R & D Department

The Akiba R&D Department studies, prototypes, researches, and scales new teaching and learning approaches, practices, and systems that advance relevant learning for our students and the field of education. It is a system that ensures new programs, models and ideas are thoughtfully studied, implemented and sustained. In many companies, R&D departments play an integral role in the life cycle of a product. For us, a Jewish Day School, we believe the R&D Department plays an integral role in the lifecycle of teaching methodologies and student learning.

The Akiba R&D Department researches and develops approaches, practices, and systems that:

  • are driven by global trends
  • have a strong relevance to our school mission and core values
  • have potential to significantly transform teaching and learning
  • have sudden urgency or meet unexpected needs

The R&D Department focuses on five areas:

  • New programs or models research
  • New programs or models development
  • Existing programs or models updates
  • Quality checks on existing programs or models
  • General research on educational trends and innovations

The Akiba R&D Department utilizes a design thinking approach to innovation based on the work of Dr. Shabbai Luthra and Scott Hoffman and the research and development they did at the American School of Bombay. At the core of the work is a prototyping approach versus a piloting approach. A prototype is an early approximation of a final system or product and not a completed one. It will be tested within the school, further developed and further tested in the school and ultimately, if successful, implemented in the school ensuring it works for the specific needs of the school. Prototyping is also a more efficient driver of learning for our staff as they are not just given instructions on how to implement a pre-existing program. They study the new idea, try it out, learn what worked and what did not and retest it until it is either worth using or rejecting. They are involved and invested.

The R&D Department is supported by an R&D Leadership team made up of the Academic Administration and an R&D Task Force made up of a group of teachers who volunteered to be trained in and facilitate Research and Development at the school.

The 2017-18 R&D Task Force is made up of:

  • Thea Crook
  • Joe Esse
  • Cindy Friedman
  • Alise Gold
  • Debbie Lekousis
  • Michelle Rotfeld

We look forward to designing new ways of learning in our school, sharing what we learn with others and supporting the implementation of educational R&D departments in Jewish Day Schools around the globe.

The Akiba R&D Department was developed through a grant from the Jewish Education Innovation Challenge to develop the first and only Research and Development Department in a Jewish Day School.