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The Counseling Corner

September 2011

The Samuel Scheck Hillel Community Day School The Ben Lipson Hillel Community High School The Juda and Maria Diener Elementary School The Henrietta Scheck Middle School

Welcome students and parents! We are excited to present the first issue of our newsletter. The College Counseling Office, your Guidance Office and your Dean of Students will share the latest news, deadlines and other important information that will be helpful to you as you prepare for college. We welcome comments and suggestions as we continue to deliver to you the highest level of Hillel service.

From the College Counseling Office Welcome

Hillel has a proactive College Guidance Program that begins in Grade 9 and spirals with intensity through Grade 12. Hillel understands that students and families approach the college application process with diverse needs and styles and, thus, highly values and practices a student-centered philosophy during this crucial transition. We are strong student advocates, both within Hillel and through our relationships with colleges, and we are committed to helping students find the school that best matches their needs, interests and abilities. Therefore, all Upper School students and parents are encouraged to schedule meetings with college counselors in the Guidance office or by calling 305-931-2831 x 108.

When Will We Meet You? In an effort to enhance the one-on-one communication Juniors will meet in the spring as part of the between the student body, parents and our office, we have set a schedule of personalized meetings for each of the high school classes.

Freshmen will meet with their college counselor during the ninth grade conferences in November.

Sophomores will meet with their college counselor during their spring conferences.

new college readiness curriculum.

Seniors will meet (if not yet met) immediately upon return to school.

Please call our office to set up an appointment at 305-931-2831 x 108 or email us if you have specific questions or would like to meet outside of the arranged conferences.

About the Counselors

Vanessa Donaher - Vanessa Donaher begins her career at Hillel as the Director of College Counseling. The breadth and depth of Mrs. Donaher’s experience in this sometimes arduous field are vast, from the private sector side to the college admission side and to the world that lies between. Prior to joining Hillel, Mrs. Donaher ran a prominent private college counseling practice that she founded nearly 10 years ago.

She, along with her team of other counselors, worked with more than 500 private and public school students to assist in navigating them through the college admissions process. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, a Juris Doctorate from Hofstra University and is currently working on her Ph.D. An active contributor

to many professional organizations, Mrs. Donaher has been a member of several national committees and works closely with college admission directors throughout the country.

Dana Ponsky is beginning her third year as a college counselor at Hillel. Prior to joining the College Counseling Department, Ms. Ponsky was the Director of First-year and Leadership programs at Barry University and the Assistant Director of Orientation & Commuter Affairs at the University of Miami. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies from the University of Maryland, a Master of Arts degree

in College Student Personnel from BowlingGreen State University, and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Enrollment Management from the University of Miami. Her training and expertise involve the transitional issues affecting first-year college students and how to best prepare high school students and their families for the collegiate experience. Prior to her work in college counseling and orientation, Ms. Ponsky was a career counselor

at the University of Michigan. She has been affiliated with 7 national and international universities and has visited more than 60 campuses in her 10 year career. She is an active member of many national and regional professional organizations and volunteers her time with College Summit, to help under-resourced high school students in Miami attain their dreams of higher education.

Dana Ponsky -

Info for Students

There are numerous resources for students to help with the college application process. The College Counseling office provides print and electronic resources both in our office and online to help students with identifying colleges and gap-year programs that will best meet needs and help attain goals. The websites listed on our Resources for Students page are just some of the many helpful tools out there to assist students and parents.

