In the eleven years since Ateres Tzipora opened its doors, Lakewood has experienced an unprecedented and unparalleled chinuch approach. With true simchas hachaim, each student is cultivated with the tools to attain a lifelong connection to HaShem.
Ateres Tzipora is known as the source of enriching and creative hashkafah programs. Through original songs, drama, dance, props and masterful bulletin boards, students are permeated with powerful lessons which leave indelible impressions. Each year, the theme song composed by the Menaheles, each a masterpiece in its own right, is introduced and sung in unison, reinforcing the inspirational messages. The heartfelt lyrics motivate and drive the students throughout the year. Some previous themes have been “Ashira L’HaShem B’Chayay: Living on a Positive Note,” “Orach Chaim Lmaalaa Lmaskil: Reaching Ever Higher,” “Limnos Yameinu Ken Hoda: Making Each Moment Count,” and “Zeh Keili Vanvehu: Painting it Beautiful.” Assemblies, which take place on Rosh Chodesh, impart meaningful lessons branching out from and reiterating the main theme. The assemblies are featured in the school’s bright, dynamic newsletter, “The Crown Jewel.” Last year, “Tov Lehodos L’HaShem, Appreciating our Gifts” had the students planting tulips in Chodesh Cheshvan as they learned to appreciate the gift of rain. Mashiv Haruach Umorid Hageshem took on a whole new meaning.
Currently the theme is “Moneh Mispar Lakochavim: Each Girl a Shining Star.” Ateres Tzipora has been highlighting each girl’s ability to be a “star” and rise to the occasion in every situation, aiming to be her best. More than that, as stars, each girl is instilled with the understanding that she has her own unique “sparkle” which shines and leaves its mark. One chodesh, when the emphasis was on tznius, they learned that “our glow comes from within!” Another chodesh, to demonstrate hashgacha pratis, the talmidos internalized that in a whole big world, HaShem is so focused on each person that she feels and knows, “the spotlight is on me!” In the Pesach preparation days, the girls were “flexing” their middos and “exercising” their ruchniusdik abilities to make the most of the busy time. This Pesach, Ateres Tzipora students were “all stars!”
Upon entering Mrs. Shulamith Insel’s vibrant office, one is immediately pulled to the unique “wallpaper” consisting of hundreds of sincere and hartzig notes sent by grateful students, graduates, parents, and grandparents. It is difficult to adequately describe the outstanding influence of the Menaheles, Mrs. Insel. It is due to her unwavering devotion to each Talmidah, coupled with her vision of guiding them to tap into their qualities to achieve greatness, that the school has seen incredible success.” Together with her handpicked staff of dedicated, well-rounded teachers who take true pride in and are deeply connected to this mission, they make this all a reality.
“One of the many benefits of working in Ateres Tzipora is the opportunity to work under Mrs. Insel. Her dealings with people, both adults and children, serve as an example of stellar bein adam l’chavero. Being in her presence is worth more than any shalom bayis, chinuch, or parenting class!” offers one of the staff members. With her keen understanding and insight into human nature, she is capable of imbuing her students with emunah and bitachon, enabling them menuchas hanefesh and the self-esteem to accomplish all they set their minds to.
“Mrs. Insel knows how to deal with each student exactly in the way that is needed for her at that moment. If the girl needs a loving approach or a more firm approach, she knows that perfect, delicate balance. If a student enters the office angry, sad, or upset, she comes out feeling happy and good about herself, empowered to make better choices. They receive the proper discipline. Some principals have their ‘one way,’ whether rigid or soft but Mrs. Insel understands children so well and handles each one in the most suitable manner,” says Mrs. Faiga Leah Cohen, Fourth Grade Morah. There is no shortage of stories which portray Mrs. Insel’s koach in propelling her girls to soar. She is truly machsiv them and they are therefore eager to bring nachas!
One grandparent, Mrs. Yehudis Newman, a veteran mechaneches exclaims, “At Ateres Tzipora, everything is done for the child’s benefit. It’s not about what’s good for the school or for reputation. When you walk into the building, you are greeted by pleasant people. They instill in the children a true simcha for their whole future and for generations to come. With Mrs. Insel’s one smile, a girl’s entire life is impacted.”
As is the case every year, at this year’s Parent Orientation, Mrs. Insel delivered a moving speech on chinuch habanos. She spoke about the deep, real needs of our children and the relationship they so yearn for with their parents. She quoted the following poem, “If I Had my Child to Raise over Again,” written by an unknown author.
If I had my child to raise over again,
I’d finger paint more, and point the finger less.
I’d do less correcting, and more connecting.
I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I would care to know less, and know to care more.
I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.
I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I’d run through more fields, and gaze at more stars.
I’d do more hugging, and less tugging.
I would be firm less often, and affirm much more.
I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I’d teach less about the love of power, and more about the power of love.
Mrs. Insel concluded with a fitting story. Rabbi Yissachar Frand tells of how he and his family visited a rock museum one day of chol hamoed. They saw various unexciting exhibits. The last exhibit featured a glass case full of very plain, very ordinary rocks. However, when the lights were turned off and an ultra-violet light was focused on the rocks, an amazing transformation occurred. Each rock looked like a beautiful, sparkling gemstone and no two were the same. Rabbi Frand asked his daughter if she could explain what had happened, and she answered perfectly. “If you shine the right light on something,” she said, “it can become a gem.”