A Parent’s Unique Perspective on the Educational Experience at Pardes

by Jennifer Schwarz, Pardes parent

Jennifer shared these thoughts at our November Kindergarten Preview event. 

December 7 – Our path is a unique one. We have three kids. Our son attended a Jewish day school (not Pardes) through fifth grade. When that school closed, we decided to send him to one of the highly regarded charter schools that we had heard amazing things about and we decided to send our girls to Pardes for elementary school with every intention of moving them in middle school to the same charter school our son attended.

Well, our plans definitely changed—our older daughter graduated from Pardes and is now a sophomore at Phoenix Country Day and our younger daughter will be graduating from Pardes this year. What our son experienced in the charter school was a very flat education—really lacking in depth. Our son was learning how to memorize a lot of facts and figures, but was not exploring topics in a way that would inspire him or allow the material to meaningfully sink in. It was, frankly, boring to him. There was no emphasis on writing and they had no option for his accelerated math level so he had to repeat pre-algebra. He did one or two presentations in all of middle school; there was no technology; and he rarely worked in a group. All important skills to move with into high school and beyond.

Meanwhile, we were watching the way Pardes was teaching our girls and were so impressed by what we were seeing. They
delved deeply into topics—learning by doing presentations, online vlogs, speeches and group projects that were interesting and engaging. Teachers were passionate about teaching. Our girls would come home and share interesting things they learned at school. The emphasis on writing skills and reading our girls’ written work were, frankly, oftentimes, jaw-dropping. I couldn’t believe that at the ages they were they could write as well as they did. And, they did presentations so often that they aren’t a big deal to them and they helped them gain incredible confidence in approaching many areas of their lives—whether academically, socially, in musical theater, sports and elsewhere.

When our older daughter went to high school at Phoenix Country Day, I heard over and over from teachers and administrators how impressed they were with the Pardes students. Seven out of the 22 new high school students her year had graduated from Pardes. And, each one of them is doing incredibly well there.

Not only are the Pardes students very well-prepared for high school, they grew up in a community of support that was like family. Their teachers care deeply about them and cultivate relationships that help the students not only to grow as students but also to grow as human beings. They make lifelong friends and graduate with a strong Jewish identity and proud of their Jewish heritage. The Pardes community is much, much more than a school. It is going to be very hard to say good-bye.