary Years Programme (PYP) candidate school servicing Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Norfolk is that we get to have a lot of fun while we learn. This includes learning about the history of the Jewish religion and culture including the customs and traditions we follow.

We saw an example of that recently when we celebrated Purim at school. Our Early Years Program students learned about and fulfilled the four mitzvot of Purim including:
–    Hearing the Megillah: Our EY students not only had an opportunity to hear the Megillah, they then set out to help make a copy of it. Each class from the toddlers to EY4 created a panel that depicted the story of Queen Esther, the heroine of the tale, when the panels were brought together. The toddlers through EY3 students got to hear the Megillah read in person by Morah Elyssa, while the EY4 classes were able to stream the reading in real time through the miracle of technology.
–    Mishloach Manot: The second mitzvah of Purim requires us to give gifts of at least two different kinds of food to others. Each class fulfilled this mitzvah by creating gift baskets filled with Purim treats that were then given to our office staff and our school security guards, Ramon and Mark.
–    Give Tzedakah: While most of our Purim celebration was about having fun while learning, the third mitzvah is teaching the importance of giving tzedakah. This is a Hebrew word meaning “righteousness,” but is commonly used to signify giving charity. This is viewed as a moral and ethical practice, which is not only good for the recipient(s), it’s an important part of building good moral character and developing good citizens of the world.
–   Have a Festive Time: You don’t need to ask Early Years students twice to have a good time, so this was the easiest mitzvah to fulfill. Our students participated in costume parades, played games, rocked out at a dance party, and enjoyed lots of delicious treats including popsicles, cotton candy, and hamantaschen, the famous cookie that is named for Haman’s ears. These cookies commemorate Esther’s victory over Haman and his plot to destroy the Jewish people.

Many special thanks for the teachers who helped make this celebration memorable and joyful for all of our students. We all had an amazing time celebrating Purim and the coming of Shabbat.

Looking for a Jewish Day school serving Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Norfolk? Come visit Strelitz International Academy and let us tell you more about our International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP). The mission of the IB program is to build a better world through education. Our mission is to enrich the life of the whole child, to develop compassionate, lifelong learners, and to promote a social and global consciousness that encompasses a profound respect for all humanity. Please join us!

What is The Secret to Learning?

Students of Early Years Programme

When it comes to education, young people are like sponges, ready to soak up as much as they can from the environment around them. However, as Lorna Orleans, our Director of the Early Years Program notes, if they are not “engaged” in what you are trying to teach them, you might as well save your breath. However, when children are engaged, they begin to ask lots of questions, especially in a group environment where they can share ideas and gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter at hand.

According to the International Baccalaureate (IB), an international educational foundation headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland that was established in 1969, there are five Approaches to Learning (ATL), that are important in the development of young minds. Those approaches including:

  1. Thinking Skills
  2. Communication Skills
  3. Social Skills
  4. Self-Management Skills
  5. Research Skills

At Strelitz International Academy, we understand the importance of getting students involved as opposed to having them memorize facts and figures, then being able to recite them back at an appropriate time (tests). We also understand that different students learn in different ways, which is why the five ATLs are also so important. This is just one of the reasons why we are not only one of the best elementary schools in the Hampton Roads area, we’re also one of the best affordable private schools, ready to provide your students with lessons and experiences that make learning fun. More importantly, keeping them engaged helps them to satisfy the five Approaches to Learning.

Some recent activities noted by Lorna Orleans showing these principles in action include:

    1. An EY2 class learning about shapes from food. In addition to eating crackers that were both square and rectangular, they made pizza, noting that it is traditionally round, but when cut into pieces they make up triangles.
    2. In an EY3 class, instead of simply reading to students, the teacher read a story to the class first, then prompted them to create props they could use when retelling the story at home.
    3. Our EY4 teachers guide their students in drawing connections they hear about in “read alouds” with moments from their own lives.

We encourage our parents to continue these learning moments at home or even when on vacation with their children. Learning is a life-long pursuit. Let’s keep it fun and interesting.

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