The History of Ezra Academy
Ezra Academy first opened in 1966 as the Schechter Academy of New Haven under the auspices of the Conservative Jewish rabbis and laity of New Haven, Connecticut. Just eleven students were enrolled, with three teachers on staff. It was housed at Congregation Beth El on Harrison Street in New Haven, before moving to Congregation B’nai Jacob in 1969 and being renamed Ezra Academy. The school was founded with the goals of offering “an integrated [Secular and Judaic] educational program utilizing the most effective recent techniques,” and to “teach their children the Jewish traditions in a way which was positive, creative, and fully integrated with the wider cultural life of our world.”
By 1971, Ezra had become the first Jewish day school in the country to implement an open classroom curriculum, and graduated its first class of five students from the sixth grade. Ezra Academy reinstated scheduled classes and added a structured art program in 1973.
A middle school was first established in 1977 when Ezra added its first seventh grade class. Its first class of five students were graduated from the eighth grade the following year.
In 1981, Ezra Academy became a regional Schechter school for the Southern Connecticut area, and students from Bridgeport, Trumbull, and Fairfield began attending classes. At the
1984 Annual Convention of United Synagogue of America, Ezra was cited for excellence in secular and Judaic studies amongst Solomon Schechter Day Schools.
In response to the dramatic increase in enrollment, the construction of Ezra Academy’s new multi-purpose facility was announced, adding an 11,000 square foot addition including a gym/lunchroom, science lab, music room, and additional classrooms. Students and teachers moved into the spacious new facility in 1989.
In 1999, Ezra Academy received recognition from the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools for its “dedication to academic excellence through an integrated approach of secular and Judaic studies within a nurturing environment.”
Today, Ezra Academy has a student body of 85 students from over 20 towns throughout the Southern Connecticut area, with a faculty and staff of 30.
Ezra continues to emphasize a STEM-focused education, making use of modern tools like iPads, Smartboards, and laptops in the classroom.