By Sharon Rapoport
Last month, the Barona Band of Mission Indians awarded students and teachers at Kavod Elementary School a $5,000 Barona Education Grant.
Before the grant award ceremony, L´CHAIM’s team got an opportunity to tour Kavod´s facilities, located on Marathon Drive (the school is actively seeking a new campus). Kavod is unique in that it is a public charter school in which modern Hebrew is taught.
We walked through the classrooms, each bearing the name of a city in Israel: Tel-Aviv, Dimona, and so on. The thought of an American public school in which the classrooms are decorated with signs in Hebrew, was mind-blowing in a great way. Hebrew teachers are native speakers, and it was moving to see little kids of all backgrounds shaking it to the tune of Yadaim Lemalá al Harosh (the Hebrew equivalent of “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”).
Ellen Mann, the volunteer parent who gave us the tour, said: “I’ve never seen teachers and staff more dedicated to a higher standard of educational excellence. It is a school where students learn a second language, which makes it even more valuable, since in today’s world a global perspective is essential, and we also know the benefits of second language acquisition for the brain.”
“Kavod serves an extraordinary function – it normalizes Israel and the Hebrew language for a large group of diverse people in San Diego. Students here, and by extension their families and communities, learn that Israel is a democratic country of great diversity, accomplishment, and beauty. It is not just a headline on the news”, Mann added.
Afterward, at the grant award ceremony attended by the students and teachers, the national anthems of both the U.S. and Israel were sung. Then, Barona Tribal Vice Chairman Ray Welch presented the $5,000 check to Senator Marty Block, the grant’s sponsor, and Alexa Greenland, the school´s Principal.
“Once again, the Barona Band of Mission Indians has demonstrated its commitment to the community and education,” said Senator Marty Block. “Kavod Elementary’s mission to promote a modern Hebrew-English program offers a unique multilingual learning opportunity for San Diego families. I commend and thank the Barona Band for its generosity and commitment to education.”
Clifford LaChappa, Chairman of the Barona Band of Mission Indians, added: “As a relatively new charter school, Kavod Elementary has a need for basic classroom materials. We are proud to award the school this Barona Education Grant to provide teachers with more tools to instill academic excellence within each student.”
Kavod Elementary will use the grant money to purchase literacy learning centers, math manipulatives, hundreds of library books and auditory aids to assist the diverse needs of students.
Kavod is a small charter school founded in 2012 with approximately 136 students enrolled in this current school year. The school’s mission is to provide an excellent academic program while teaching modern-day Hebrew and developing socially responsible, respectful, global citizens. The 590 library books, 60 individual slate chalkboard, literacy and math manipulative materials and literacy listening centers purchased with the Barona Education Grant will be used within each classroom to bolster instruction, solidify abstract concepts and support students who need extra assistance including English as a Second Language and those with special needs.
The Barona Education Grant program is the first of its kind in California created and administered by a Tribal Government. The goal of the program is to create strong educational opportunities for the children of California building upon the success of the Barona Indian Charter School, which operates under a continuous improvement model. Schools throughout California can apply for educational grants from Barona to purchase much-needed supplies and materials that promote academic improvement. Each grant awarded by the Barona Education Grant Program is $5,000.
To learn more about Kavod elementary, visit kavodelementary.org.