04/07/2017 09:53 AM Posted by: Ricki Komiss Poster Avatar
Meredith Diskin, Class of 2001, is featured in the latest issue of HaYidion, the PRIZMAH magazine.

Dear Friends of Shlenker,

It is with much pride that I share this article with you.  Meredith Diskin, Anne Diskin’s daughter, was a student at Shlenker through fifth grade, graduating in 2001.  It is a story that could be told over and over at The Shlenker School, a story of frustration, concern, support, hard work, and success of a child.  It is a story of one teacher of many in Meredith’s educational career who helped her become who she is today, a doctoral student in Marine Biology! 

This article was published in the first Prizmah magazine, HaYidion.  Prizmah is the new organization representing all Jewish Day Schools, and Shlenker was asked to provide an article for this first issue!  It is a momentous occasion for us to be represented here.  Congratulations to Meredith, her mom Anne, Judy Zainfeld, and the many teachers coming after Judy who gave Meredith the opportunity to go for her dream!

Best regards,


A printable version of the article is at this link. The complete issue of the magazine is found here.


If you are a Shlenker graduate or know of a Shlenker graduate making news, we'd love to hear from you!


Categorized under:  Elementary EducationPreschool

03/09/2017 01:26 PM Posted by: Ricki Komiss Poster Avatar
Saturday April 1, 2017 7:00 PM Congregation Beth Israel

The Shlenker School 30th Anniversary Soiree

Honoring Rabbi Samuel E. Karff with the 2017 Spark Award

Saturday April 1, 2017

7:00 PM

Congregation Beth Israel

Honorary Chairs:
Sherrie and Alan Eisenman
Roslyn and Ricky Haikin
Sabria and Kevin Lewis
Beth and Craig Lieberman
Rosalyn and Barry Margolis

Event Chairs:
Jeryl Golub
Jen Halpern

Rock with The Spazmatics

Attire: Rock your 80's or cocktail attire

For more information or to reserve your table, please email or call Judy Danziger: 713-270-6127 x619



Categorized under:  Elementary EducationPreschool

02/10/2017 10:44 AM Posted by: Ricki Komiss Poster Avatar
We are pleased to welcome David Cohen to Shlenker beginning July 1, 2017.

I am delighted to announce that David Cohen will be joining our Shlenker Administrative Team as the Director of Jewish Learning for the 2017-2018 school year.  David will be on the Shlenker staff beginning July 1, 2017!   Mr. Cohen is currently the Director of Congregational Learning at Temple Sinai Congregation in Toronto, Ontario.  He is a native Bostonian and is looking forward to coming to our warm climate and great city, synagogue, and school.   David has been involved in directing all aspects of Pre-K -12 programming as well as adult education programming in his current position at Temple Sinai.  He is currently supervising a full time pre-school director, full time education office manager, part-time program coordinator, part-time Hebrew coordinator, an assistant pre-school director and over twenty part-time teachers.  David currently manages a half-million dollar budget that includes securing grants and direct gifts.  Additionally, Mr. Cohen collaborates with the local federation, the local Reform Educators Council, and partners with numerous agencies and synagogues to create community programming and strategic initiatives.  He also engages with non- Jewish organizations on inter-faith, inter-cultural, and social justice related issues.   Additional work experiences for David include work with the Jewish Federation of Philadelphia where he directed Israel Advocacy initiatives.  David also served as a public school teacher for eight years, was an Associate Director for the Anti-Defamation League of Boston MA, and has served as a non-profit consultant, helping to guide many boards and agency leaders in strategic planning, communications, and community outreach.  We look forward to having Mr. Cohen interfacing with the Beth Israel clergy for services, learning opportunities, and collaboration across the campus We are fortunate to have David Cohen join the Shlenker staff for next year and look forward to some new, exciting opportunities in our Hebrew and Jewish Learning classes and offerings! 

