By MYRON LOVE Enrolment at Gray Academy stands at 486 this school year, down from last year’s figure of 501. For the Brock Corydon Hebrew Bilingual program, enrolment stands at 210, up from last year’s total of 200.
That increase maintains the upward trajectory at Brock Corydon, which had fallen to as few as 100 students in its Hebrew program five years ago.
The public school program, the only public school Hebrew bilingual program in North America, provides half day Hebrew instruction and half day regular classes. The school also has an enrollment of 100 non-Jewish students. The two groups come together for joint celebrations of Jewish and Christian holidays and other school activities.
As far as the drop in enrolment at Gray Academy is concerned, schools annually measure attrition, notes Lori Binder, Head of School and CEO at Gray Academy. That school’s attrition rate is 6%, she reports, well below the North American independent school average of 10%.
Binder notes that over the past few months, five families – numbering ten Gray Academy students – left Winnipeg for other Canadian cities or returned to their home country. In spite of this, the number of families in the school is almost identical to last year (301 in 2016-17, down from 306 in 2015-16).
The school has also enrolled 86 new students this year – an increase of 23% over the previous year, Binder reports. It will also graduate the largest Grade 12 class in the history of Jewish education in Winnipeg, with 48 students. There are two classes in every grade from Kindergarten through Grade 12, with a tripling in size of the junior kindergarten to three classes.
She adds that Gray Academy’s international program, now in its seventh year, is continuing to grow. Two of the students in the program were among last year’s graduates. The international students come here for a year to study and live with host families. Currently, the school has students from Minneapolis and Brazil, with new students arriving in January for the second semester.
The success of Gray Academy is not measured only by enrolment, Binder says. The largest segment of children in the school, she points out, are children of alumni, as are many of the teachers (including new teachers Gabi Kneller and Amy Lieberman, who are teaching Grades 2 and 4 respectively.)
Also coming home (both literally and figuratively) is David Borzykowski, a 2001 graduate of the school, who has returned from Toronto to become the school’s new director of marketing and communications. Borzykowski most recently was the marketing and communications manager for Toronto’s Bialik Hebrew Day School.
Binder also highlighted some new initiatives at the school. For the elementary level, this includes a new interschool sports program for Grades 4-6 students through Pembina Trails Athletic Association. Also new is the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) program for all elementary students, aimed at encouraging innovation, problem solving and outside-the-box thinking.
At the high school level, there is a new advisory program for Grade 7 and 8 students that connects them with teacher advisors to help with their educational growth and development.
Ed. note: Information for this article was supplied by Lori Binder, Head of School and CEO at Gray Academy, while information for Brock Corydon School was supplied by a communications specialist at the Winnipeg School Division. Brock Corydon Principal Ara Morris was not allowed to speak to Myron Love. That constituted a departure form every other year since the Hebrew Bilingual program first began in Winnipeg. No doubt the deep thinkers at the Winnipeg School Division have been taking their cue from the school of bureaucratic obfuscation, which says that the media are the enemy, the message has to be carefully controlled, and even providing simple information such as how many students are enrolled in a particular school is extremely sensitive information that cannot be disseminated by anyone other than communications specialists - and you wonder why your school taxes go up so much each year?