Alvin Mars, an educator and former executive of the Brandeis-Bardin Institute in California, has been hired to lead a new Jewish boarding school in Greensboro and to organize its faculty.The American Hebrew Academy, which is scheduled to open in two years, named its headmaster and unveiled architectural plans at a news conference Tuesday.
The school is being built on 100 acres at the corner of Hobbs and Jefferson roads, on property bought from Jefferson-Pilot. It will be the first Jewish boarding high school in America, said Glenn Drew, an attorney who is also on the school's board of directors.
There are two other Jewish education programs in Greensboro, a pre-school at Temple Emanuel and B'nai Shalom Synagogue Day School, which teaches children from pre-school through eighth grade.
``It is our intent to create a rigorous academic program that challenges students intellectually and inspires them ... with the values of our people,' Mars said at the press conference, held at Guilford College.
The school eventually hopes to draw as many as 800 students from across the country, Drew said, and will have a curriculum of traditional subjects as well as religious courses.
Classes will begin with about 100 ninth-graders in 2001, and one grade will be added in each of the next three years. Day students from the local area also could attend the school. Tuition and fees have not been set.
The school's master plan, in its architecture and its teaching, will honor Jewish values, Mars said. Specifically, he mentioned three ideals: repairing and nurturing the world, avoiding thoughtless destruction, being a responsible part of God's creation.
The timing of the announcement coincides with the Jewish High Holy Days, and Mars said, is something to celebrate in the Jewish community.
Jewish people are moving back toward their heritage, he said, which is why a school like this is possible now.
``It hasn't been the kind of project Jewish people have turned to before,' he said. ``There's a greater interest now in discovering and rediscovering who we are as a people.'
A boarding school in this area would help local Jewish families, but would also give opportunity to students in other communities, like Greensboro, that are not large enough to support a Jewish high school, Drew said.
The school will be much like a small liberal arts college, he said, with academic buildings, athletic fields, dormitories and dining areas.
The campus also will have a synagogue and a cultural arts center.
The first phase of construction is scheduled to begin in November and will cost $40 million. That phase will include two classroom buildings with labs, a fitness center, a sports field, dining hall, library and media center, student union, infirmary, synagogue and some student housing. More housing and additional facilities will be added in the next several years, Drew said.
The school hopes to have a teacher for every 12 students. It will seek accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.