Samantha Platt Auerbach ’97
Samantha Platt Auerbach looks at Sinai Akiba through two lenses: the practiced eye of a professional educator and the seasoned perspective that comes with first-hand experience. The picture that emerges is consistent no matter the view – Sinai Akiba is the place to be.
“The school is on the cutting-edge of secular education, with things like the Innovation Lab, the science labs and the reading and writing workshops,” says the 1997 Sinai Akiba graduate. And that’s only part of the equation.
“The Jewish piece – love of Israel, Hebrew language, core values – is also huge,” she says. “I think a lot of parents worry they’re losing something by having a dual curriculum, but that’s not true here; it was actually the opposite. I went to high school at Harvard-Westlake, and to be honest, I thought my 9th Grade year there was easier than my 8th Grade year at Sinai Akiba.”
Today, Auerbach has her own three children coming up the ranks through Sinai Temple, one at the Lainer School in first grade, another in pre-K and a third in the toddler program. She is also engaged in school leadership, serving on both the Early Childhood Center board and the Outreach Committee.
“One of our goals is to up retention from pre-k to kindergarten,” she says. “The year my oldest was transitioning, there were probably five to seven families considering leaving who ended up staying. Now they love the school, are super involved and have multiple kids on the same path.”
It is, she says, a testament to how good the school is, and to the incredible dynamism of its current leader, Head of School Dr. Sarah Shulkind.
“Sarah is a tremendous and visionary leader, and I think she’s the reason our school continues to move in such a progressive direction,” Auerbach says. “Not only does she have her finger on the pulse of everything in the education world, but she’s also so warm and super approachable. I think we owe her a lot, and I hope she stays for a very long time!”
As the School has evolved, it has also stayed true to its roots, according to Auerbach. “The promotion of being a mensch is very much the same as when I was here, and there’s great continuity in terms of the songs, art projects and holiday celebrations,” she says.
In addition, she notes, there is something special about the longevity of Sinai Akiba’s teachers. “I had Frida Eytan as my second-grade teacher, and next year, my son will have her for second grade,” she says. Donna Kerman and Marcia Fellner are some of the other tenured faculty who made an impression on Auerbach and who remain a strong presence at the school.
Balancing past, present and future – given all Sinai Akiba offers, Auerbach says, it’s no wonder the school has built such a prominent reputation. “When I mention the name of the school, most people have heard of it,” she says. “Jewish or not.”
“The school is on the cutting-edge of secular education, with things like the Innovation Lab, the science labs and the reading and writing workshops. The Jewish piece – love of Israel, Hebrew language, core values – is also huge.”