Educating our children in the richness of their past,
the diversity of their present and the possibilities for their future.

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Student Services


At Chicago Jewish Day School, we believe it is essential to educate the whole child — taking into account the social, emotional, academic, spiritual, physical and creative needs of each individual student. The CJDS Reach Department is designed specifically to help us fulfill our mission to help children become good learners and good citizens, friends, and partners. To meet students where they are and support them and their families in their journey, the Reach Department consists of academic support, social/emotional support, and culminating in support during the transition to high school. To facilitate this, CJDS has four learning specialists, one part-time school psychologist, 2 part-time social workers, a high school admissions counselor, and Hebrew teachers who support the Hebrew curriculum.

Reach Academic Services

The CJDS Reach program provides support in the areas of phonemic awareness, phonics, reading decoding and fluency, reading comprehension, mathematics, written expression, executive functioning and Hebrew. It is an individualized,  systematic, structured, and differentiated learning program intended to meet the academic needs of students and support classroom learning by providing intensive supplemental instruction.

Reach instruction in the areas of literacy and math can include any of the following: 

  • Strengthening and closing gaps in foundational skills and understandings;  
  • Differentiating and modifying classroom grade level curriculum and instruction; 
  • Push-in services: The Reach teacher provides classroom support services by entering the classroom and providing support to students via co-teaching and/or learning centers; and/or
  • Pull-out services: The Reach teacher provides supplemental academic instruction in a small group format outside of the classroom.

These instructional decisions are made between the classroom teacher and the Reach teacher and are driven by the unique needs of the child. It is noted that students often require additional academic support or more specialized support than is provided by the Reach program. In these cases, private providers will be recommended.

Classroom Collaboration

At CJDS, we emphasize professional communication between educators to best meet the needs of our Reach students.  Reach teachers and classroom teachers regularly collaborate and work in close partnership to support student learning and address students' social and emotional needs. The following list depicts some examples of how Reach staff and classroom teachers collaborate:

  • Review of Individualized Student Service Plan (ISSP);
  • Scheduled Reach teacher-classroom teacher meetings;
  • Scheduled meetings between case managers and classroom teachers; and
  • Informal daily communication regarding current classroom curriculum and student needs.

Progress Monitoring

Reach professionals engage in systematic assessment and data collection to ensure each student is making adequate and appropriate progress.

Case Management

Case managers support students who have Individualized Student Service Plans (ISSP) by coordinating with teachers, school service providers, private providers and parents to ensure services are implemented according to the plan. Case managers gather information, data, and updates from teachers; observe students in class and social settings to monitor progress; respond swiftly to situations that directly relate to the student’s learning profile; and facilitate communication between teachers, parents, and providers on student progress.

School Psychologist

Our CJDS school psychologist does not directly work with students but supports teachers in both the general classroom and the Reach department. The school psychologist collaborates with teachers and parents to support children’s academic, social, and emotional needs. This may include classroom observations, teacher and parent collaboration, and the development of an Individualized Student Service Plan (see below). In addition, the school psychologist will recommend and/or refer students for outside school evaluations and/or support services (e.g. speech, language, counseling, etc.). He also collaborates and communicates with evaluators and private specialists/therapists that are working with CJDS students.

Individualized Student Service Plan (ISSP)

An Individualized Student Service Plan (“ISSP”) is a CJDS internal document that articulates a student’s unique educational or social/emotional needs and identifies services and classroom supports and/or accommodations that will facilitate and maximize that child’s growth and learning. Our ISSPs are written to educate teachers and service providers on the unique learning profile of that student, usually based on the results of a private neuropsychoeducational evaluation, to allow for thoughtful and goal oriented implementation of accommodations and services. The ISSP is updated annually, or as needed, by the student's support team which includes parents, teachers, Reach staff, outside providers and any other appropriate stakeholders.  

There may be occasions where students may be referred for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Plan. The school psychologist will guide students and families through an evaluation process with Chicago Public Schools’ Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services (“ODLSS”). 

School Social Worker

The CJDS school social worker supports our students and their learning communities by developing, facilitating, reinforcing and nurturing healthy connections within the classroom, between students and teachers, within small groups and between individual students. The goal of the school social worker is to help students fully participate as positive and productive members within their learning and social communities and to help them fully participate in mutually beneficial relationships with their peers. The school social worker does not provide psychotherapy for individual students, but rather concentrates on the above social and educational goals. In most instances, this means the school social worker’s focus is on direct service inside the classroom during morning meeting, class time, advisory (for Middle School), and/or during group work. She employs a social emotional learning curriculum that complements the Responsive Classroom philosophy and approach implemented by the classroom teachers and includes teaching students strategies and skills such as resolving conflict, engaging in social negotiation, managing stress/anxiety, and/or learning to take someone else’s perspective.  

