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August 15, 2003 - Image 69

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-08-15

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Samantha Erin
Rosen Nursery

Congregation Beth Ahm
5075 West Maple Road
West Bloomfield, MI



•Offering individualized programs in a warm and welcoming setting

perseverance to stick with it?
"Ninety-five percent of the students
who attend this school will never be
able to read. But for the overwhelming
majority, we'll see the number of chil-
dren diagnosed as learning disabled
Elyakin said that his ideas are not
new Educational philosophers have
been haranguing the establishment on
many of these issues for at least one
generation, if not two.
"Of course, these things have been dis-
cussed for 30 years, for 40 years," he said,
"but that doesn't mean you give up.


Building Ties

Born in Brooklyn, Elyakin
was trained as an architect.
It took four years of hanging
out with his sister, a special
educator in Israel, to change
his career plans.
"When I went there in
1976, she taught me about
the joy of teaching," he said.
"When I got back to the
United States in 1980, I
didn't want to be an archi-
tect any more."
While In Israel, he met
his wife, a nurse from Birmingham,
Mich. Margaret Elyakin is always known
as "Bunky," her husband said. "Nobody
calls her by her real name."
The couple spent another year in
Israel in 1984, where Elyakin began his
teaching career in Kiryat Yam, near
Haifa. Back in Michigan, he earned a
master's degree in special education from
Eastern Michigan University and special
education director's certificate from
Grand Valley State University.
Hired as a teacher by the Washtenaw
ISD, he was promoted to supervisor five
years ago.
"If nothing else, a supervisor or a prin-
cipal leaves as a legacy the people they
hire," he said.
"An administrator must hire and
maintain the best-qualified teachers, give
them high-quality support services and
demand that these high-quality people
use the best practices to teach all chil-

Elyakin and his wife have two chil-
dren, Shira, 10, and Natan, 3. Both
parents are highly involved in their
education, both secular and Jewish.
"When we moved here in 1985, we
were involved in Hillel at the
University of Michigan," Elyakin said.
"We joined the Conservative syna-
gogue, Beth Israel."
From there, Elyakin's involvement
snowballed. He began with the commu-
nity relations committee of the Jewish
Federation of Washtenaw County and
soon became chair of the annual cam-
paign. Last April, he chaired the organi-
zation's mission to Israel.
He is on the board of the Friends of
the Israel Defense
c_o Forces, American Jewish
• Committee and Seeds of
Peace and occasionally
serves as a consultant for
the Hebrew Day School
of Ann Arbor. Most
recently, he was elected
vice president of the
Michigan Jewish
Conference, the
statewide organization
that serves the.political
and community rela-
tions needs of
Michigan's Jewish community.
"Part of my teaching my kids Torah is
by example," Elyakin said, referring to
his daughter and son. "When my
daughter was a baby, she used to go to
meetings with me. After a while, she'd
cud up and go to sleep.
"It is important to show our children
that being Jewish is not just for Friday
Elyakin said his co-workers at the
Washtenaw ISD look on him as a
resource for Judaism.
"I live a Jewish life. Though not a
`religious' man, I'm a friend of Rabbi
Aharon Goldstein [of Ann Arbor
Chabad]. I go to lunch at his house —
he's not there to 'convert' me — but
because he's my friend.
"It's all part of showing my kids that
diversity is who we are. We participate
in many diverse communities. It
enhances and enriches our lives as
Jews.'' E'

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