Under the direction of Dr. Barry Holtz, dean of the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education of The Jewish Theological Seminary, Theodore and Florence Baumritter Professor of Jewish Education, and director of the Melton Research Center for Jewish Education, the Melton Center builds on its foundations of excellence in curriculum development, teacher support, and scholarship in Jewish education.
The Melton Research Center, which is part of The Davidson School, was established in 1960 under the sponsorship of Samuel M. Melton of Columbus, Ohio, to improve the quality of Jewish education throughout North America. Since January 2011, Dr. Zachary Lasker led the Melton Center as part of his work as director of Educational Projects.
The Melton Research Center focuses on the designing, testing, implementation, and evaluation of new approaches to instructional methods, materials, and technology; models for organizational change; and staff and leadership development. Over the years, Melton curriculum materials have been used in more than 300 Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox congregational and day schools throughout the United States, Canada, and other countries.
The Melton Center partners with the Schechter Network in the creation of MaToK, the Bible curriculum for the Solomon Schechter Day Schools. An important part of MaToK is its accompanying professional development. MaToK's original development was funded by a generous grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation. MaToK is now used in community and Orthodox day schools throughout North America—and one school in Antwerp.
The Melton Center and USCJ also joined forces to create Project Etgar, a new approach to instruction and learning in the synagogue middle school.
Project Etgar educators discover their own learning styles and plan for teaching
with learning styles in mind.
Most recently, the Covenant Foundation awarded the Melton Center a three-year grant to plan curriculum for grades 3 to 5 in congregational schools and create the materials for 3rd grade. The new curriculum, Etgar Yesodi, will take into account new ways of promoting Jewish learning via experiential education, the arts, and technology, and will reinforce Melton's and JTS's commitment to serving Jewish education throughout North America. The curriculum is being piloted in select schools in North America.
Congregational school students explore the theme of gratitude via art interpretations of the days of Creation, then create their own representations with painters' tape. "We had lots of smiles and great comments from the adults who saw it in progress!" Scenes from two schools.
The Melton Center supports the new Standards and Benchmarks for the Teaching of TaNaKH in Jewish Day Schools initiative, which is funded by a generous grant from the AVI CHAI Foundation. This project is creating, testing, and disseminating standards for Bible study in Conservative, Reform, and community day schools. It has resulted in intense professional development for both teachers and instructional leaders in the field of Bible education.
Dr. Alvan Kaunfer (center) coordinates the New Teachers' Institute, for teachers who are new to
Standards and Benchmarks.