The Sulam@JDS program is an inclusive educational model where students with learning differences receive the highly specialized support they need while attending a rigorous, pluralistic independent Jewish day school. 

Both CESJDS and Sulam bring a commitment to excellence and a track record of success in the fields of education and special education. Sulam has proven expertise in inclusion within a Jewish day school setting. CESJDS is known for its strong academic and co-curricular program, as well as its commitment to Jewish values, learning, and Israel.

Educational Approach

Sulam@JDS is grounded in the belief that everyone benefits from an inclusive classroom and school environment. 

The program is centered around the educational framework of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). UDL is an approach to teaching and learning that provides all students equal opportunity to succeed. Teachers proactively embed multiple options into the curriculum so that students with diverse learning profiles access both the support and level of challenge they need. Sulam and CESJDS have been training Lower School teachers at CESJDS in UDL for the past three years.

Sulam@JDS emphasizes the interconnectedness of cognitive, social, emotional, and Jewish spiritual learning. Teachers approach students holistically and integrate strategies into the classroom that allow students to feel safe, secure, and motivated.

Program Participants

The 2022/23 cohort includes six students in grades 1, 2, and 4.

The Sulam@JDS program serves:

  • Students with documented mild to moderate disabilities that impact their educational functioning throughout the school day. Examples of diagnoses include:
    • Specific Learning Disabilities
    • ADHD
    • Twice Exceptional (Gifted and Talented, Learning Disabled - GTLD)
    • Anxiety
    • Social Skills Deficits
    • Language Delay
    • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Students who will respond to adult direction and accept support within the dynamics of a general education setting. This determination will be made by our team of special education professionals through the admissions process.
  • Students in grades 1-4. 

Additional Support to CESJDS Education Support Services (ESS)

The CESJDS Educational Support Services (ESS)  program offers robust support to students. Sulam@JDS will offer a level of intervention and support beyond what is currently provided to students enrolled at CESJDS.

In addition to ESS services, Sulam@JDS students will benefit from:

  • A smaller adult to child ratio
  • Additional opportunities for targeted academic intervention
  • More individualized support in the general education classroom including modifications to curriculum and materials, where appropriate
  • Ongoing skill building in the areas of social and emotional development
  • Personalized case management that includes frequent communication between school, home, and outside service providers

A Sulam@JDS student requires a level of support that exceeds what ESS provides. The student experiences barriers to success across the school day, which necessitates a higher frequency and intensity of intervention services. The determination whether a student requires ESS or Sulam support will be made by the Admissions team.

Sulam@JDS Faculty and Staff

DJ Kaplan, Director of Sulam@JDS

DJ holds a Master’s degree in General and Special Education from Hunter College. He has previously served as a homeroom teacher for students with diverse learning needs in a variety of classroom settings. He is passionate about helping students of all abilities grow their love for learning while using multisensory programs to differentiate learning across all subject areas. In addition to the classroom, DJ has experience from the world of informal education in both camp and youth group settings.


Debra Drang, Sulam Director of Special Education

Currently in her 24th year in education, she holds a Ph.D. in Special Education from University of Maryland. She has served in a variety of capacities including classroom teacher, itinerant teacher, mentor, teacher trainer/coach, and researcher.  Debra has a strong record of applying current, research-based best practices to everyday classroom life.  Her areas of expertise include inclusion, universal curriculum design, tiered instruction/intervention, classroom management, and progress monitoring. Debra is a foodie and loves to read. 

Lenore Layman, CESJDS Director of Educational Support Services

Lenore Layman has been working at CESJDS for 14 years as the Director of Educational Support Services. Prior to working at CESJDS, Lenore was the Director of the Special Needs and Disability Services Department at the Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning. Lenore has also worked as a teacher in the SINAI program in NJ and as an educational therapist for the Institute for Learning and Development in MA. She was a cofounder of Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month. Lenore has a BA in Special Education from Brooklyn College and an MA as a Special Education Learning Consultant from NYU.

