Sara Goldrath is a member of DeLeT Cohort 12 at HUC-JIR. She completed her internship in a 2nd grade classroom at Brandeis Hillel Day School in San Francisco, CA. Everyone has a different story about how they decided they wanted to be an educator, and sometimes, they don’t enter the profession in a way you might predict. Sara was a recently graduated theater major who was looking for a job, and found a position as an administrative assistant at a Jewish day school. She quickly realized how much she loved working in a day school setting. The school administrators noticed something about her, as well, and started giving her added responsibilities like substitute teaching, being a teacher’s assistant, and leading an improv class. After Sara had been at the school for two years, she even found herself managing their after-school program. Of all of the hats she wore at the school, Sara realized she was happiest in the classroom. She decided to formalize her teaching education—when she heard about DeLeT, she thought it was a perfect match for her. The more she learned about DeLeT, the more she realized her decision to apply was the right one. She loves the small cohort aspect, especially since her previous experience was with a large university in which she felt like just another face in the crowd. She also appreciates that this program allows her to be in the classroom with students for an entire year, as opposed to just part of the year that other programs offer. She has enjoyed having the opportunity to watch students’ journeys from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, and has seen how much they have grown and changed. And finally, she has been thrilled with the relationships she has built with her mentors—they have supported her throughout her work this year, and she feels very lucky for these connections. Sara noted that throughout the year, the administration, staff, parents, and students at her internship school, Brandeis Hillel Day School, treated her like a teacher, and not an intern. There are also other DeLeT alumni on staff at BHDS, so she was able to see what others were able to do with their careers post-DeLeT. DeLeT is structured in the following way: there are fellows placed at various schools throughout the greater San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco areas, and all of the fellows gather for classes twice each week. Sara was not anticipating the amount she would learn about school culture from this experience. Not only was she able to learn about BHDS through her inquiry-driven assignments, but she was able to learn about the other participating schools through the experiences of her colleagues. The apex of this was through the Kallot, where she had a chance to actually visit these schools, gaining a feel for their cultures herself. Sara is also very grateful for the distance learning aspect of DeLeT. Thanks to videoconferencing, she was able to stay in the bay area throughout the school year, only relocating to Los Angeles for the five-week summer semesters. At this moment, Sara’s career goal is to establish herself as an experienced day school classroom teacher, ideally in the younger grades. She plans to clear her CA Preliminary Credential, and maybe one day pursue a master’s degree. We know that her students will be lucky to have her as a teacher.
Rachel King is a member of DeLeT Cohort 12 at HUC-JIR. She is completing her internship in a 2nd grade classroom at San Diego Jewish Academy in San Diego, CA.
Rachel King comes from a family of educators—her mother works with educational technology, and her brother is an alumnus of the DeLeT program. Rachel has always wanted to become a teacher; she started working as a religious school madricha (teacher’s aid) after her Bat Mitzvah, and loved it. She was soon put in charge of her own classroom, became a summer camp counselor, and eventually ran a before-and-after-school childcare program. After she graduated college, she wanted to start working in formalized Jewish education, and given the positive experience her brother had in the program, she soon applied to DeLeT.
On DeLeT orientation day, Rachel found that an old friend of hers from summer camp had also been accepted into the program. This reminded her about why she loves being Jewish— the community comes together to become lifelong learners, to study Torah, to grow as individuals, and as Jews. Seeing a familiar face helped her feel instantly comfortable, and she started DeLeT having been reminded of the lasting connections that can be made through the field of Jewish education.
This year, Rachel’s mentor is Diane Shapp, 2nd grade and technology teacher at SDJA. They have a technology infused classroom, and Rachel has really thrived in that environment. She felt an instant connection with her mentor through online collaboration, and they have created some exciting opportunities for their students utilizing technology. Their students have connected with other students from over 25 different states and four different countries. They just finished their “Rock Our World” project, an interdisciplinary unit in which students compose music track by track in collaboration with students from around the country. Rachel’s students have been able to see how powerful collaboration can be, and how important it is to treat others with respect. Rachel feels that teaching this way is reflective of the Jewish values she holds dear.
Rachel feels that DeLeT has made her a more focused teacher who understands complex teaching dilemmas. For her capstone project, Rachel is delving into the dilemma of, given the time constraints teachers face, whether to teach for depth of understanding or for breadth of material. She is learning how to better hone in on what it is that she really wants her students to learn, and then teaching to those specific goals.
After completing most of her DeLeT coursework, Rachel believes that inquiry-based and project-based learning is something worth fighting for. It leads to authentic learning—it’s not cookie cutter education, and student creations can be as different as the students themselves. She provides a rubric to show students what her basic expectations are, and then watches their imaginations grow. Through these methods, a struggling student can proudly come to her saying: “Look at what I’ve accomplished.”