Warmest regards,


Categorized under:  Elementary EducationPreschool

02/10/2017 10:36 AM Posted by: Ricki Komiss Poster Avatar
A draft of the 2017-2018 Academic Calendar has been posted. Click HERE to access the calendar.
Categorized under:  Elementary EducationPreschool

04/21/2016 09:01 AM Posted by: Ricki Komiss Poster Avatar
Area flooding April 17-19, 2016.

Dear Parents and Friends, 

Once again we find ourselves in the wake of an all too familiar crisis.  Many of you have just found your way out of the difficult situation of renovating your home from last year’s Memorial Day flood, purchasing new cars, and stabilizing your families. 

Please know that The Shlenker School is here for you.  In partnership with Congregation Beth Israel, the Houston Jewish Federation, and private individuals, we are here and ready to help you start again.  The teachers, staff, Board of Trustees, SPA, and even Student Senate are ready to help as well. 

At this time we have identified many families who will need assistance, but if you have experienced damage to your home, need assistance with tuition, or help with anything flood-related, please contact Nancy Pryzant Picus or Karen Miller at the school.  We will make sure your name is added to the lists currently being created by Shlenker and the agencies who are available to help. 

We wish you a safe and happy Passover.  

Warmest regards,

Ricki Komiss
Head of School

Categorized under:  Elementary EducationPreschool

03/23/2015 02:58 PM Posted by: Poster Avatar
The March 19 edition of the Jewish Herald Voice featured Shlenker students as they visited Seven Acres to help residents celebrate Purim. You may view the article HERE.
Categorized under:  Elementary Education

02/27/2015 01:57 PM Posted by: Poster Avatar
Second grade students made a donation to the Houston Fire Department. More information is HERE.
Jewish Herald Voice article is HERE.
Categorized under:  Elementary Education

01/13/2015 03:12 PM Posted by: Laura Loebl Poster Avatar
Categorized under:  Elementary EducationPreschool

12/18/2014 10:59 AM Posted by: Poster Avatar
Spotlight on the Hour of Code project, supported by the 1:1 computer initiative. This week's JHV features an article highlighting one of the unique activities Shlenker students enjoy through the 1:1 computer initiative.

Categorized under:  Elementary Education

12/05/2014 02:55 PM Posted by: Ricki Komiss Poster Avatar
Shlenker was recently spotlighted in the Jewish Herald Voice for our new 1:1 technology initiative. You can link to the article HERE.
Categorized under:  Elementary Education

09/17/2014 11:44 AM Posted by: Gail Rovinsky Poster Avatar
Thursday October 23, 2014 More information is HERE. Contact Gail Rovinsky, Director of Admissions by email or 713-270-6127.
Categorized under:  Elementary EducationPreschool

08/22/2014 08:31 AM Posted by: Ricki Komiss Poster Avatar
Dear Shlenker Families and Friends,

Everyone learns at Shlenker! I hope you began the “school rituals” that we sent you last week early so every student is ready for a productive school year. Our Young Toddlers will learn how to separate from family and our PreK-4 students will learn how to recognize their names and move those names on the Promethean Board when they arrive in the classroom. Elementary students will continue learning their regular school subjects, but many of the assignments will involve technology. Which subject is most important? Which subject is hardest? Which subjects will your child like best or least? Each question is particular to each student.

As parents and teachers, we can best support our students by providing ample time to practice anything new. I recently read an article about a study of how children process math. The bottom line is… practice prepares students for what they need to know now, and if a student becomes proficient in early learning, they will be more successful in more difficult assignments later. Our job, as caretakers, is to provide time, space, and support (if needed) for any new learning and to continue to practice that learning until it is automated. This could apply for spelling, math facts, basic sight words, or even early language acquisition. Researcher Mann Koepke explained that “if your brain doesn’t have to work as hard on simple math, it has more working memory free to process the teacher’s brand-new lesson on more complex math.” It seems to me, the principle will work with any subject. I suppose the old axiom “practice makes perfect” still applies in every way.

