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.