Education Briefs

AJA Wins City Approval AJA Logo

The Sandy Springs City Council gave unanimous approval Tuesday, June 16, to a use permit for Atlanta Jewish Academy to upgrade its Northland Drive campus to incorporate its high school, now operating in Doraville at the former Yeshiva Atlanta campus.

AJA closed on the sale of that high school campus on Raymond Drive earlier in June, but the school will lease space at the property from the new owner, the Tapestry School, for at least the next school year.

Sandy Springs approved the changes to the former Greenfield Hebrew Academy campus to serve the school from preschool through 12th grade. AJA’s plans call for an increase from 117,000 to 185,000 square feet of space through the addition of a gymnasium and 14 classrooms.

The school also will add a soccer field that will not have lights. The plans call for additional parking spaces but fewer than the ordinance-required 10 spaces per high school classroom. The city accepted a total of 180 parking spaces, 58 fewer than mandated, under the condition that AJA stick to a parking policy that mandates carpools for student drivers and uses Congregation Beth Tefillah for overflow parking, banning students from parking on neighborhood streets.

The school will not exceed a total of 720 students on the campus; that total was already approved for GHA.

“Our plan is to house the leading program for a unified infant through twelfth grade school in a leading facility, and we are two major steps closer to one gorgeous campus in the heart of Sandy Springs,” Ian Ratner, the president of the AJA board, said in an email announcement June 18. He said news about construction should come in the near future.

Etgar 36 Founder Wins $5K

Billy Planer, the founder and director of Etgar 36, recently received the annual $5,000 Mintz Family Foundation Award for Creative Jewish Education.

Etgar 36 is a cross-country travel program for Jewish teens. Its goal is to inspire teens to become engaged politically and socially.

“I was the director at Ahavath Achim Synagogue in Buckhead for a number of years,” Planer said. “I decided they could and should do deeper and better programming for the teens than just doing our annual trip to Disney World.”

Planer said the grant money will enable Etgar 36 to be more affordable.

“We’re also on our 13th summer trip,” he said. “So we’re going to have a big bar mitzvah party in January, which is basically a huge reunion for kids who’ve gone on trips, as well as friends and supporters of the program, so it will help with that as well.”

Etgar 36 is traditionally a summer program; however, day schools and youth programs across the country have hired Etgar 36 to create and run smaller versions during the school year.

The trip itinerary is region-specific, Planer said. Trips in the Southeast emphasize civil rights.

In addition to visiting historic sites, teens learn about the Jewish place in American history.