Thank you for choosing Shlenker for your children. I assure you that we take our responsibility very seriously and look forward to a collaborative partnership with you throughout the year. The teachers, administrative team, and support team are all here to help you.

Warmest wishes for a wonderful year,

Ricki Komiss
Head of School
Categorized under:  Elementary EducationPreschool

05/29/2014 10:11 AM Posted by: Poster Avatar
Please click the included link to view the last installment of SSN for the year. Shlenker Student Senate News - May 2014
Categorized under:  Elementary Education

05/12/2014 10:26 AM Posted by: Poster Avatar
Shlenker students explore Judaism through nature. Link to full article is here: JHV Exploring Judaism through nature.
Categorized under:  Elementary EducationPreschool

12/02/2013 11:08 AM Posted by: Poster Avatar
KPRC Local 2 News visited Shlenker to talk with students about the Thanksgiving/Chanukah overlap this year.
Author: Jennifer Reyna, Traffic Reporter/Anchor,
Jill Courtney, Sr. Web Editor,
Published On: Nov 27 2013 11:48:57 AM CST
This year Thanksgiving and the second day of Hanukkah both fall on November 28. It’s a rare event that some people have dubbed Thanksgivukkah.
This week of double celebrations has the kids at The Shlenker School in southwest Houston filled with anticipation.
“It will be fun because we will all get together and we won't celebrate one holiday, but two at the same time,” said fifth grader Maxwell Heyl.
As the student’s prepare for the holiday, their turkey artwork is adorned with dreidels because the two holidays overlap.
“I am thankful that we can have two holidays on the same day,” said second grader Abie Miller. “It doesn't really happen very often."
This double holiday won’t happen again for an estimated 70,000 years.
"It's kind of cool to be able to live through that," said second grader David Katz.
The last time the two holidays fell on the same day was back in 1888.
 (Rabbi Mark Miller- Congregation Beth Israel)
"It is great because we celebrate this American holiday thing, which is all about thanks and being with our families,” said Rabbi Mark Miller of the Congregation Beth Israel. “The truth is Hanukkah has a lot of the same messages: freedom and thanks and family. So putting them together for us really cements our identity."

Click this link to see the video:
Categorized under:  Elementary Education

10/18/2013 03:00 PM Posted by: Ricki Komiss Poster Avatar
- Thu, Oct 17, 2013
A Jewish day school in Southwest Houston is leading a national trend of switching from pencil-and-paper to digital standardized testing.

For the second year in a row, administrators and faculty from The Shlenker School have been invited to present on their successes and best-practices with the switch to digital testing at the annual conference of the Educational Records Bureau — a nonprofit organization that provides assessments for achievement and admission for independent and select public schools. This year’s ERB conference will take place Oct. 23-25, in Fort Worth, Texas.
Shlenker students began the transition to online standardized testing in 2009. Earlier this week, second-graders took their ERBs for the first time using school iPads. As it previously did with the online format, Shlenker is piloting the new ERB app for tablet computers.

According to experienced educators at Shlenker, digital assessment testing is better for students and teachers, alike.

Among the benefits they listed for schools, digital formats offer instant test scores; they save time, effort and money, because they don’t have to be shipped back and forth; they encourage greater teacher accountability; and they can help improve focus and confidence, as well as eliminate common test-taking mistakes, among students.
For students who are absent during scheduled test times, the digital format allows them to take the test — again, with instant results — as soon as they return to school.

Challenges associated with the switch include having the appropriate number of digital devices for test taking; having the bandwidth to support these devices; and having capable faculty to administer the tests, as well as troubleshoot problems that may arise during the test-taking.

“It’s worth the investment” to go digital, said Ricki Komiss, Shlenker’s head of school, who has championed the cause and is leading the school’s delegation at the upcoming ERB conference. “It’s worth the opportunity to give students this chance to take the test online. You’ll get immediate results.”

