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.
As a teacher of 12 years, I was beginning to feel a need for “more” and DeLeT was just the answer! I am so thankful
to my Head of School, Chaim Heller, for suggesting the program, and to DeLeT for collaborating with us at the San Diego Jewish Academy where I have been teaching for 7 years. Prior to coming to SDJA, I worked as a middle school science teacher in public schools as well as for Cal State San Marcos as a Teacher Supervisor for their teacher education program.
Being a Clinical Educator has opened my eyes to the art of teaching and learning once again. Every teacher should have the opportunity to join up with other educators, both new and experienced every 10 years (or more often) to reflect on where they have been and what they have learned since they began teaching. Reviewing the Elements of Effective Instruction, differentiation, and Understanding by Design through my work with my fellows has sparked my own desire to go back and make sure that I am still doing what I originally set out to do in my early days of teaching- inspire and motivate young minds to make the most of the science education they are offered. Working with the fellows and seeing their creativity, innovation and motivation in the classroom has reminded me of the power of good teaching, collaboration and feedback.
Elena Kohn is a member of DeLeT Cohort 12 at HUC-JIR. She is completing her internship in 3rd and 5th grade classrooms at Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School in Palo Alto, CA.
Elena grew up as a rabbi’s daughter in Redlands, CA. She participated in many different Jewish educational experiences as a child, ranging from religious school to summer camp, and even completed a semester of high school in Israel. When she was in college, she decided to minor in Jewish studies, and learn about her religion from an academic perspective. She was able to delve deeply into Jewish history and literature, learning new things about her own religion. She fell in love with how much Judaism has to offer, and how different interpretations are celebrated.
Through college, she had been teaching religious school, and also doing a lot of work with at-risk youth; she found that she loved working with children. When she heard about DeLeT and learned that she could combine teaching with Jewish life, she was very excited. She had worked in informal education, but had felt drawn to formal education. She was also looking forward to being a part of students’ everyday lives, instead of only seeing them on Sundays. When she was accepted into DeLeT, she was thrilled.
Elena came to a few unexpected findings once she started the DeLeT program. First, she did not realize the amount of work, organization, and planning went into teaching. There should be thought and consideration put into every teaching choice, and that can be overwhelming at times. Also, she was not expecting how much she was going to end up relying on the relationships she built with the cohort, as well as the DeLeT faculty. Elena finds that she is someone who, in the past, did not open herself up to new relationships very easily, but she has found that having the support network of her cohort and faculty members have been crucial to her this year.
Elena’s general studies mentor, Rose Nolen, has been teaching at Hausner for 19 years and is retiring at the end of this year. Though she knew this was going to be her last year in the classroom, Rose opted to be a first-time mentor in the DeLeT program. She said that it’s valuable to have someone in the room with a fresh set of eyes, and has shown Elena that teaching is an ever-evolving craft. Elena has also seen the benefits of collaboration; Rose, Elena, and their co-teacher have developed a collaborative partnership that helps the third grade team run like clockwork.
Ora Gittelson-David is Elena’s Judaic studies mentor in a fifth grade classroom. Ora was a DeLeT fellow herself, from Cohort 2 at HUC-JIR. Elena gets to see much of DeLeT’s philosophy in action in Ora’s classroom. She uses Responsive Classroom, an approach to education and classroom management that is taught in DeLeT, and even uses modified versions of curricula that she wrote while she was a DeLeT fellow. Ora is primarily a middle school teacher, and treats the fifth graders accordingly— she holds the students accountable for their own learning, and often talks about making responsible choices. Elena feels that she is really benefitting from being an intern with these two different age groups, and having the opportunity to learn from these two wonderful mentors.
When she looks toward the future, Elena sees herself as a teacher who values learning that is active on the part of both the student and the teacher. She thinks that teaching should be a collaborative effort; teachers should work both among themselves and with their students to create curricula. She also places a high value on reflection, and believes that students and teachers should reflect regularly on their work to ensure that they continue to progress. Elena is looking forward to continuing the mentoring process through HUC’s induction program in the coming years, and is excited to be able to further develop her teaching persona in her own classroom.