Educating Students to Make a Difference
By Molly MacLeod-Roth
At Alfred and Adele Davis Academy in Dunwoody, Tzedakah, meaning “righteousness,” and Tikun Olam, “repair of the world,” are major components of the curriculum that integrates general and Jewish studies. A school founded in 1992 with an endowment from the children of the late Alfred and Adele Davis, the Academy offers an educational community in which children develop a lasting love of learning as well as a commitment to Jewish life founded on ethics, morals and values, grounded in the Torah. From humble beginnings—20 students were enrolled the first year in kindergarten and first grade—Davis Academy’s two campuses now occupy 18 lush acres and accommodate nearly 700 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, making it the largest Jewish school in Atlanta and the largest Reform Jewish day school in the United States.
“Every day the kids here do something to give me goose bumps. That’s Tzedakah!” exclaims Carolyn Berk, director of admissions. This is made clear in a recent project undertaken by the school’s third-graders. Through washing cars, selling handmade jewelry door-to-door and walking dogs, the third-grade class raised $1,000 for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) Sudanese Assistance Fund. Inspired by the film God Grew Tired of Us, the third-graders presented a check to the IRC and Nathaniel, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan profiled in the documentary, in a ceremony held in the school library. “The kids truly feel like they can change the world, that this money will make a difference,” explains Julie Stanwick, a Davis Academy parent. The students have clearly taken Tzedakah to heart.
The Davis Academy has an impressive reputation, resulting in steady growth, because beyond its mission to instill in its students a commitment to the greater community, the Davis Academy is deeply rooted in academic excellence—it is one of only five private schools in the Southeast with triple accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) and the Georgia Accrediting Commission (GAC). The curriculum focuses strongly on language arts, math, social studies and science, with additional emphasis on the Hebrew language, art, music and physical education.
Davis Academy goes beyond traditional education to ensure that its students develop as people. Sidney Kirschner, the head of Davis Academy, sums up the Davis difference: “Davis Academy is an exceptional choice for education in a truly caring, nurturing environment. The academic excellence is a given, but the real gift of a Davis Academy education is the foundation upon which these students grow into responsible adults, caring for their greater community and understanding their role in the world. They don’t just think—they do.”
Because of small class sizes and teachers who pay close attention to their needs and strengths, students at Davis Academy receive valuable individual attention. And as students prepare to leave Davis after eighth grade, they and their parents are paired witha “Transition Counselor” to help find the best high school for their future. The relationship between students and the larger community is fostered through all-school celebrations of Judaic tradition and holidays, as well as through life-changing class trips such a two-week eighth-grade class trip to Israel.
Davis Academy adheres to the highest academic standards, but its standard for excellence is two-fold. Commitment to education is coupled with a dedication to developing students who are active and admirable members of society, making Davis Academy a truly unique educational opportunity for students as well as a positive influence in the greater Atlanta area.
Student/Teacher Ratio: 3 to 1
Religious Affiliation: Jewish (Reform)
Annual Tuition Range: $10,000-$13,000
8105 Roberts Drive
Atlanta, GA 30350