Q: What does it mean to educate from head to heart?

There was a time when schools focused on memorization and facts. Students sat in classrooms, listened to lectures, copiously wrote notes, and studied for tests. How much did they internalize what they learned?

At YSZ HS for Girls, we center our educational model on ensuring that our teachings are internalized from head to heart.

Q: So, how do we do it?

At YSZ, we have a student-centered innovative model of education where our teachers strive to make our learning relatable to our girls. Teachers inspire curiosity by asking essential questions and creating enduring understandings.

Rabbi Benhaim explains, “When learning is relegated to the mind, it is simply mental gymnastics, and like any information, there is a disconnect between it and the receiver. Learning needs to be “settled upon our hearts” – that is how we connect on a deeper level. We say in Shema, “V’yadata ha’yom va’hasheivota el l’vavecha” – we need to bring the knowledge and inculcate it deeper to water the heart with chochmah.”

It is through this process of self-discovery and exploration that the students of YSZ Girls HS become mature, creative, and develop the sophistication of mindset needed to live as b’nos Yisrael in the 21st century.

Menahelet Mrs. Zerykier adds, “We inspire our students to connect the lessons of the classroom to their daily lives. When we challenge our students to read, annotate, and ask questions, they think critically about the world and become curious lifelong learners. We want our students to discover real life applications to their learning.”

At YSZ HS, students are challenged to connect to their learning. “You can’t live without a brain or without a heart. The real power is when we use them together and combine our strengths, then, we can accomplish ANYTHING,” freshman Michal Muradov stated emphatically. “If you allow yourself to take what you learn and feel it in your heart as well, then you are really learning,” says sophomore Leana Leah Kataev.

Sophomore Naomi Mordukhaev shares, “Classes are designed so that we always take something away from them.”

With the annual theme of b’chol ha’lev, with a whole heart, the school focuses on building rich co-curricular programs to promote character development and student strengths. Mrs. Zerykier notes, “The goal is that each student strives to grow to her full potential and become the best version of herself. There are so many stages to teenage development. Here at YSZ High School, we focus on all of those stages. We support our girls in developing a host of skills. We build resilience, character, integrity, and confidence alongside our curriculum.

“Our student programs are designed to inspire true kedushah, growth, and a connection to Hashem. Our girls think about how they can discover themselves, develop real connections with others and with Hashem. It is our goal that they leave high school understanding that they truly matter and that they each have a unique mission and purpose in this world,” related Mrs. Zerykier in a final thought.