Special education programs at the Ottawa Jewish Community School (OJCS) and Torah Day School of Ottawa were the beneficiaries of the silent auction held at the Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s 25th Annual Golf Tournament.
The tournament, held July 9 at Rideau View Golf Club in Manotick, raised more than $223,000 in total for Federation’s Annual Campaign – including $51,000 from the silent auction, which was specifically earmarked to support special education at Ottawa’s Jewish day schools.
Sarah Beutel, Federation vice-president of community building, explained that silent auctions at previous years’ tournaments were for prizes, such as weekend getaways and outdoor packages. This year, however, Federation decided to “auction” special education at Jewish day schools instead.
Beutel said Federation decided to modify the silent auction, “because this year was the 25th Annual Golf Tournament and because it was something unique and a little different.” Special education, she added, “is a big need in the schools, so we decided to try it out.”
The auction raised more than $50,000 in less than 10 minutes and the two schools will be begin to use the funds for special education immediately.
OJCS Head of School Jon Mitzmacher said the school is grateful.
“With this increase in funding, we will be better able to support our current students and be better positioned to be a more inclusive Jewish day school for our community,” he said.
Mitzmacher said OJCS plans to use the funds to boost literacy for students with special needs, “whether it’s an uneven reading development, a diagnosed reading disorder, or a need for acceleration with accessing literature beyond grade level.”
The funds will also be used to purchase individualized material, tools and furniture for students, such as standing workstations, weighted lap mats, noise-cancelling headphones, and wedge cushions.
Finally, Mitzmacher said, OJCS will use the funds to offer additional Jewish studies resource support for students, in order to “reinforce their reading and comprehension skills, as well as help them access grade-level appropriate materials.”
The grant to Torah Day School of Ottawa will be used to hire a part-time social-emotional learning specialist.
“We are looking to get someone to come in and work with teachers on the social, emotional and possibly behavioral needs of children,” said Rabbi Zischa Shaps, executive director of the Orthodox day school.
Rabbi Shaps said the Torah Day School is “very excited” Federation chose to make special education a focus of this year’s silent auction.
“It’s a great need today, especially as there is more demand for special education, so we appreciate that.”