The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles has awarded $100,000 grants to two area schools, including the Heschel West Day School in Agoura.
The elementary school was started four years ago by parents in the Conejo Valley, an area with a growing Jewish population. Beginning with one kindergarten class of 14 children, the coed school has swelled to 150 students, said Gary Polson, one of the founders.
“In a growing school, there are a lot of needs,” Polson said. The school board and administration have not yet decided how to use the grant, he said, but possibilities include adding more classrooms, starting a middle school and building on a permanent site. The school, which expects eventually to serve more than 500 students, now uses a mix of temporary and permanent buildings.
The Jewish Federation, which also awarded $100,000 to Milken Community High School in the Sepulveda Pass, has provided $190,000 in scholarships to students attending Jewish day schools in the greater metropolitan region. The organization also gave $95,000 to support retreats for Jewish teenagers and professional development for teachers and counselors that serve this age group.
Heschel West accepts students of all Jewish denominations. In addition to secular subjects, the children study Hebrew and Judaica for two hours each day, Polson said.
One parent, Richard Wentz, said that he moved to the area in part to take advantage of the public schools in the well-regarded Las Virgenes Unified School District. But when he heard about Heschel West, he sent his two children there instead.
“They’re getting not only a secular education, but an excellent moral, values-based education as well,” said Wentz, who is now the executive vice president of the school’s board. “The children just love going to school.”