Schools that administer ERBs and are considering a transition to online testing have consulted with Shlenker for advice.
Fall testing
In order to maximize the benefits of going digital, Shlenker conducts its yearly standardized testing in the fall, rather than the spring.

“The reason we do testing in the fall is because we use that data to drive our classroom instruction throughout the year,” explained Casey Suter, Shlenker’s Elementary School principal, who is joining Komiss as a presenter at the ERB confrence. 

Having access to testing data immediately and early on in the school year affords teachers time to identify strengths in curriculum, and to work on areas that might need improvement, Shlenker educators agreed.

They also noted that the strategy makes teachers more accountable and provides them with important information that they can use to their advantage in working with their students.

“That type of immediate feedback is both very powerful and empowering,” said Lisa Sachs, Shlenker’s Math & Technology coordinator, who is joining her colleagues at the upcoming conference.

The former classroom teacher has been instrumental in advancing Shlenker’s digital embrace, according to Sachs’ colleagues.
Digital natives
Doing online testing dovetails with Shlenker’s approach of integrating technology across curricula.

Students at the school are doing more and more learning online, Sachs noted. Current digital offerings include a typing program, a math practice program, Shlenker’s regular math program, and reading and science lessons.

With math-related testing and assignments, the school insists that students still keep pencil and paper handy, in order to solve equations and show their work.

While printed homework is limited to the page on which it’s printed, assignments that are done online allow students to advance further with that lesson, teachers observed. Schoolwork that’s done on a computer, in general, can feel less like chore and often is completed in less time, they added.

Shlenker recognizes that today’s students are digital natives. Technology is part of their everyday lives — of their worlds. Computer skills they learn at school are reinforced at home, and vice-versa. Though technology use comes natural to students, Shlenker also recognizes the reality that it can take time and patience for teachers and faculty, who weren’t raised on digital technology, to master the same skills.

The school is encouraged by the positive feedback it continues to receive from its students, who appreciate having only one question presented on the screen at a time, rather than a printed page of questions; students also report to like the headphones setup of online testing, allowing them to laser focus and block out distracting noises.

Digital tests also eliminate the possibility of accidently skipping a question while bubbling in answers on a Scantron form, which throws off every answer that follows, or the possibility of unitentionally skipping an entire page or pages in a printed test booklet. Getting an answer wrong from an incomplete eraser-job or messy form is no longer a problem either when taking a test online.

Additionally, the digital format can lend itself well to students who have learning differences, teachers noted.

“Computers are what our kids know and do. iPads are what they know and do,” said Karen Miller, Shlenker’s director of Counseling & Family Services, who also is presenting at the ERB confrence.

Planning, pep-talk
Planning is key to successful online testing, according to Shlenker faculty.

“A big component of the success of our experience with online testing has been that we are constantly looking at where glitches might occur and preparing to deal with those issues that can come with technology,” Miller said. “We give the kids a lot of direction and feedback on what they’re going to see on test day and we do a big pep-talk with the kids before they walk in.

“We’re always trying to problem-solve ahead of time,” Miller said.

Sachs added, “We realized early on that we had to do certain things to prepare the students for online testing. For example, our math program offers an online assessment at the beginning of the year and online assessments throughout [the year] that teachers can assign.

“We try and focus on those experiences with other areas of the curriculum that simulate online testing experiences,” she said.

Shlenker’s head of school said that doing online testing in elementary school better prepares students for the standardized testing they’ll encounter in middle school, high school and college. Tests like the SAT and GRE now offer digital options for students.

“We talk to parents and let them know that this is a good thing and, developmentally, this is where students are,” Komiss said. “By the time they get to middle school and high school, this will be second-nature for our children.”

The school’s counselor concluded: “Bottom line, if we didn’t think online testing was beneficial for the students, we’d still be doing paper-and-pencil.

“In our experience, online testing has been better for the students,” Miller said. 

Link to this article at the Jewish Herald Voice HERE.

