Ayelet “Ellie” Lichtash, executive director and founder of Alef Bet Montessori School, with Shaya Ratner and Meir Herman, 18 months old.
On the evening of Dec. 6, the Alef Bet Montessori School will present “Education – Passport to the World” — a gala which will be held at the Potomac home of Amy and Alan Meltzer. The event will recognize the innovative program at Alef Bet – the only Jewish Montessori School in the area. The theme is also a salute to the school for the support they are giving Israeli Montessori schools by partnering to learn best practices from one another, through teacher and student cultural exchanges and through supporting Montessori teacher training in Israel.
Sally Oren, wife of the Israeli Ambassador H.E. Dr. Michael B. Oren, will be the honoree of the evening. Oren is involved in international aid and issues regarding women’s health and education in Israel. She serves as an advocate for children and for improved teacher training in Israel.
Alef Bet integrates a traditional Montessori curriculum with Judaic studies that include a Hebrew language program. Each classroom has a certified Montessori instructor along with an assistant who speaks fluent Hebrew. The school celebrates all the Jewish celebrations through which the children learn the meaning, the history and all the traditions of each holiday. The program is for children 18 months through 6th grade.
Executive Director Ayelet “Ellie” Lichtash founded the school eight years ago. An attorney by training, Lichtash resided in Israel until she came to the U.S. with her husband when she was 30. After she observed her daughter’s success at the KMMS Kehilet Montessori, Silver Spring, she decided to establish Alef Bet because she felt it was what the community needed.
“I wanted to bring together Jewish people of all denominations to experience Jewish life through the Montessori Method,” said Lichtash.
According to its website, www.alefbetmontessori.org, “Alef Bet is the first of its kind in Maryland to offer Montessori education in the two curricula. The program includes math, English, science, geography, art and music, along with Hebrew language, Chumash (Torah study), Mishna (Oral Law) and Tefila (prayer) in the hands-on, individualized, child-directed approach for which Montessori is known.”
There are 30 Montessori schools in Israel. Lichtash has been instrumental in starting the Montessori Administrative Association and through this group she has been in contact with administrators from the Israeli schools, discussing best practices, staffing issues and other educational and administrative topics. She is also working to create an affordable Montessori teacher training center in Israel. Lichtash has partnered with Ruth Yakir, director of international and graduate studies at Seminar Hakibutizm and Sally Oren in this effort.
“This is the first step in Alef Bet’s Global Education initiative to give students and teachers the opportunity for cultural exploration and development through exchange programs,” Lichtash said. “Alef Bet will be the model school and teachers from the Israeli programs will come here to learn. We are excited about the exchange program — within 5 years, you will see 5th and 6th graders traveling to Israel to study and live with an Israeli family for a few weeks. Teachers will come here to learn, and we will send our teachers there. The future of the program is going to be amazing.”
The gala will raise funds to support the mission of Alef Bet and will include a silent auction and an international cuisine. For more information and to register, go to the Alef Bet website or call Janel Herman at 301-881-9010 ext. 18, or Golda Rivkah Sanders at ext. 23.