Laura Hardy, Social Worker/Social Emotional Learning Specialist

Laura Hardy has 20 years of experience working in schools, 14 of which have been as the Middle and Upper School Social Emotional Support Specialist for Sulam. At Sulam, Ms. Hardy worked individually with students, guided teachers in behavioral management, and served on the leadership team. Ms. Hardy earned her Masters in Social work from University of Pennsylvania and loves sports, especially skiing and sailing with her family. She lives in DC with her husband Kevin and their 3 daughters.

Emily Lascari, Speech-Language Pathologist, Sulam@JDS

Emily Lascari is an ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologist who is licensed in Maryland with 15 years experience in schools and private practice. Emily received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from William Paterson University and her Master of Arts degree in Speech-Language Pathology from University of Maryland. Over the course of her career, Emily has worked in both the private and public school setting. As a private practitioner, she has supported the JDS students and community for nearly 10 years. Emily specializes in receptive and expressive language, pragmatic language and social skills, language processing, executive functioning, and written language. She strongly believes in a collaborative approach and relies on the support and expertise of the school, families, and therapists in order to maximize progress. Emily is grateful to her husband and two little girls, as they are her greatest teachers.

Rebekah Jacobs, Reading Specialist, Sulam@JDS

Rebekah Jacobs brings 20 years of experience as a secondary school English instructor, K-12 reading specialist, curriculum planner and instructional leader at schools. In addition, she builds the capacity of new and veteran ELA teachers through curriculum support, instructional coaching, and professional development. Rebekah started her career as a Teach For American instructor in Los Angeles and has taught throughout the US. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from University of Texas, a Master of Education in Language and Literacy/Reading Specialist degree from Harvard University, and a Masters in Secondary Education from Loyola Marymount. 

Samantha Haas, Instructional Assistant, Sulam@JDS

Samantha Haas received her B.S. in Human Services (with a concentration in Early Childhood Development and a minor in Disability Studies)  and her M.A. in Early Childhood Development and Programming from the University of Delaware in 2021. Samantha has a strong background in inclusive education. She was a teacher at Early Head Start in 2021-22 in Wilmington, DE, and she taught Hebrew School in Wilmington from 2019 to 2022. She was also a Jewish Inclusion Fellow at Respectability, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that advocates for people with disabilities, in 2021.  Samantha has worked at numerous camps in Montgomery County – most recently at Camp JCC in Rockville, MD, where she has served as an Inclusion Counselor, Senior Counselor, and Unit Head since 2018. She also created Camp Culver, a pod camp for children, during the summer of 2020 when COVID-19 forced the cancellation of many traditional camps in Montgomery County. After her experiences working in inclusive environments in schools, at camps, and in the nonprofit sector, Samantha is ready to motivate and assist children in a classroom setting. Outside of the classroom, she enjoys traveling and spending time with friends and family.

Cost and Tuition Assistance

In order to provide our students with the tailored education they deserve, there is a $15,450 fee in addition to CESJDS tuition. Tuition in Sulam@JDS is supported through philanthropic investment that helps offset the true cost of the program.

Applicants are welcome to apply for CESJDS tuition assistance. However, assistance will not cover the additional cost of Sulam@JDS.

For more information please contact Dorie Ravick, CESJDS Director of Lower School Admission, at

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Sulam@JDS Updates

We are grateful for a substantial anchor gift from The Mayberg Foundation, and significant support from the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Washington, The Kahan Family Foundation, two anonymous donors, The Isadore and Bertha Gudelsky Foundation, Mark Levitt & Kay Klass, Annette Bicher & Ken Nechin, Galena-Yorktown Foundation, David & Tamar Volosov, Susan & Brad Stillman, Jack & Carol Feder, and Fran Katz Watson & Robert Watson for their vision and support to help make this pilot program a reality and for making CESJDS a more inclusive learning environment.

For more information about investing in Sulam@JDS, please contact Sharon Metro.