Aaron Renert, the cofounder and principal of Renert School, believes what makes the school unique is its approach to education. “We group children based on ability, not age, and allow them to progress at their own pace and to go as far as they can,” says Renert, who founded the school with his brother, Dr. Moshe Renert, who holds a PhD in mathematics education, and is also a computer scientist and a musician.
“My brother is an accordionist, and other than strings, he can play pretty much any instrument,” says Aaron, who credits Moshe with, among other things, establishing Re
nert School’s strong musical theatre, drama and arts programs.
For his part, Aaron
holds a bachelor of science degree in pure mathematics and statistics, a master’s degree in statistics, a law degree and a bachelor of education degree — all from the University of Calgary. Born in Israel, Aaron Renert came to Canada at the age of 22, and has th
ree children. Jonathan, 16, Danielle, 13, and Neomi, 7. When he was in Grade 5, Jonathan became the youngest Albertan to write the Grade 12 math diploma exam, achieving a score of 96 per cent, and immediately enrolling to take university-level math courses.
“One of the reasons we opened the school was to show that there is nothing unique about my son. Give children proper coaching and let them run: this is the recipe. This is what we do at the school every day,” Aaron says.
Q. How would your best friend describe you?
A. Very honest and direct. Totally committed to people and causes. Extremely caring about children and their well-being. Big heart.
Q. What would your students be surprised to learn you like to do on a day off?
A. I enjoy yoga, competing with my wife in solving suicide Sudokus, playing backgammon with Neomi, my daughter, and reading as much as I can.
Q. What three things could you not live without?
A. My wife Hagar; the freedom to create and to pursue my passions; and (the ability) to explore and to grow intellectually.
Q. What was your first job?
A. I was 14 years old. I started tutoring grade 4-5 kids, teaching them mathematics.
Q. Who was the most influential teacher you have worked with?
A. Hands-down, Vladimir Radzidilovski, who was a professor of mathematics in Russia and now lives in Israel. He has coached countless kids to become some of Israel’s top students of mathematics. He is the most brilliant mathematics educator I have ever met. He made me realize that 10-year-olds can write Grade 12 diploma examinations eight years ahead of schedule, and seven-year-olds can grasp exponential and logarithmic proofs intuitively. The key is not to make any assumptions about what children are capable of.
Q. Did you ever consider (or have) any other careers?
A. I had a few other careers: being in the military, working as a lawyer, a university instructor in the Haskayne School of Business’ Executive MBA program, an expert witness, day-trader, and entrepreneur. In the big picture, nothing beats education and working with children and youth.
Q. What is the biggest challenge you face at school this year?
A. We are going through rapid expansion, building a five-storey building for September 2018, and preparing to open a preschool for ages three to five. The new building will be twice the size of the existing one. It is the challenge of growing organically and responsibly.
Q. What does your school have bragging rights to?
A. Having created an environment that is safe, caring and joyous, and yet having incredibly high academic standards. Renert School is one of Alberta’s Top 10 academic schools, according to the Fraser Institute report and Eight Leaves, and is the first high school ever to be selected for NASA’s HASP (High Altitude Student Platform) program.