In urgent situations, the social worker will intervene when acute needs arise. For students with on-going therapeutic needs, the social worker will refer students to outside providers as needed. In those instances where students are already working with outside therapeutic services, the social worker will collaborate and consult with parents and outside providers and then, in turn, help case managers and classroom teachers implement appropriate student support.  

High School Search, Placement and Transition

CJDS believes that the high school search, placement and transition process should be driven by the social, emotional and educational needs of the student. We will help families identify educational environments (independent, public, and Jewish high schools) that will foster continued growth in all aspects of students’ lives. 

For students who receive Reach services, the continuation of which is essential for success in high school, we facilitate a process with Chicago Public Schools to memorialize those services either in the form of an Individual Education Plan (“IEP”) or a 504. These plans are legal documents and will ensure continuity of services in high school.  

How are students referred for Reach Services?

Students are referred to Reach when teachers identify concerns with student learning, growth, and/or their social-emotional well-being that routine classroom differentiation or interventions have not or cannot sufficiently address. Classroom teachers, administrators, a case manager, and parents will confer to determine next steps. These steps may include:

  • Administration of additional assessments to determine need for academic Reach support;
  • Consultation with the school psychologist or social worker;
  • Observations by school personnel;
  • Small group work with the school worker; 
  • Consultations with the family’s private providers; 
  • Creation of Individual Student Service Plans; and/or
  • Recommendation for a neuropsychological evaluation to identify specific learning needs.  
Students are referred to the Reach program when they do not effectively respond to instructional differentiation in the classroom. Reach services are provided as a supplement to classroom instruction.
What should I do if I think my child needs more support?

If you are wondering if your child needs more support, your first point of communication should always be your child’s classroom teacher in Lower School or advisor in Middle School. Teachers will then confer with the appropriate professionals to determine if a referral to Reach is appropriate.

Student Services Team

Sarah Fox Sparber
Director of Reach Support
Degrees and Accreditation:
-Bachelor of Science: Elementary Education, University of IL at Urbana-Champaign, 2003
-Master of Education: Curriculum Studies, DePaul University, Chicago IL,  2011
-Reading and Teacher Leadership
Years Teaching: 19
Years at CJDS: 19
Michael Gladstein
School Psychologist
Degrees and Accreditation:
-Education Specialist Degree: Loyola University in Chicago, 2006
-Illinois Licensed School Psychologist
Years in Education/Psychology: 28
Years at CJDS: 12

Nina Harris
School Social Worker

Degrees and Accreditation:
-Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Drake University
-Master of Social Work, University of Chicago
-LCSW, 1995
Years in Social Work: 35
Years at CJDS: 6

Amy Pappas
School Social Worker

Degrees and Accreditation:
-Bachelor of Social Work, Michigan State University
-Master of Social Work, New York University
-Type 73 Certificate, Loyola University
LCSW, 2005
Years in Social Work: 17
Years at CJDS: First year

Carrie Weber-Greenberg
Middle School Learning Specialist

Degrees and Accreditation:
-Bachelor of Science, Special Education, P-21, Learning and Behavior Disorders, LBS1, Murray State University
-Master of Education: Curriculum and Education, English as a Second Language, National Louis University
Years Teaching: 14
Years at CJDS: 6

Jen Alcakovic
Lower School Case Manager and Reach Teacher

Degrees and Accreditation:
-Bachelor of Science in Education, Washington University
-Master of Education: Educational Leadership and and Elementary Education, University of Pennsylvania
-PhD: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development, University of Minnesota
Years Teaching: 32
Years at CJDS: 3

Nancy Kamin
Lower School Case Manager and Reach Teacher

Degrees and Accreditation:
-Bachelor of Science in Psychology, DePaul University
-Master of Education Language and Literacy, National Louis University
-Certification: Wilson Dyslexia Practitioner 
Years Teaching: 13
Years at CJDS: First year
Rachel Levitt Sollinger
Middle School Student Services Coordinator
High School Placement
Diverse Learning Advocate
Degrees and Accreditation:
-Bachelor of Arts, Psychology: The Ohio State University
-Juris Doctorate: Chicago-Kent College of Law
-Masters of Education, Literature, Northwestern University
Years teaching: 10
Years at CJDS: 11