We are fortunate to live in a state with a variety of choices when it comes to picking the right school for your child. Hopefully, next year there will be an additional charter school option for parents. The Albert Einstein Academy will offer not only a STEAM-based (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) education but a focus on languages including Hebrew and Arabic. Currently, no other public schools are offering these languages.
Donna Troisi, the board president of the school, has been wanting to bring a Hebrew language charter school to the Valley for the past 15 years. Donna is the former head of the King David Academy, and when the Jess Schwartz High School closed, Donna wanted to open a new school, but it did not come to fruition.
Both Donna’s sons attended Jess Schwartz, and she believes that the colleges they got into were a direct result of the education they received there. Her oldest son was the first graduating class at the high school.
“To this day, he will tell me it was the best thing that I ever did. He only got into the schools, he did, because it was so small and he got the attention he needed, and my younger son is the same,” says Donna. “So this is what I’m trying to mimic for kids because I lived it. And I know a small school that has a good academic record is invaluable.”
Rabbi Mark Blazer started the original Albert Einstein Academy, and he approached Donna about applying for a charter in Arizona. Now closed, the Albert Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts and Science in California was rated in Newsweek’s 2014 top ten charter schools in the nation.
Donna could not talk specifics because the charter has not been approved yet (they will know in December), but she said that the school would be located in Scottsdale. They are looking at locations and also actively recruiting a head of school so that as soon as they get approved they can hit the ground running.
The school plans to be open in August 2021, and will initially offer grades kindergarten through second and seventh through ninth. The goal is to add a grade level each year until they reach the goal of being a K-12.
Karolyn Benger, who is also on the school’s board, has applied for a $1.5 million grant. She is excited to enroll her children.
“We’re in the 21st century, and we need holistic, well-rounded students who are going to join a global economic workforce,” says Karolyn. “If we could create a microcosm of a culture of inclusion and tolerance, then that would create students who would go out into the world with those values.”
“For me personally, having Jews and Arabs work and learn together, which is starting to happen in the Middle East, it’s just a beautiful statement,” adds Donna.
Karolyn explains that Maricopa County is a large hub for Arab refugees, the majority from Syria. And we also host a large Israeli population.
“It’s just an incredible opportunity that these households where these other languages are going on, or they’re not because they want to speak English, but they still want their children to learn the language of their culture,” says Karolyn. “This school could be an incredible benefit for them.”
She continues, “There are many Jewish kids I know whose families want them more connected to the language and the culture and aren’t necessarily looking for a Jewish day school. They want rigorous academics, science, technology, and I’m hoping that this will provide all of that for them.”
Click here to add your name to a list of supporters to show the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools that there is community interest.
To learn more about the Albert Einstein Academy, visit aeaz.org.