Categorized under:  Elementary Education

08/30/2013 11:29 AM Posted by: Ricki Komiss Poster Avatar
Dear Parents and Friends of Shlenker,

I am delighted to welcome you and your children to Shlenker this year.  I know that you have made an important decision to send your children to private school, and we are so happy to have each and every precious child with us.  I hope you will find, as most of our parents did last year when they returned our Parent Survey, that Shlenker will be a great value to your family.  As a community, we learn together, pray together, celebrate together, and support each other.  For many families, the connections they make at Shlenker last a lifetime.  At Shlenker, Jewish values are taught throughout the day and within all subjects.  Middot, Jewish virtues, are the principles we consider to be of central importance such as how we act, what we stand for, and who are.  Middot challenge us to raise the level of our interactions with each other, with ourselves, and with God.  The expectations found in this world create the expectations we have at Shlenker for our students, teachers, and parents.

I hope you have already noticed some of the new and exciting improvements to our campus.  All students are enjoying our magnificent new gym where Early Childhood and Elementary students have the opportunity to be active in a safe and beautiful setting thanks to a very special Shlenker family.  Our youngest students have a lovely and secure outdoor environment with a Butterfly Garden emerging with new plants outside the Early Childhood classrooms!  Thanks to our SPA, we have 38 new computers in the classrooms and newly covered furniture in the atrium and Teachers’ Lunchroom.  SPA belongs to all parents, and we appreciate having all parents as members!  Finally, the BackYard continues to develop.  Soon we will have a bridge connecting the playground to our lovely natural reserve for all to enjoy.

Our Friday Final has changed.  You will still find calendar details and basic information; however, it will be much shorter.  Monthly, you will find a lead article from one of our administrators.  Much of the information you use on a daily basis will soon be located on our new Shlenker App, which we will roll out soon.

In closing, I wish each of you and your families a healthy and happy Rosh Hashanah and that we will all be inscribed in the Book of Life.

Best Wishes, 
Ricki Komiss
Head of School

Categorized under:  Elementary EducationPreschool

05/17/2013 03:36 PM Posted by: Poster Avatar
A Message from Rabbi Lyon

Dear Shlenker Families, 

It’s not just another year that has ended. It’s another year in which you fulfilled one of your most important promises to your children. To teach your children to love God, study Torah, and identify with the Jewish people is your highest duty. It doesn’t preclude other duties, but it leads to all others. 

As a teacher in the 5th grade each week, I am an eye-witness to your promise. Students speak of God with greater ease than many adults, and ask questions about God that elude others. They study Torah regularly and in my classes they explore familiar Torah stories with classical and modern insights. They identify with the Jewish people because they see themselves as Judaism’s future. It’s true from the moment they enter Shlenker School as our youngest children, to the time they graduate as proud Shlenker alumni. 

I’m also an eye-witness to your promise through the personal hours and resources you give to Shlenker School every day. Volunteers are invaluable to Shlenker’s success. Board and PTO leadership guide the school program to excellence. Committee volunteers turn fundraisers into community builders, and playground fun into carnival extravaganzas. Shlenker is more than a school; it’s a place to be and to grow. 

I’m also grateful for the financial giving every family makes through tuition and annual gifts. Private school is a privilege; Jewish Day School education is recognized as a means to Judaism’s strength in the future. Only Jewish summer camps and Israel experiences can claim the same results. But, as much as we prize Reform Jewish day school education, few are available and fewer are thriving. Shlenker School is a jewel in the crown of Reform Jewish day school education because you have found a way to give Shlenker to your children. 

On behalf of the rabbis and cantor of Congregation Beth Israel, thank you, parents and grandparents, for entrusting your dear children to Shlenker School. Most of all, thank you for keeping your promise now and in the future. 


