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.