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Alumni Focus – Hayley DeLugach

Hayley (Cohort 5) taught at the Saligman Middle School outside Philadelphia and is beginning her sixth year teaching high school at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay in San Francisco. She is looking forward to living in her own house in Pacifica with her ‘bashert,’ Rabbi Mark Melamut, and her curly-headed children Kinneret (5½) and Geffen (3½).

As I write this, I have just made the biggest purchases of my life – a new home and a new car! Living in San Francisco, one relishes not just the occasional sunshine coming out of the fog, great restaurants and liberal politics, but having a place, and ideally a place with space. We are very fortunate to have found that and are in the midst of picking paint colors and room arrangements. It’s an overwhelming experience as there are literally hundreds of possible colors. Should one take risks and go bold with color or stay safe and neutral? The internet video on color choices emphasized two ideas that stuck with me: 1. there are no rules, and 2. pick colors that show your personality (it even suggested using your closet for inspiration). This process of choosing colors feels much like the process I go through when thinking about setting up my courses for the year.

I am also fortunate to be beginning my eighth year of teaching, my sixth at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay in San Francisco (JCHSB). I will continue teaching and refining my freshman Tanakh I (at-level and intermediate) and my sophomore Tanakh II Intermediate, in addition to coordinating the logistics of our tefilah program, and the various other responsibilities of a full-time teacher. Even though I have taught the same courses for the last few years, every year there are new innovations – whether it was creating the 9th-grade intermediate level, integrating the Havruta Research Project into my teaching, or revamping a unit to collaborate with another teacher – and it’s always important for me to keep freshness in my classes. When I forget this, and try to rest on the laurels of, “Oh, I’ve taught this unit before,” I get into the most trouble.

So this summer as I change addresses for everything known to man, I’m also taking an online course on using technology in Jewish education through Gratz College. In addition to gaining familiarity with some new techniques, the course has refocused my thinking about setting up my classes this year.

Understanding how the world is changing helps me to understand my students better. I’m more aware of how differently my students see the world than I did as a teen, and this impacts how they think about and relate to Judaism. I’m excited to include more collaboration and “customization” opportunities into my teaching so students are able to make meaning that is relevant to them. I signed up for the course in order to practice using some new technological tools, but it has given me a whole new perspective on my role as the teacher and how I can configure the learning environment of my class!

Being a veteran teacher gives me the time and space to revisit why I love teaching and how I can grow to be more effective in the classroom. JCHSB is also a place that values innovation and risk taking as well as professional development. As a result I feel comfortable trying out new ideas and seeing what works and what doesn’t. I view myself as a role model for my students and a major part of that is for me to keep learning and growing right along with them. As we all begin a new year of learning with our students, I invite you to rethink and redecorate your classes this fall and don’t be afraid to go bold in a way that feels exciting and fitting for you!

L’Shanah Tovah, and may 5774 be a year of creativity and success for us all!