A Moving Day at Hillel
By Vivian Henoch, Editor myJewishDetroit
July 4, 2016
Some things are just meant to be.
Thanks to the newest phase of renovation at Hillel Day School, Yeshivat Darchei Torah in Southfield, and Detroit Community Schools, a charter school on Detroit’s West Side, have both received donations of classroom furniture.
Too numerous to inventory, Hillel’s surplus of school items, pulled out of the classrooms under reconstruction, included 220 student desks and chairs, 10 teacher desks, dozens of bookcases and shelves, “tons” of cubbies, lockers, white boards and books no longer in use, all in good condition.
A move to improve learning
With FOX2 News on hand to pick up the story on moving day (May 31), Steve Freedman, Head of School, commented, “This is all good stuff and there are children in Detroit and in our community who are entitled to benefit from the materials we are no longer using. We feel lucky that we are able to help with a significant donation of items to be divided between the two schools.”
Hillel’s renovation is slated for completion by the start of the school year in September. Funded through transformative gifts of the William and Audrey Farber Family and the William Davidson Foundation, the plan calls for new construction of both wings of the K-2 and 3-6 classrooms, which will now be conceived as flexible “learning communities.” These spaces will be designed to foster creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and project-based exploration and discovery.
A partnership that demonstrates Hillel’s values at work
The partnership between Hillel and the Detroit charter school demonstrates the values of a community pooling resources – with a little help from two sisters, Elissa Sternberg, the school social worker at Hillel, and Caryn Loughlin, a third-grade teacher at Detroit Community Schools. “We had good furniture to donate,” said Elissa. “When I learned from my sister that many of the students in her school were just making do with broken desks and chairs, we arranged the match and called the school to come out and take what they needed.”
“Just getting the call from Hillel was a blessing,” said Wendy Senkbil, K-8 Principal at Detroit Community Schools. She explained that the students themselves have been involved in building bookshelves and other furniture for the classroom as a temporary measure for replacing chipped and outdated items. “This is awesome.” Wendy affirmed, “Our kids will really appreciate just sitting on chairs again and having what they need to be successful in the classroom.”
Reflecting on Hillel’s new phase of development, Steve Freedman commented “Through the awesome generosity of the Farber family and the Davidson Foundation, we have been able to create incredible opportunities to provide our children the education they need for this century. As a leader today, we want to be part of the change in our city, as well. Many Hillel graduates and their parents are working downtown – contributing their talents and energy towards the transformation of our city. We want to be a part of that.”