For the foreseeable future, Rachel plans to become a classroom teacher, and continue honing her craft. She envisions that she will eventually return to school for a Master’s degree, but she wants to have a few more years’ teaching experience before deciding on an area of focus. She views herself as someone who is always improving, and knows that she will not be happy unless she continues to look forward. We at DeLeT are very happy to have played a role in her educational journey, and are looking forward to her joining the field of day school education.
Final Quote of the Week :
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven”
Here are some words from our Education Director, Eileen Horowitz, addressing the members of Cohort 12. She acknowledges the work of all of the people who made this year possible.
Now is the season of gratitude and departure.
We give thanks to the myriad of people-power it takes to help each cohort go through their 13-month journey.
We thank our CEs: Aubrie, Bonnie, Michelle, Marilyn, Rosa, Sue and Sarah for their tireless commitment to help ensure a bright future for the students in our Jewish Day Schools. By giving so freely of their time, energy, and most importantly their expertise and wisdom, you have been gently guided along to where you are today. Thank you to your incredible mentors, who benefitted from having you as an intern almost as much as you benefitted from them! Thank you this year to Bonnie and Michelle for their guidance to each of us as we continue to learn what the new state requirements are for testing and student teaching and for helping us find a way to meet the needs of all.
Thank you to Caryn whose continued nurturing this year has helped you in numerous ways including your housing needs, your dietary needs and your need to have all pertinent information artfully spelled out in your DNA each week and in reminder emails.
A big thank you to Roxie, for finding the best and brightest instructors who taught you so much in their specialty areas! Lynn, Marc, Alan, Carolee, Kristi, Lori, Sarah, Larry, Sandy, Sue, Bonnie, Georgie, and Michelle, gave you all they knew to help you be educated and informed teachers. Special thanks to Rivka for taking theory and helping you put it into practice with her magical way of making her thinking visible. With these forces at your back, it is no wonder you are ready to take your place in our noble profession. You also have wonderful instructors waiting for you this summer; Shari, Sharroky, Marilyn, Shara, Sarah, and Tali, who are added to the list of consummate educators to make your journey worthwhile.
We welcomed Shara this year too, whose social media presence empowered each of you to begin a new way of collaborating with DeLeT colleagues from your own and past cohorts.
We also welcomed Sue, as our DeLeT assistant, enabling you to have another support person to help with various tasks at hand.
Most importantly we thank Michael for his initial vision to begin DeLeT, for he knew as we all know now, the power of a collaborative, reflective group of students, learning cutting edge pedagogy, using a shared language of educational terms infused with humanity and spirituality.
We will also greet our new Summer Team: Rabbinic Intern Jeremy Gimbel, and Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei, who will join the DeLeT team as Coordinator of Jewish Programming. They are both in for a great summer!
While we might feel as though we are moving through the desert, as our ancestors did so many millennium ago, we know we are not alone. We have a Kehillah, a community to support and protect us as we continue along our journey.
And of all the thank you’s, the biggest one is for all of you. Your individual and collective light shone brightly this year in everything you said and did. You made us proud on campus and at your site schools. You made us proud as we watched you support each other. You made us proud as you acknowledged each other’s successes and learned from each other. Mostly, we are proud of each of you for finding your “who-ness”, so that you can go forward next year inspired and confident to bring your gifts into the world to make it a better place.
May each of you be blessed as you manage the last few weeks at your site schools and make the transition to being here this summer, as a model and friend of cohort 13!
Shabbat Shalom and I look forward to seeing you all on June 16th!
Good Luck Ilana, we will miss you!
(Note from Caryn – None of us could have done our jobs so well without the support and encouragement of Eileen. All of us who work in this magnificent program send our thanks and appreciation to an amazing educator, Education Director, cheerleader and great optimist. We are proud to work with you every day!)
I loved teaching in Jewish day schools, so when DeLeT needed a Clinical Educator, I rejoiced in the opportunity to be in the classroom again. As a CE, I was to work not in one school or one grade level, but in several. I have always sought the stimulation and challenge of doing new things and DeLeT has abundantly met that need. It has fed my Jewish mind and expanded my Jewish soul.
