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Welcome to the 2015-2016 school year

August 14 2015
August 14 2015


Shalom EPJA Parents,

I want to welcome you and your children back to school for another promising school year at the El Paso Jewish Academy. As we enter the 40th anniversary of our school, I am very excited about all the new things happening this milestone year of our school. The 2015-2016 school year brings with it several new and innovative improvements to our school. First and foremost, we want to welcome the 13 new students and 3 new teachers. For the first time in over 20 years, we are excited to bring back a  Kindergarten class to the EPJA. We can now offer a complete K-8 education to our Jewish community. Nancy Ferro, just retired from 25 years of teaching kindergarten in the El Paso ISD, and Nili Arusi who has been with us as a Jewish educator for over 15 years, will be co-teaching our new Kindergarten. Teresa Thompson, who is certified in gifted and talented curriculum and experienced in teaching both 4th grade Connections and middle school Science Technology in the El Paso ISD, will be our new Grade 4 teacher. Paula Warnock, with a background in engineering and teaching both math and Connections in the El Paso ISD, will teach Grades 4-7 math. She will bring her real world experiences in engineering at Boeing developing our nation's aerospace programs to the EPJA where students can benefit from the "E" and "M" in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). Along with Donald Thompson, who will return for his second year of heading up our Science department and being our technology coordinator, we are furthering our goal of developing an outstanding STEM program at the EPJA. Beverly Given, who launched our gifted and talented program two years ago in Grades 4 and 5, will move with her students to teach the Grade 6 Humanities program. Patricia Crossett will go from teaching Grades 2-3 to Grades 1-2. In addition, all students from Kindergarten through Grade 7 will have a weekly class in the arts under the instruction of our resident artist and fitness expert, Theresa Hopkins.

I am excited to announce that all of our teachers are receiving training in gifted and talented strategies so that they can continue to meet the differentiated instruction our students need and expand their critical and creative thinking. In fact, our teachers will be participating in the the six-hour workshop this year entitled "The Thinking Classroom." It will be conducted by Fara Green, the former Director of Advanced Academic Services in the El Paso ISD. Mrs. Green has provided the teachers previous training on the subject of depth and complexity and critical and creative thinking.

Our highly experienced team of Judaics teachers, Esther Kuchinsky and Nili Arusi, will continue teaching and mentoring our students to become the best they can be as it relates to Judaics and Hebrew language. The EPJA ideal graduate profile includes beliefs and philosophies, behavioral characteristics, Jewish knowledge, general knowledge, and skills in Jewish learning and practice.  Regarding the Hebrew language, this includes the ability to read and write Hebrew, converse in basic Hebrew, lead services, and comprehend text in Hebrew Bible and Rabbinic literature. Benchmarks in each of these areas are established for each grade level so as to meet the Ideal Graduate Profile. One of our 2014 graduates who met this profile was Isaac Weislow who graduated with academic honors, received the President’s Education Award, also  received the first TMG Award. The TMG stands for a student’s exemplary practice of Torah, Mitzvoth, and Gemilut Hasadim. Our Board President, Elliot Berg, an alumnus of EPJA himself, envisioned a "forest of our future", Ya'ar Ateed, symbolizing in a living manner the future leaders that EPJA produces. To this end, he donated a tree planted in honor of the recipient.

We are also working hard to improve our school administration as we go digital. Laura Issela Flores is our new Education Secretary. You can expect to receive progress reports, report cards, surveys, lunch menus and other items electronically. As we continue to focus on the responsibility of the Jewish people to be a light among the nations in making the world a better place, we hope to be more environmentally conscious in conserving our resources. Our Digital Initiative is the first step in this process.  Please check your inbox and junk mail folders for emails from our front office email address: office@elpasojewishacademy.com

My email address remains the same: emontes@elpasojewishacademy.com

Another exciting improvement to the EPJA in our dress code are the uniforms the students will be wearing when they return on Thursday, August 20th. We will gather in front of the school at 8:15 where Rabbi Leon will lead the students in prayer and extend a blessing for the coming school year. You are invited to participate. You will have an opportunity to meet your teachers at our Back to School Night on Thursday, August 27th. We will be sending out additional details, but please mark your calendar as the teachers look forward to meeting and greeting you.

Finally, let me thank you again for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of our school. I have truly enjoyed the past two years getting to know each and every one of our families at the EPJA, and I am confident that we will continue to make our great school even better in the future.


Elizabeth Montes

Head of School


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