- Shimon Rokhkind
Interview With Rabbi Dr. Kobrin: Changes Coming to NSHAHS Next Year
Recently, Rabbi Dr. Kobrin and Mr. Miller sent an email to the student body with a host of changes coming to NSHAHS next year, including an added period, new electives and a reduction in midterms and finals. I spoke with Rabbi Dr. Kobrin to find out more:
Shimon: Thank you Rabbi Kobrin for sitting down with me. Many students have expressed concern that to make time for an extra period next year, break time between classes and breakfast will be shortened. Is that what is going to happen?
Rabbi Kobrin: No, these times will not dramatically change. We don't want to cut down on the time students get to socialize and get work done throughout the day.
Shimon: Seeing as dismissal will be later next year, will the late bus also be leaving later?
Rabbi Kobrin: Yes. Since the end of the day will be 15 minutes later next year, the late bus will be leaving 15 minutes later as well.
Shimon: It’s great to hear that these changes won't affect students' ability to participate in after-school extracurriculars. You also mentioned that teachers, in conjunction with the administration, are considering replacing midterms and finals with an alternate form of testing. Can you explain? Will that be limited to just elective classes?
Rabbi Kobrin: Some teachers are thinking about replacing their midterm and final exams. This isn't limited to just electives. At the end of the day, the point of midterms and finals is for students to show that they understand the course material. Maybe there are other ways of doing that. For example, students might write an essay or complete a project instead.
Shimon: That sounds like something that many students will be excited about.
(In Dr. Maxwell's 11th-grade English class, for example, this change has already been implemented. In place of a final exam, students will be acting as prosecutors and defenders in the mock trial of a book.)
There will also be an expansion of Judaic classes. Can you tell me more about that?
Rabbi Kobrin: The plan is to have the same kind of leveling that North Shore currently has in Hebrew Language for other Judaic Studies classes like Gemarah and Chumash. The point is to have classes for people who have never learned Torah, as well as classes for people who have been learning Torah and Hebrew their entire lives. This will obviously be dependent on North Shore hiring more teachers.
(Since this interview North Shore High School has announced that two new faculty members will be joining the school next year, Ms. Meira Berner and Ms.Tali Naor.)
Shimon: That sounds great! Torah is always learned best when it's at an appropriate level for each student. So, in addition to the expansion of the Judaic course offerings, I heard that there is going to be an upgrade to the secular curriculum as well. Is this true?
Rabbi Kobrin: Yes. Mr. Miller and I will be announcing the expanded course options for next year's Juniors and Seniors very soon. We will not be rolling anything back- all the classes we have right now will remain. We only want to add to all the rich opportunities at North Shore.
(The list of secular courses available to Seniors next year has already been sent out, including some great additions like a Machine Learning class and a World Events and Politics class.)
Shimon: Since you've taken over as Head of School at North Shore High School, you’ve taken the school in a more religious direction. For example, the added period will be dedicated to a Judaics class next year. Is that the direction you had in mind for the school before you even took over, or is that something that developed as you spent more time here?
Rabbi Kobrin: This school is a diamond, as Dr. Vitow often said, but you can always polish a diamond and make it shine even brighter, and I thought that was something that needed to be done. I don’t think that we are currently adequately preparing our students to be out in a very complicated world as Jewish professionals. We have the professional part down; I want to now address the Jewish part. Our kids are going to be on college campuses, they are going to be in workplaces and there are all kinds of questions that they will be confronted with that North Shore needs to do a better job of preparing them for.
Thank you to Rabbi Dr. Kobrin for sitting down with me!