18 FACTS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT AKIVA SCHOOL
The leading reason people give for choosing Akiva is the overwhelming feeling of community, belonging and acceptance.
At Akiva School, community means many things. It’s the sense of togetherness that students and their families feel in the classroom and at school events. Akiva is a deeply caring and warm community where adults and children alike care for and respect one another and where children and families make lifelong friendships. It’s the connection to Middle Tennessee’s larger Jewish community, where Akiva students feel at home. And it’s the reassurance the school brings to Nashville’s Jewish community, which knows it’s raising a generation of young people to be proud, confident, leaders. Our vibrant, dynamic community sustains itself when it educates its children in a profound and meaningful way. Akiva School is a place of community.
#2 History and Pride
For over 60 years, Akiva has provided a competitive private school education in Nashville.
Since 1954, Akiva School has provided a home for outstanding elementary school learning while creating a rich history within the heart of Nashville’s Jewish community. Originally affiliated with Sherith Israel and the Orthodox movement, over its many years the school has borne witness to a changing Jewish population and has evolved into a pluralistic day school, serving a diverse student body. Though it has been re imagined in many ways over the years, what hasn’t changed is Akiva’s commitment to nurturing Jewish values and providing a challenging education. We’re proud of its quality and longevity, and the fact that it is a community asset, attracting Jewish professionals to the Nashville area. We’re proud of the education our students receive, and the possibilities it opens to them. Akiva School is a place of history and pride.
A majority of our graduates go on to hold a leadership position at their next school, in college or in the community.
Strong leaders are essential to a healthy community. At Akiva, we believe that leadership takes many forms, and that every student is capable of learning the skills to lead. Our curriculum places a high value on student initiative and confident public speaking. We take our students seriously, and our trust and confidence in them blossoms organically into leadership. As our students grow older, they gain greater levels of independence. Students take on authentic leadership roles, are challenged to think deeply, explore intensely, and express themselves surely in speech and writing. Students assume with seriousness their roles as leaders in the community. At the heart of these years is the sense that students are beginning to think about themselves and their identities and they begin to understand the impact their decisions will make on the world around them. As our students leave Akiva’s halls, we are honored by their accomplishments, and the impact they have on Nashville’s community. This commitment and ability to lead continues into adulthood, where many of our business, community and academic leaders are Akiva Alumni. Akiva School is a place of leadership.
#4 Learning Comes Alive via Project-Based Learning
Our students built a 2-room, outdoor classroom by integrating their knowledge of math and physics with their research, project management, communication, teamwork and budgeting skills.
Students wanted to better understand how the skills they were learning in the classroom applied to the real world. During a unit on architecture, the students decided to build a freestanding structure to be given to the school as a class gift. The project was ambitious and impressive. With the help of community experts, students conducted research, designed plans, prepared timelines, presented their idea to large groups, learned about the accuracy of measurement and the real meaning of volume and area, obtained building permits, conducted aggressive fundraising campaigns and utilized the principles of teamwork, leadership, and respect. Developing the leadership skills, organizational skills, budgeting skills and skills of learning to advocate for what you want and what you believe in, became as much a part of this project as did learning about the math and science. In a few short months a treehouse was built! Akiva School is a place where learning comes alive.
Make the world a better place, much of what we do each week is directed toward tikkun olam, repairing the world.
Jewish values are the foundation upon which an Akiva education is built. These include pursuing excellence, fostering critical inquiry, and inspiring informed Jewish living. Students are encouraged to treat themselves and each other with kindness and respect. At Akiva School, compassion is a part of daily life. Students learn from nurturing teachers to take care of one another, to be considerate of the feelings of others, and to be thoughtful, helpful and kind. Akiva fosters the moral and spiritual development of each child; giving them a moral compass and helping them grow into responsible, caring citizens of our country and world. Through visiting the sick, working with seniors, helping refugee children or improving our community through building a sustainable garden, our students learn to take care of themselves, their community, and others. Akiva School is a place of values.
#6 Dual Language
Learning another language—Hebrew—-strengthens learning skills and builds confidence
Hebrew studies are an essential part of an Akiva education. We know that learning a foreign language enhances brain development, literacy and math skills, and language acquisition and is an important component of global competitiveness and competency. Our dual language program allows us to form meaningful connections between students and the State of Israel. At Akiva School, we believe in exposing our students not only to Hebrew, but to Israeli culture, Jewish studies, and the art of learning effective communication skills.
Akiva is open and welcoming to Jewish children and families of all Jewish denominations, observance, and practice.
There’s no one way to be a Jew, and Akiva School embraces students from all backgrounds. Our student body is comprised of Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and unaffiliated Jewish families. We are a home for Jewish pluralism in Nashville, a space where Jews of all affiliations and non-affiliated, learn together in a welcoming and safe environment. During Kabbalat Shabbat services, we invite families, local rabbis and community members to welcome the Sabbath with us and share their perspectives and experiences. Akiva School is a place of pluralism.
#8 Beautiful Campus
For almost 20 years Akiva has had a bright and spacious free standing school on the JCC campus.
