Lody is executive director of Sela Public Charter School, the first Hebrew language charter school in the District -- and only the third of its kind in the nation. "Sela" means rock or foundation in Hebrew, and the school recently announced that it will set its own foundation in the Ward 4 neighborhood of Takoma when it opens in fall 2013.

A Hebrew-immersion program in the District -- you've received some funny looks, no?

There's really two ways to look at it, and the first is the academic benefits for the students: Any student coming to our school is going to be exposed to not only a second language -- or even third language, if they're an English-language learner -- but also a global educational approach. We really want to work on developing global citizenship and we think Hebrew is a great mechanism. Second, Sela adds an opportunity for families who seek high-performing public school options. There's a community benefit.

How do you ensure the separation of church and state?

There's really no challenge to that. The big thing is we're a language immersion school, and no one language is associated with a religion. There might be religions with roots in certain languages -- like Washington Latin Public Charter School is not affiliated with the Roman Catholic church. Hebrew is an ancient language that's actually in resurgence in the Middle East.

So now that you've found a facility in Takoma, what's next?

We're working on finalizing our scope and sequence, which is a fancy way of saying what our students learn and when. In addition, we're going to begin a very aggressive student recruitment process and staff recruitment process. We're currently looking for a principal and a director of curriculum and instruction, and those two school leaders will help drive the actual start up of the school.

-- Lisa Gartner