Rabbi David Lyon

Categorized under:  Elementary EducationPreschool

05/10/2013 04:32 PM Posted by: Poster Avatar
“Life is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re going to get.”  Thanks, Forrest.  Or, rather, thanks to your Momma.  Some days I feel like I have several boxes of chocolates to confront in one day and I am hesitant to open up any of them.  In case you haven’t heard, the musical will be held in the Sanctuary this year, which should be interesting in many ways — a huge box of chocolates for us to explore.  There are so many positives that come with this change in venue:  seating, comfort, clearer sound, space.  I am very excited, although my vision has yet to be realized.
When the musical comes around, I know the teachers dread the changes in their schedules, classes have to miss out on specialist sessions, and students are even more stimulated than usual.  The choreographers are amazed at how the personality of a class can change from morning to afternoon.  Students are enthused with all the creativity and turn into costume designers, choreographers and stage managers.  The anticipation pervades everything else for the three weeks of preparation and production.

As I enter my “golden” years, I find that I have become much more patient.  This is definitely in my favor; however, I seem to be more sensitive and take things to heart a bit too much.  I believe this comes from working with the little people.  I want everyone to be happy with what they get to do.  I want every child to get to be on the front row at some point, even though it doesn’t always work out.  I want every parent to have their flush of pride when they see their performer onstage.  I want every person to find the chocolate they are hoping for in that box.  I have to remind myself that I don’t make the chocolates, I simply provide the box.

“That’s Entertainment!” is Wednesday, May 22, 7:00pm, in the CBI Sanctuary.  Plan to come and support these wonderful kids.  And, please support this amazing Fifth grade class who started with me in PreK-4, my first year at Shlenker.  I love them dearly and I am going to miss them.  

Categorized under:  Elementary EducationPreschool

05/06/2013 09:08 AM Posted by: Karen Miller Poster Avatar
No Place for Hate at The Shlenker School
Our school community is committed to creating a school atmosphere where each student feels safe, valued and able to succeed. Led by the No Place for Hate coalition, students, staff and parents have spent the past year implementing school wide projects to promote and sustain an inclusive school environment.  The projects focused on manners, kindness, respecting everyone, recognizing and identifying the best ways to handle bullying, positive methods to resolve conflict, and acknowledging that working together is always a great fit.
As a result of these efforts, The Shlenker School proudly continues the tradition of earning the distinction as a “No Place for Hate” school. No Place for Hate® is a program developed by the Anti-Defamation League to educate children, parents, teachers and school faculty on how to have a bully-free environment. This philosophy is a natural partner with our core value B’tselem Elohim, which means that we are all created in God’s image and worthy of respect. 
The year began with school members signing the ADL’s Resolution of Respect and making the promise to be kind, treat others with respect and report bullying to an adult. This commitment was put into action with weekly Mix It Up lunches which had students randomly sitting with different groups, providing a chance to get to know others in new ways.  Another school wide activity was Manners Matter Week. The students had daily lessons about the importance of manners and made posters emphasizing manners that were displayed around the school. During weekly Divrei Torah, students share words representing the message which is displayed on our “Words to Live By” bulletin board.
In the fall, World Kindness Day was recognized at The Shlenker School. Students decorated strips of paper representing kindness which were linked together creating a kindness chain, a visual reminder of the importance of kindness. In the spring, fifth graders designed chesed cards, developed skits, poems and messages which were shared during Shlenker Chesed Week. Chesed cards were shared whenever students experienced or witnessed kind actions and words.Wednesdays at Shlenker are No Place for Hate t-shirt days. This year, a contest was held and students were encouraged to submit their designs for a new t-shirt representing what No Place for Hate means to them. Some of their powerful messages included: “Peace is always the answer,”  “Close the book on hate,” “Hate just doesn’t fit in” and “Life is too short to fight.”

Our fifth grade students are currently working on a video as their graduation legacy to Shlenker. They have chosen to highlight the song “Send It On.” The message clearly represents the No Place for Hate philosophy that we must all continually build an environment of inclusion and acceptance.
“There's power in all of the choices we make.                                                                          
So I'm starting now. There's not a moment to waste”

Categorized under:  Elementary Education

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