The Shlenker School

Congregation Beth Israel, the oldest Reform Jewish synagogue in Texas, accepted its first nursery school class of 15 children in 1967.  The Shlenker School is named for the late Irvin M. Shlenker, a prominent Jewish Houston philanthropist and a past president of Congregation Beth Israel.  The Shlenker School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity, or national or ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, financial aid policies, or other school-administered programs.

Fast Facts

School TypeReligious, CoedGrades ServedEE-5th
Religious AffiliationJewish - ReformEnrollment260
UniformsYes   Grade 538
Date Founded1982   Grade 439
EndowmentN/A   Grade 336
Student / Teacher Ratio7.60   Grade 243
Minority Enrollment10%   Grade 132
Head of SchoolDr. Michelle Barton   Kindergarten27
Admissions DirectorTara Levinthall Gassett   PreK45
Academic TracksCreative CurriculumSports ProgramsN/A
AP or IB CoursesN/ASports LeagueN/A
First Bell8:30 am
Last Bell3:30 pm
Prime Entry Points18 months, KTuition 4-5$19,900
Tuition 1-3$19,150
Tuition Kindergarten$18,650
Tuition PreK$14,350
Financial Aid StudentsN/A

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The Shlenker School in Detail

The Shlenker School grew out of the daycare program at Congregation Beth Israel, the temple with which the school is still affiliated. The elementary grades were added in 1982, when the school was formally established, becoming the first Reform Jewish day school in Texas. The Schlenker School is named in memory of the late Mr. Irvin M. Shlenker, a Houston banker and philanthropist of the 1950’s who was a prominent member of the Beth Israel community. In the words of his daughter, Mr. Shlenker was characterized by “openhearted generosity of spirit, passion for Judaism, for children, and for all humanity.” Following these values, the curriculum at The Shlenker School emphasizes “the development of the whole child” and incorporates Jewish religious education at every level.

The Shlenker School is affiliated with Congregation Beth Israel, a Reform Jewish synagogue. Jewish religious instruction and values are incorporated into the curriculum at every level. The school advertises this as a major benefit, citing studies which indicate evening and weekend religious education does not allow sufficient time for children to develop a deep commitment to their faith and Jewish heritage.

In the school’s infant and pre-kindergarten programs, the cycle of Jewish holidays provides a framework for activities. In the elementary school, stories from the Torah are used as jumping-off points to cover various topics and subjects within the standard elementary curriculum. At higher grades, students learn about Judaism in modern history, with a focus on Israel and on the Holocaust. Additionally, the Hebrew language is taught from age 3 onward.

The Shlenker School also offers a weekly Kabbalot Shabbat service for students. Older students have opportunities to participate actively in the service by reading from the Torah.

The Shlenker School sits just north of Brays Bayou in southwest Houston, outside the 610 Loop. It is located on the same plot of land as Congregation Beth Israel, just across the bayou from Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center. The surrounding area is primarily residential.

The spacious campus which the school shares with Beth Israel also includes the Shlenker School Backyard, a nature-oriented play area which the school uses for outdoor lessons.

Notable academic facilities include the Schachtel Library, which houses nearly 20,000 volumes.

The admission application for The Shlenker School is available online only. It must be submitted by mid-January. Parents are also responsible for giving a Records Request Form and Teacher Evaluation Form to the appropriate parties at the student’s current school. Prospective students may also be asked to complete a cognitive assessment (for grades K-1) or academic assessment (grades 2-5), which parents must schedule individually with the school. While classroom visits are not required, they are available by appointment for students in grades K-5.

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The Shlenker School places a strong emphasis on “the development of the whole child” and spiritual growth in the Jewish faith. These are the pillars upon which the curriculum is based.

For ages 18 months to 4 years, the curriculum includes age-appropriate activities centered on the Jewish holiday cycle. For toddlers, these activities focus on trust, self-control, and adaptation to a non-home environment. For three-year-olds, the focus is on initiative, engagement, and development of cognitive skills; four-year-olds follow a similar structure, but with added activities geared towards preparing them for kindergarten and a classroom environment. At all levels, the preschool provides exposure to music, art, and dance, and older preschool students may also work with developing technology and reading skills.

For children in grades K-5, the usual subject areas covered in elementary school are approached with an emphasis on hands-on learning, and the traditional core curriculum is supplemented by Jewish religious education. In the elementary school as in the preschool, art and music are available for students at every grade level.

The Creative Curriculum ® is the foundation for programming throughout the school.

The Shlenker School employs a certified dyslexia therapist for students who struggle with reading. No other information about the school’s accommodations for students with special needs is available at this time.

Hebrew is a required component of the curriculum at Shlenker from PreK-3 onward. Preschool students study it once a week, and elementary school students spend progressively more time on language learning. Fifth graders spend 45 minutes per day on Hebrew. Language instruction is tied in to religious education.

Preschool students have activities with visual art, music, and dance. Elementary school students take visual art and music classes which incorporate art and music history, the study of symbolism, and the study of Jewish culture in addition to hands-on experience with the arts.

Elementary school students showcase their musical talents in several performances each year.

The Shlenker School’s students have the opportunity to work with technology from PreK-4 onward. Students use computers in the library and learn proper online etiquette. They also have opportunities to work with audio and video materials.

No information about The Shlenker School’s technology policy is available at this time.

The Shlenker School offers an Extended Day program for students who need to stay later than 3:30 pm. At Extended Day, children of all ages have play time, and elementary school students also have opportunities to work on homework. Academic After School programming is also offered as an alternative to Extended Day. Preschool students in the After School program have enrichment activities in addition to play time, and elementary school students in the After School program can take enrichment classes. These classes include Tae Kwon Do, Robotics, Chess, Choir, Art, Dance, Golf, and Tennis.

Additionally, fourth and fifth grade students have the opportunity to participate in structured activities on the school’s ROPES course, and fifth grade students participate in a retreat at Camp Allen.

The school also offers a summer camp for preschool students.

The Shlenker School does not have any interscholastic athletic programs. However, elementary school students can get exercise through P.E. and the Tae Kwon Do, Dance, Golf, and Tennis enrichment classes in the After School program.

Parents can get involved through the Shlenker Parent Association (SPA), which meets at 8:30 am on specified school days. The SPA organizes fundraisers throughout the year and arranges various school events and volunteer opportunities. Events put on by the SPA include Field Day, Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ Day, and religiously oriented celebrations. Volunteer services provided by the SPA include room parenting, staff appreciation events, birthday celebrations for students and staff, recycling, and many more.

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