Akiva is an attractive, roomy physical facility with access to adjacent JCC facilities. The school’s own building was built less than 20 years ago and features large, well-lit classrooms, bright hallways adorned with student art and projects, ample parking and safe off-street drop-off and pick-up lanes. The GJCC has the full range of recreational and meeting space, which is available for the school’s use. The school has excellent, up-to-date security systems and yet is a relaxed and welcoming environment that encourages learning and Akiva’s warm sense of community.
#9 Global Citizenship
Akiva is developing its relationships to connect our students to some of the brightest minds in math and science in the world.
As our curriculum moves to incorporating 21st Century skills, we are reminded of both our religious diversity as well as our ethnic diversity. Akiva students come from more than seven different nations. Our families know the importance of connecting to the global community. Introducing students to Israeli members of our community and granting them access to some of the brightest minds in science and technology in Israel, gives our students a edge in their scientific and entrepreneurial learning.
#10 Student Successes
Our students achieve success both in and out of the classroom and matriculate at some of the best public and independent middle schools in the area.
Akiva fosters an environment and love of learning with success as the outcome. Our students achieve academic success from a young age. They achieve above national averages in the most challenging standardized tests in the nation and receive awards for their performance in local math and science competitions. In 6th grade, our students are actively recruited by other schools, with 95% landing at their first or second choice school. Not only that, throughout their high school career, our students continue to thrive, with many graduating high school in the top 10 percent of their class as evidenced by the accomplishments of our alumni.
#11 Exceptional Faculty
Nearly 75% of our faculty hold advanced degrees, publish regularly and serve on education panels.
The exceptional faculty at Akiva challenge students to analyze, investigate, question and become future leaders. At Akiva School, we’re fortunate to have great teachers to learn with our students, inspire them, work closely with them, know and love them. Akiva students love to learn because of the amazing teachers that inspire them. In addition, we are proud of the regional and national status our teachers have achieved throughout the years through publishing, serving on committees and planning groups, and presenting at conferences where they “teach other teachers.”
# 12 Small Classes
Our classrooms have a small teacher/student ratio.
Akiva’s small teacher/student ratio provides the opportunity for more individualization where students can build strong skills in language, literacy, math, science, and community from “where they are.” Small classes give teachers the freedom to foster flexibility and meet individual student needs and differentiate their lessons and approaches.
#13 The Community Cares about Akiva:
The school derives its strength from multiple sources
Akiva is a well-respected, integral part of the Nashville community. Our parents are supportive and involved in the schools activities and governance, our board is focused on excellence in all aspects of school life and challenge the staff with world-class ideas and the other Jewish agencies have a personal interest and desire to see the school succeed!
#14 Cutting Edge Curricula
Our curriculum represents the best of world class learning—integrated into a unique curriculum.
At Akiva, we don’t adopt one approach or “hot” idea—we select the best characteristics of the latest approaches that are research-based. Students are engaged with project-based and experiential learning and love to come to school. They are exposed to skills in design, physics, and rigorous mathematics. Our curriculum, utilizes technology as an integral part of learning through the use of smart boards, digital resources, and the Internet. Our Jewish Studies curriculum is based on the exemplary Tal Am program but is adapted to meet the needs of our children and our Judaic curricular experiences are designed to encourage critical thinking and making connections to the real world. In addition, we offer electives which enhance classroom learning and extend offerings based on students’ interest.
#15 Academic Excellence
The school’s academic program is dedicated to providing an unparalleled learning experience
In Akiva’s classrooms, students are challenged to analyze, investigate, question, and take risks in their study of math, language arts, science, social studies, Jewish studies, Hebrew language, music, dance, art, and physical education. We stress concepts such as revision of work, questioning the “final” product, and reaching out to the community to add to our learning. This academic approach promotes a love of learning while preparing students for futures as successful people.
#16 Akiva is Thriving
We have received an almost record number of new applicants for next school year with high retention
As we move our school towards our goal of unparalleled academic excellence, our community has responded. This year our enrollment has increased, we have a “wait list” in one grade, and our current families are returning and excited with the growth of our program and our enrollment. Our enrollment reflects families both new to Nashville as well as those already established in our community.
#17 We have a strong vision that targets the year 2020 to reposition our school.
Akiva plans to continue to build and strengthen our academic experience by incorporating and building project based learning with scientific thinking which will benefit the total community
Our goals for the future are ambitious. We are working hard to remain a strong, vibrant school that provides an unparalleled academic experience; continuing to improve our pluralistic philosophy so that we can be welcoming, accessible, and relevant to Jewish families in Nashville; and developing our relationships in order to become even more of a trusted resource and partner for Nashville’s academic, business and Jewish communities. Nashville currently boasts a large and prosperous business community with particular strengths in healthcare and technology. While Akiva draws its families from these sectors already, our 2020 vision aspires to enhance Akiva’s connections with these business as well as the global communities.
#18 Our Future
Akiva School is the past, present and future of the Jewish community in Nashville, TN
It’s up to us! Nashville’s Jewish heritage is rich and deep, and our community deserves a school where its children can be steeped in Jewish life and tradition. A strong, positive engagement with Judaism in early life will keep our children involved in Jewish life, l’dor v’dor (from generation to generation). By supporting Akiva School we can ensure the continuation of our state’s strong Jewish presence. As a Jewish community of present families and alumni, we are collectively responsible for keeping this school thriving so that its possibilities are available to any student who seeks them. We are a team!