The Keser Shem Tov Program is designed to support young people who are looking to learn and grow in their own way outside of a formal school setting. Using many resources from the community, each student's program is uniquely designed, based on their specific strengths, interests, and needs. The program is non-coercive, allowing students to choose what, when, and how they want to grow and learn.
What sort of activities are Keser Shem Tov students involved in?
In addition to the foundational pieces of Torah, Avodah, and Gemilus Chasadim, we encourage students to spend significant amounts of time pursuing areas of learning that interest them. We help and support students in finding instructors, internships, volunteer opportunities, and resources to pursue learning that is meaningful to them.
Some of these areas can include things such as: Music, Scouting, Outdoor Skills, Sports, Business, Graphic Design, Art, Drama, Dance, Photography, Videography, Animal Care, Construction, Carpentry, Horseback riding, Creative Writing, Computer programming, and Physical Fitness.
How does Keser Shem Tov differ from a school?
The Keser Shem Tov program has no mandatory classes and does not issue credits or diplomas. Rather, members of Keser Shem Tov are offered a rich array of academic and other opportunities based on their interests, and they are given a support system to discover their optimal daily schedule and growth opportunities. Keser Shem Tov members register as homeschooling children and report their learning and academic progress to their district as required by law. Keser Shem Tov staff helps in the process of fulfilling all regulations.
What do members do after they leave Keser Shem Tov?
With an individualized program, each child's experience will be unique. When leaving Keser Shem Tov, members have a broad range of options open in front of them.
Members may decide to go to a yeshiva or seminary and engage in higher-level Torah learning.
Members may decide to get a career or vocational degree that will allow them to go straight into a profession.
Members may earn a high school diploma through engagement in independent, remote, or in-person learning while at Keser Shem Tov, and they then may apply to four-year colleges.
Members may enroll in community college as a path toward earning a high school diploma, and may then continue to higher education.
Members may take a high school equivalency test (such as a GED or HiSET) to earn a high school diploma and to go on to higher education.
What process is followed for children interested in the Keser Shem Tov Program?
When a family comes to Keser Shem Tov, the first order of business is to get to know that child well. What are this child's areas of strength and passion, and how can we help this child thrive in those areas? We then work on seeing how we can design a program that will best meet that child's needs and accentuate strengths.
We then form a "team" around that child whose job it is to support the child in their growth in every way possible. The team usually consists of KST staff, the child's family members, close friends and community members who all have the child's best interest in mind.
We then identify the goals that this child has, both short term and long term, and begin to design a program that will help them reach those goals.
As a self-directed learning program, all activities and lessons are non-coercive; students are not forced to learn anything that they do not want to learn. They are treated with respect and given a full say in their education. Hence, the design of the Keser Shem Tov program for each teen is a group effort between advisors, parents, and children. Together, we come up with a plan that can make sense.
What is the Hashkafa of the Keser Shem Tov Program?
We are an Orthodox institution committed to the ideals of Torah and Mitzvot. As a program aimed at finding the strength in each child, we do not commit ourselves to one specific hashkafa, but rather strive to help all children in our community who need an alternative to a traditional yeshiva to thrive. We get to know each child, their family, and community, and we work within that framework to creating an individualized program.
Our program is open to both young men and women, but classes and activities are separate.
Our program is designed to bring out the best in each and every child through a strong sense of love and support. We aim to never reject or discourage any child based on their current level of observance or commitment.