High School Transition

HS Transition

My teachers at GRTWA more than prepared me for the challenges of a rigorous course load in high school and beyond! Through the school’s Post Graduate Learning Program, I’ve had the privilege of continuing to engage in high-level intellectual discussions and lessons pertaining to Jewish history while remaining a part of the school community. The incredibly warm community at GRTWA fostered a sense of connection to my Jewish identity that has inspired me to embrace leadership roles in various Jewish organizations. Jadyn M, Class of 2018

Preparing to Transition into High School

Students at Gottesman RTW Academy often have numerous choices for high school, and this can be a daunting step for many parents and students. Parents may not be aware that our middle school language arts and math teacher, Mrs. Sheri Swiss, is also the High School Transition Coordinator. As a teacher who knows the strengths and work habits of her students, Mrs. Swiss is well-positioned to help them make the most fitting choice as well as assist them and their parents through the process of open houses, interviews, and placement tests. She has a hand-on approach to guiding students and parents through the process and has developed a comprehensive step-by-step guide for all of the school choices and their associated paperwork and placement procedures. Overall, Mrs. Swiss's goal is to find the best fit for her students.

How does the High School Transition Program Work?

Our students begin this process starting in the spring of 7th grade, leaving ample time to start thinking about their next step. At this point, Mrs. Swiss starts meeting with parents to discuss possible high schools. During this discussion, parents and students begin to contemplate private vs. public schools, Jewish vs. secular schools, free vs. tuition-based schools, and competitive private vs. competitive public schools. Additionally, since most competitive schools require the ISEE, SSAT, or Accuplacer admissions test, students have the opportunity to take a diagnostic test so parents can begin to plan for test preparation.

During the fall of 8th grade, students begin the more concrete next steps in the transitioning process. The eighth graders get the opportunity to have representatives from high schools to come speak with them and to attend open houses at high schools. Mrs. Swiss then works with parents through the application process, making sure they are getting everything they need for admissions.  Students are also given the opportunity to do mock interviews.

The final leg of the process starts in the winter of 8th grade, once students receive acceptances. Mrs. Swiss works with parents to make a final choice, ensuring each student ultimately attends the high school that is the best fit for him or her. Throughout the next four years, Moreh Moshe, Dr. Bahar, and Mrs. Swiss visit our graduates in high school. They speak with heads of school, guidance counselors, and the students for several reasons. First, they gain valuable insight from the heads of school about each school's curriculum and admissions criteria. Second, the guidance counselors provide feedback about how our students are doing in high school. And, finally, our alumni discuss the transition to high school and how GRTWA prepared them for their high school experience.

Students Get Individualized Support in their Transitions

Parents commonly ask Dr. Bahar and Mrs. Swiss if our curriculum prepares our students to meet the necessary requirements and prerequisites to go on to a high school of their choice. No matter where a student chooses to attend high school, both Dr. Bahar and Mrs. Swiss make sure that each student's schoolwork is geared so that he or she will have met all the necessary prerequisites.

Because of our rigorous math curriculum, most of our eighth graders leave GRTWA having finished algebra or even geometry. This puts them on an accelerated math track for high school. Moreover, Mrs. Swiss is reading books with her students that are normally read in high school and says that most of the curriculum is taught on an honors level so that if the students want to pursue an honors track in high school, they are able to. "One of our main goals regarding curriculum," Mrs. Swiss remarks, "is to make sure that whatever class our students want to take in high school, they will be prepared."

Another concern among parents is that the time spent on the Judaic curriculum may cause students to lag behind academically in other areas. However, Mrs. Swiss has found that our Judaic education doesn't detract from the overall academics or their ability to place in a private or technical school. In fact, as a result of their Jewish history studies, students ultimately have a more expansive knowledge of history than many students from other schools. Moreover, because our students learn Derech Eretz and good character traits through their Judaic studies, they are able to enter high school with confidence and a stronger sense of self.

Mrs. Swiss has a wide array of resources available, and, in this role of High School Transition Coordinator, she is with parents and students each step of the way. If you have any questions or would like to speak with her about the high school transitioning process, please feel free to reach out to her at [email protected].

Visit the GRTWA High School Transition Website