I have several roles in the DeLeT world. In 2008 Michael Zeldin asked Bonnie Sharfman and me to see if it would be possible for HUC-JIR to offer fellows a California teaching credential along with their certificate in teaching from HUC-JIR. As a result of our work, HUC-JIR was named the first Jewish institution in California accredited by the State of California to offer the Preliminary Multiple-Subject Teaching Credential. So now, along with Bonnie, I serve as credential coordinator for DeLeT. I am an instructor, guiding fellows to develop strong strategies for teaching reading and writing. I am also the DeLeT alumni faculty liaison, working closely with the DAN, the DeLeT Alumni Network.
I play different roles in DeLeT, but the most rewarding has been my role as Clinical Educator. DeLeT has given me many gifts – the gift of challenging work and the gift of creating something new – but the best gift has been the gift of finding, coaching, and collaborating with so many gifted teachers-to-be. “My” fellows include Tamar Buchris, Jody Passanisi, Yechiel Hoffman, Danit Benito, Joel Abramovitz, Rachel Aleman, Devorah Servi, Amy Watenmaker, Libby Clearfield, Natalie Fisher, Orly Douek, Michelle Barton, Lauren Sadler, Shiri Surkin, Jenny Bennett, Micah Glass-Siegel, Audrey Kraus, and, this year, Yael Tzalka and Gilad Weisner. They form an illustrious list of Jewish education professionals! I am so proud of them and the many gifts that they are now giving to our children.
Shelly worked as an employment lawyer in a large Los Angeles law firm for almost 23 years. She and her husband sent their children to a Jewish day school, and she has served as a board member for that school for over 12 years. As a board member, Shelly attended a conference hosted by the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE) where she first heard about DeLeT. She realized that she had wanted to teach for a long time, and that DeLeT might offer her an opportunity to change career paths. When Shelly entered the program, she had quite an array of relevant experience; her work in law helped her be flexible and manage the workload of DeLeT, while her experience as a day school parent and board member helped give her a unique perspective.
Once Shelly decided that she wanted to become a teacher, DeLet was the only program that she seriously considered. She wanted to be placed at a Jewish day school, and she loved the idea of teaching and going to school at the same time. Also, Shelly really appreciated the Jewish studies aspects of the DeLeT curricula— fellows learn how to organize a parsha discussion, lead tefillah sessions, and infuse Jewish values into general studies.
Before DeLeT, Shelly knew that more went into teaching than met the eye, but she had not fully appreciated how many different roles a teacher plays at one time or how many decisions a teacher makes throughout the day. Now she has seen firsthand the many ways in which teachers not only teach academics, but also help students through social and emotional difficulties and work with parents and other colleagues to help each student succeed. The importance of this is often understated.
One course in DeLeT that really resonated with Shelly was the Day School and Society (DSS) class. It showed Shelly that each day school has its own culture and personality. Many observable features of schools are statements about the school’s values, from the way the classrooms are set up, to how they incorporate technology, to how they integrate general and Judaic studies, and so on.
One of Shelly’s favorite parts of DeLeT has been the Kallot, where the fellows gather at each other’s site schools to tour the schools, meet the administration, and learn about each individual school’s culture. The fellows are able to compare how different schools do things — e.g., how they commemorate the Holocaust, incorporate technology, and design their space for prayer. For Shelly, it was very interesting to see the differences and similarities among the day schools. While it gives her ideas of what to look for in a school at which she would consider teaching, it also helps her gather ideas about what features she could help bring to a school that it may not already have.
Ultimately, Shelly thinks that she would like to be a Head of School at a Jewish day school when the time is right. She feels very passionate about Jewish education and wants to help ensure that students in a Jewish day school receive a high caliber of education. Thanks to DeLeT, Shelly will have been able to see the issues that teachers deal with on a daily basis. DeLeT will give Shelly another framework for thinking about decisions—she will be able to think about the big picture and the individual teachers at the same time. We are very excited to watch Shelly’s career trajectory, and for the impact that we know she will have in the world of Jewish education.
When I began teaching at Gideon Hausner 19 years ago, I really didn’t know what to expect. I wondered if I would feel uncomfortable because I wasn’t Jewish. Instead, I found a community of dedicated educators who were warm and welcoming.
I was fortunate enough to work alongside experienced teachers who generously shared their time, their knowledge, and their passion with me. Over the years I gained a greater understanding and respect for Jewish values and realized how integral they were to everything we did. And I got to do all that in a school that embraced the Responsive Classroom model of teaching the whole student, academically and socially. It was a rich learning environment.
Participating in DeLeT this year has provided me with another opportunity to be involved in a rich learning environment. I’ve been able to connect with colleagues, collaborate with other DeLeT mentors, revisit the ideals of Responsive Classroom, and share some of what I have learned with a young and enthusiastic fellow. It’s an opportunity that has allowed me to reflect on my own teaching practices and helped me realize the enormous complexity of what we do.