Contact Us

Vanessa Donaher – Director of College Counseling - Dana Ponsky – College Counselor - Rita Jacobson – Registrar - Location – Guidance Office Phone # - 305-931-2831 ext 108 Website –

Upcoming Programs for Juniors and Seniors

In an effort to keep you current on the most recent additions and changes to the college admissions process, you are strongly encouraged to attend these most important meetings. Nuts and Bolts for Seniors - Mandatory meeting for all seniors and parents to prepare for the upcoming application season Tuesday, August 30 @ 7pm Countdown to College for Grades 9-11 – Discssion with 9th - 11th grade parents/family members to meet the college counselors and learn about the innovative programming being offered to students to prepare them for the college admission process Wednesday, September 14 @ 7pm Athlete Meeting for Juniors and Seniors – Mandatory for all potential collegiate athletes and parents. Athletic, academic, & NCAA requirements will be discussed Wednesday, October 5 @ 7pm Financial Aid Meeting for Seniors – In-depth discussion about all financial aid options for students including state, federal, and private aid. Presented by a university financial aid director Monday, October 10 @ 7pm Miami Invitational College Fair - For Juniors Only! One of country’s largest college fairs, specifically for students at Hillel and 7 other private schools that are members of College Consortium. More than 225 colleges/universities will be in attendance Sunday,October 16 @ TBD Test SAT


Test Date Registration Date Late Fee Required October 2

September 9

September 10-21

November 6

October 7

October 8-21

September 11

August 12

August 13-26

October 23

September 16

September 17-30

October 7


PSAT October 26


College Essay Writing

With the ever-increasing competition for seats at colleges and universities, the essay is often a crucial decision-making factor in the admissions process. However, sometimes the hardest part of writing a college admissions essay is just getting started. Here’s a quick exercise to get pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). Step 1: Think about yourself What are your strengths and limitations? What are your best qualities? An intellectual? A creative type? Curious? Passionate? Determined? Step 2: Choose a positive quality you’d like to convey to the admissions committee. Don’t pick an event or something you’ve done. President of the Nuclear Awareness Club is not a personal quality. Focus on a quality of your mind or of your character. Complete this sentence: “I am a very _________ person.” Step 3: Tell a story Set a timer for 20 minutes. Pretend you’re taking an exam and responding to, “Tell a story about an experience or time when you showed you were a very _________ person.” Use the characteristic you identified in Step 2. Write or type non-stop for 20 minutes; force yourself to keep telling the story and what it reveals until the timer goes off.

From The Dean of Students Dear Hillel parents, It is an honor and privilege to join you as Hillel’s Dean of Students and work at your renowned school. Let me briefly tell you about myself. I am a licensed clinical social worker and have been a child and adolescent therapist, as well as the social work supervisor, at one of Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s outpatient clinics in the Bronx. I hold a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and a Master’s degree in social work from Yeshiva University. I am currently completing my doctorate in social work through Yeshiva University as well. I decided to work in a school setting because my experience in communicating with clients, parents and teachers demonstrated the power of schools to impact youth. The skills that I had learned and taught in the clinic could be implemented with additional efficacy within the school setting. One aspect of my job is discipline. Discipline should not be punitive, rather only corrective. We levy negative consequences to help our children return to a positive mode of action, not to hurt them in any way. The most effective form of discipline is to focus on the positive actions that students exhibit and devise methods by which to increase that positive behavior. The key to helping children return to positive modes of action is to reach for their strengths and help them utilize those strengths to increase positive actions. I will uphold and enforce positive and negative consequences with the tenacity needed to protect and guide our students. Nevertheless, the focus of my work in school will be to work to the ultimate goals of the school: Creating Menches and Nachas. How are we going to get there? By focusing on cultivating the five core Jewish values: Chesed (Kindness), Emet (Truth), Shalom (Peace), Kavod (Respect) and Ruach (Spirit). This year, my focus will be on chesed, kindness. Together with the work and expertise of a variety of staff members the support of administration and teachers and the ongoing intervention of expert consultants, we will cultivate in our students the traits of kindness, compassion and the inability to stand idly by in the presence of injustice. Parents are an integral part of this process, and I am committed to ongoing communication with our incredibly dedicated parent population. Parents are welcome to contact me individually and to attend regular presentations that will keep you abreast of what goes on in school and of the broader issues our youth face in our modern world. I am truly excited to begin this school year and look forward to the success that we will all experience together.

______________________ Yehuda Kranzler, LCSW Dean of Students

Counseling Corner Sept 2011  
Counseling Corner Sept 2011  

College Counseling and Guidance Newsletter