JEWELS has become a pillar of hope for so many families in our community. Parents with children who have special needs have one less concern knowing that there is a school that will help their child grow and thrive.

How many years has JEWELS been around?

JEWELS is now in its 13th year. In 2012 we began with 2 classes and 13 students. Today, JEWELS has 11 classes and 75 students in 4 locations.

What is the highest grade in JEWELS?

JEWELS uses a level system rather than a conventional grade number system. That said, the oldest students in JEWELS are currently 15 years old. As our students continue to grow and develop, so do we. It’s amazing to see some of our students learning Gemora! It’s just as incredible to see others (not so) simply write their name. Every day students are taking steps forward to be the best they can be with what Hashem has given them. Students celebrate their achievements along with their incredible teachers and therapists.

Over the last few years, more and more organizations have opened to meet the needs of children with special education and special needs. Has JEWELS had a role in this phase of community growth?

Many incredible visionaries helped pave the way for the expansion of services in our community. JEWELS benefited from their efforts as well. JEWELS too has helped bring these issues out of the shadows and helped our community see how important it is to champion the mission of inclusion. The leadership of JEWELS is proud to have helped many of these organizations get started and enjoys working together with them to help our community.

Do you have to be enrolled in JEWELS as a student to be treated by the therapy clinic?

All children can receive therapy at the JEWELS Therapy Clinic. In fact, JEWELS sends therapists to the many schools in the Baltimore community. Many parents have engaged in the therapeutic services offered to take advantage of early intervention for their children and have been helped greatly by exceptional therapists with a keen eye for diagnostics. 

Are there any other JEWELS Schools in the US?

Actually, 3 schools have opened using the JEWELS model to create their own version. We are proud to have helped these new schools get off the ground and we continue to assist them whenever we can. It’s so gratifying to see other children and communities benefit from the trailblazing of the Baltimore community. We hope that more cities will jump on board.

We have been to your building and it is so beautiful and spacious. Why are you embarking on a new capital campaign?

Thank you. We love our building. When JEWELS moved in 2020, we projected that the building would reach capacity in 7-10 years. BH, our communities’ growth has skyrocketed and our growth has reflected this. We are nearing capacity sooner than we anticipated. Therefore, we are going to be building an addition to our building. We must meet the ever-growing needs of our community.

That’s very exciting. Can you tell us about what this new building will offer?

The additional space will offer more classrooms, therapy rooms, a soft space play area for our 2 and 3-year-olds, and so much more. The feature of this building will be a state-of-the-art Hydro Therapy Pool. We envision that adults in need of such therapies will also make use of the facility. Separate times for men and women will enable our community members to benefit from this very beneficial therapy.

The term special needs can be widely defined. What type of children typically attend JEWELS?

JEWELS is proud to offer a preschool program with neurotypical children learning side by side with children who have special needs. Some of our students have a wide variety of genetic conditions, health challenges, developmental delays, etc.

How does JEWELS address so many different types of children in the same school?

Help from above, Individualized attention, a 3:1 student-teacher ratio, and lots of love!

Are all 75 students in the JEWELS building?

55 of our students attend school in the “mother ship”. We are proud to partner with Bais Yaakov and Talmudical Academy of Baltimore where we have elementary and middle school-aged classes in both locations. We call these our JEWELS Satellite classes. BY and TA are incredibly generous and inviting to our students. Our students feel like they are part of the community. It’s incredible to see gestures of friendship and achdus displayed by the TA and BY staff and students. Sometimes I wonder who benefits more.

Thank you for your time and all of this exciting information. Our community is fortunate to have this JEWEL in our community. Please tell us about your upcoming campaign.

On January 15-17, JEWELS will launch its annual campaign. This campaign is vital to our success and viability. This campaign will also help us build our new addition. We hope that you will open your hearts (and pockets😉) so that our JEWELS can continue to build brighter dreams!

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