Many years ago, when DeLeT was just beginning, Laura Lauder [DeLeT’s Founder], who was the parent of one of my students, approached me to ask if I would consider mentoring in the DeLeT program. I didn’t know what DeLeT was, and at that time I didn’t feel I could take on more than I was already doing. Somehow it seems fitting that in my last year of teaching I finally fulfill that request. And as it turns out, participating in the program has helped me continue to grow not only as an educator but also I hope as a person, encouraging me to be more sensitive and thoughtful. What a lovely and unexpected parting gift as I end my teaching career at Hausner.
This week we meet Kaylee Frager, 4th Grade Judaic Studies teacher at Ronald C. Wornick Jewish Day School in Foster City, CA
Working with the DeLeT Interns – talented young people who care deeply about becoming effective teachers – has given me an appreciation for fresh talent and potential. While I offer experience and expertise, my DeLeT Interns have introduced unique perspectives and fresh insights, giving me ways to rethink and redesign my teaching. Being a 40 year veteran teacher, this is challenging and exciting, certainly helpful in keeping methodologies fresh and current!
Reflecting with my Interns has helped me become more time efficient in the classroom and better focused on other aspects of my teaching that I might not notice on my own. In a word, having a DeLeT Intern has turned my classroom into an environment for mutual professional growth, where both my Intern and I share, discuss and critique, to help one another be our best selves.
Above all else, being a DeLeT mentor has brought meaningful and caring relationships into my life. These young professionals share my purpose and passion for teaching; serving as a DeLeT mentor has connected me to the future of education while giving me a sense of lasting purpose. My Interns are, and will continue to be, my colleagues and my very good friends.
Polly Specktor is a member of DeLeT Cohort 12 at HUC-JIR. She is completing her internship in 3rd grade at Brawerman Elementary School West in Los Angeles, CA.
Polly moved from Minnesota to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. She worked in the field for five years, but started to feel that her career was not fulfilling enough. She had always wanted to become a teacher, and observed a class taught by a DeLeT alum who told her about the program. Polly was very attracted to the idea of becoming a day school educator, and was excited to be accepted into the DeLeT program.
At the end of the first summer semester of DeLeT courses, the fellows write and teach a micro-lesson to their peers and faculty members. When Polly was
teaching, she was surprised at how natural she felt; it was validating to her, and reinforced that she had made the right decision. She had very little teaching experience before entering DeLeT, but now she feels at home in the classroom, as well as with the students. She is trying to take in everything the program has to offer, and believes in the core education philosophies of DeLeT. She feels herself grow as a teacher every day.
When DeLeT fellows are taught to write lessons, they are shown how to break a lesson into the basic elements of instruction. This approach has really resonated with Polly, and she tries to implement them into every lesson she leads. She finds that her lessons are much better because of this approach. She also makes sure to reflect after each lesson. She appreciates that in DeLeT the fellows are encouraged to take risks, just like they encourage their students to take risks. It’s how everyone learns.
Polly’s favorite course so far in the DeLeT program has been the Reading Language and Literature class. As a student she always loved reading, so learning how to successfully teach reading in the classroom was something that really interested her. Through this course, she has learned about Reading Workshop, a reading program in which each student reads a book at his/her particular level and of his/her choosing. The teacher then meets with the students individually or in small groups to go over reading strategies, and leads a mini-lesson about a relevant skill. Polly is hoping to implement some of these strategies in her own classroom because it helps inspire a love of reading for its own sake.
Polly is completing her internship at Brawerman Elementary School, and she feels like her placement was perfect. She loves working in such a supportive environment, and has had a wonderful year. There are also DeLeT alumni there who have been very supportive, and she has been able to go to them if she finds that she has questions about any aspect of the program. She has had the opportunity to get a lot of hands-on experience in the classroom, as Polly’s mentor has really given her the space to practice what she has learned. She appreciates the trusting relationship that they have developed.
Maybe in the future, Polly will consider pursuing a master’s degree, but for the next few years her main focus is being in the classroom with the students. She wants to focus on bringing what she has learned in the DeLeT program into her own classroom and putting it to use. As an intern, she has had the space to try techniques in her mentor’s classroom, but Polly acknowledges the difference between that and having her own classroom about which she can really feel a sense of ownership. Next year, she is excited to have accepted a lead teaching position at Brawerman, and is looking forward to continuing to learn, and continuing to grow.
Meghan Stein grew up in Irvine, CA, where she attended a community Jewish day school as a child. As she was completing her undergraduate work at the University of Kansas, she started researching teaching accreditation programs, and found out about DeLeT. The program seemed perfect for her, and she was thrilled when she was accepted.
