Yoav Guttman won't follow the same educational path his two siblings followed.
Yoav, 14, will get a high school education at a Jewish school rather than a public school.The son of Rabbi Fred Guttman will be among the first 70 ninth and 10th-graders to enroll in the new American Hebrew Academy, a private Jewish boarding school opening next month in Greensboro.
The academy at Jefferson and Hobbs roads is the nation's only residential Jewish high school. Unlike Orthodox Jewish boarding schools across the country, the Greensboro academy is designed for all three branches of Judaism.
The older Guttman children, Ilan and Maital, attended Jewish private schools through the eighth grade. Because there wasn't a Jewish high school in the Greensboro area, the Guttman children attended and graduated from Grimsley High School.
It has been a typical scenario for Jewish children in Greensboro - early training in a Hebrew school and finishing in the public school system.
Like any parent, Rabbi Guttman of Temple Emanuel always has wanted the best education possible for his three children. ``This is not a case of running away from Grimsley or the public schools,' said Guttman. ``My older kids got a wonderful education at Grimsley.'
Ilan is a senior in the Business School at the University of Maryland. Maital, who was president of the Grimsley senior class, received a Robertson Scholarship to Duke University this fall. Both graduated from the International Baccalaureate Program at Grimsley.
Yet, the chance for his youngest child to attend the American Hebrew Academy was one Guttman couldn't pass up. It also was an opportunity to extend the education Yoav received at B'Nai Shalom Synagogue Day School, which tops out at the eighth grade. Yoav will be a ninth-grader.
``This new school reflects my values, they've put together the most fantastic faculty, both in Judaic studies and secular studies, and I like the idea of the community of children my son will be with,' said Guttman. ``Plus, the headmaster is such an incredible and holy person; I want my son to know him as a rabbi.'
Headmaster is Alvin Mars, a former executive at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute in California.
When completed in about three years, the school will accommodate more than 800 residential and day students in grades 9 through 12.
Students are being recruited from across the United States, mostly from areas that do not have Jewish high schools, said Alina Gerlovin Spaulding, dean of admissions.
The school was built with donations from a small group of anonymous donors in the Greensboro area. ``In the Jewish tradition, the highest form of charity is to give anonymously,' Mars said.
During the early years, the academy wants to attract elite students, those who merit a full-tuition scholarships based on outstanding academic and personal qualifications.
The academy, situated on 100 acres formely owned by Jefferson-Pilot Corp., has the aura of a small college campus. It is a state-of-the-art facility designed by architect Aaron Green, protege and former associate of Frank Lloyd Wright.
The facility also has a geothermal exchange heating and cooling system that uses ground temperature to heat or cool a closed water system.
``We're very concerned about the environment, and this system is about as energy efficient as possible,' said headmaster Mars. ``It will be one of the largest such systems in the country.'
Automobiles won't be zipping around campus because they must be left in a parking lot at the entrance gate. Thus, the campus will be limited to pedestrian traffic or to riding electric vehicles or bikes.
A synagogue, state-of-the-art library and media center, athletic center and natatorium, student health center and a kosher dining pavilion and student union also are planned.
Student housing is in large home-like structures, with each housing 18 students. A senior adviser and senior and junior faculty members will live in private quarters in the house.
Faculty have been employed from across the country.
``We have searched for people who love to teach and spend time with adolescents,' said Mars. ``All faculty members have a significant area of academic expertise and are well-rounded, interesting people with diverse talents that can make our life on the academy campus challenging and fun.'
The student to teacher ratio will be 12-to-1.
The school also will have athletic and creative arts programs.
Athletic director Philip Papier spent 15 years as athletic director and department chairman of health and physical education at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Md. Papier said he will design a fitness-for-life program, something especially needed on a residential campus.
``My biggest concern is to have physically fit young men and women,' Papier said. ``I want to encourage them to get in shape and, athletics will be a bonus.'
Students also will have design features and technology uncommon to many high school campuses.
Each classroom is equipped with a conference table shared by students and teachers, a setting intended to give each student the message that all are full participants in the learning process. Students will not simply be ``recipients of information,' said Mars.
Classrooms also have computerized smart-boards and projections systems, and all students have wireless laptop computers.
The school will offer a dual curriculum based upon traditional college preparatory studies and an enriched program of Jewish studies. Students will take four years of Hebrew language.
``Our goal is to give our students the skills of thinking and learning to prepare them for serious roles of leadership in life,' Mars said. ``We hope to give them a nurturing environment that lets them know what it means to be Jewish and the contributions they can make to the world.'
And that mission is what excites parents such as Robert and Marilyn Chandler. Their daughter, Dori, 14, will be among the first group of students.
``In today's society, the nurturing environment can only help them,' said Robert Chandler. ``I want my child to love to learn and become a contributing member of her society, and I believe the American Hebrew Academy will foster that.'
Steve Bogad, headmaster of B'Nai Shalom Synagogue Day School, likes parents having the option of furthering their children's education at a Jewish school.
``They have raised the bar for education in Greensboro and in the form of Jewish eduction,' Bogad said. ``This school will serve as an important model.'
And Mars couldn't agree more.
``I believe the American Hebrew Academy puts Greensboro in the eye of significant segments of the world of education and culture as well as in the eye of those interested in Jewish education,' Mars said. ``This school will bring tremendous human and cultural resources to this community.'
\ Contact Jennifer Atkins Brown at 574-5582 or firstname.lastname@example.org