Valley Beth Shalom Harold M. Schulweis Day School

Valley Beth Shalom Harold M. Schulweis Day School is a K–6 Jewish elementary school in Encino that teaches Jewish values, critical thinking, social-emotional learning, creativity, leadership and social justice. Founded more than 40 years ago, the school offers an athletics program, Innovation Lab, art studio, robotics, musical theatre, chess, invention club and visual arts.  

How does your school empower kids and give them a voice?

“We follow a student-centered approach to learning. Students are empowered to make decisions that impact their curriculum and their class, from choosing book club genres and titles to naming our school pets. Students are encouraged to participate in student council, to donate weekly to student-driven tzedakah (charity) collections that benefit the organizations of their choice, and sixth grade students select individual passion projects and spend months learning and sharing them.”

Speak about the concept of playful learning.

“We celebrate the idea of purposeful play, knowing that play encourages academic development, collaboration and curiosity. From physical education, which all students participate in three times per week, to hands-on science and technology classes, our students are constantly moving and interacting with each other and the world around them.”

Does your school give kids a window into other cultures?

“We don’t just learn and teach about other cultures; we live them! Our highly diverse faculty and student body include more than 15 countries of origin, bringing firsthand knowledge and experience to discussions and celebrations throughout the year. VBS Day School families include a range of socio-economic and professional backgrounds. At our Jewish day school, all students learn Hebrew and explore Judaism around the world with special emphasis on Israel and Zionism. Our curriculum culminates in a sixth grade capstone trip to Israel.”

Does your school appeal to kids through technology?

“We aim for a balanced approach to the use of technology. Each child has a smart device to aid in their studies. However, we integrate the use of these devices into the curriculum rather than treat them as their own discipline. Students regularly work in class and at home using paper and pencil, and read paperback books, in addition to turning in assignments and projects through our web-based curriculum platform. Additionally, our Boudai Innovation Lab is a cutting-edge makerspace featuring 3D printers, robotics, power tools and a production studio for immersive video creation, providing technology-based, hands-on learning that helps with critical thinking skills and boosts self-confidence.”