According to Meghan, the most distinctive feature of DeLeT is the amount of support that each fellow receives. Other teaching programs she had considered had a “sink or swim” attitude, and it seemed like their participants had to deal with many first-year-teacher challenges on their own. In DeLeT, Meghan noted that there is a high level of communication among the fellows, mentors, and clinical educators, and a constant flow of honest feedback and support. Also, the program is designed so that the fellows teach when they are ready—they spend the first portion of the year watching their mentor teachers, learning a significant amount by careful observation and specific questions, and take the lead during classroom instruction only when they feel ready to do so. Meghan has found this to be specifically helpful as she works to shape her persona as a teacher.
Meghan was a day school student herself, so there were some aspects of her DeLeT year that she was able to properly predict. She knew how likely it was that the school she would work at would have a close-knit and family-like community. She also knew how involved and supportive her students’ parents could be, and how small the class-sizes might be. However, there were some things she had not anticipated. Like others who are in the DeLeT program this year, Meghan is surprised at the level of personal closeness and collegiality established among the members of Cohort 12. Also, she was not expecting how much she would benefit from the abundance of feedback she has received so far this year. She feels that every piece of the DeLeT program is geared at making her a better teacher.
Meghan has two phenomenal mentor teachers this year: Debbi Seligman for general studies, and Kaylee Frager for Judaic studies. Though their teaching styles are different, they are both quite effective. Since Debbi and Kaylee are both part of Wornick’s fourth grade team, Meghan has the opportunity to see how the dynamic among the same group of students can change depending on choices made by their teachers. She notes that while one class has a lot of structure and the other class is very free-flowing, students are engaged and successful in both settings. Meghan is looking forward to further developing her teaching voice and figuring out what dynamic she will have in her own future classroom.
As Meghan nears the end of her coursework in the DeLeT program and looks to the future, there are many tenets that she holds that she hopes to embody for the rest of her teaching career. She acknowledges the importance of receiving feedback from others and reflecting on her own teaching, and she hopes that she continues this practice, and does not fall into the common trap of falling into a teaching “routine.” Her goal is to be as willing to step out of her comfort zone and grow in five or ten years as she is now. She is very much looking forward to honing her teaching voice, and to staying true to her values.
This week we meet Rachel Klein, 2nd grade teacher at Brandeis Hillel Day School in San Francisco, CA
In 2002, my Head of Campus at Brandeis Hillel Day School in San Francisco, Chaim Heller, invited me to participate as a mentor with the first cohort of DeLeT interns. When I heard about the specific purpose of DeLeT – bringing well-trained teachers to work in Jewish day schools, I said “how visionary, sign me up!”
I was new to mentoring, but after a weeklong intensive summer training at HUC with Michael Zeldin, Luisa Latham and Jennifer Abrams leading the way, I was ready to take on my first intern. I was ready to “unpack” my teaching, integrate General and Jewish Studies and give effective feedback!
That first year of DeLeT and my first year of mentoring were packed with tremendous challenges and triumphs, headaches and accomplishments.
Since that first year, I have been privileged to serve DeLeT in a variety of capacities, classroom mentor, induction mentor, contributor to mentor training, clinical educator and mentor meeting facilitator. Working with my interns, Rachel Fishman, Esther Cohen Levy, Leah Ticker Hiller, Alexandra Braunstein Schroeder, Isaac Jacobs-Gomes, Brian Roth, Yael Cushman and Sara Goldrath, and my Hebrew and Jewish Studies teaching partner/mentor Orit Solomon, has been a highlight of both my professional and personal life.
It is apparent that DeLeT strives to provide a comprehensive experience for new teachers. The work that interns study is cutting edge and highly applicable to their lives in the classroom. With the integration of the Multiple Subject Credential, interns are more prepared than ever for the rigor of classroom teaching. Thanks to DeLeT, I have learned all about Understanding by Design, Responsive Classroom techniques, Ruth Charney, Elements of Instruction, Integrating General and Jewish Studies, unpacking my teaching, and much, much more, all to the benefit of me, my students and my interns.
What continues to strike me 11 years later are the people of DeLeT. The interactions I have had with every intern, mentor, staff member, faculty member, coordinator and administrator, lead me to believe that we share a common goal, bringing excellent teachers to Jewish day school classrooms. With this unifying goal, these special people give 110% and their hearts are in their work every day. I am privileged to be among these special people.
I would like to dedicate My Mentor Story to my first intern, Rachel Fishman, who passed away this year at the young age of 32. Her warm heart and strong work ethic were an inspiration to me during our year together and will be forever after.