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May, 2011

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The Jim Joseph Foundation

Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project  

Newsletter May 2011/ Iyar 5771  

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Dear Hevre,


It is hard to believe that yet another school year is coming to an end. As you will see below PEP is graduating its tenth cohort, bringing the number of graduates to 114. For those of you who were in the first cohorts, it is probably mindboggling to think about those numbers, and the subsequent impact our graduates have made on the world of Jewish education. The graduation will also celebrate PEP's tenth anniversary. If you will be in Israel, please join us for the ceremony. (See PEP News for the invitation). 


While you head off for summer vacation, know that we will continue to offer support throughout the summer. We are happily awaiting the arrival of 20 of our own alumni, along with five fellows, for the summer curriculum workshop, July 19-August 2. We have a great team in place and have revised our schedule based upon input from last summer.


Chag Sameach,2011 shavuot


Susan, Amanda, Debra

Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project staff:
Dr. Susan Wall, Amanda Pogany, M.A.,
Debra Weiner-Solomont, MSW 

The Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project is funded by a generous grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation.


Dvar Torah - Aron Wolgel (Cohort 8)   

Aron has been teaching at the Frankel Jewish Academy of Metropolitan Detroit since September, 2009.      
Aron wolgel

With the school year drawing to a close, aside from trying to squeeze in the last few lesson plans and fighting to maintain class decorum (no, you can't have senioritis as a freshman!) while attempting to preserve a modicum of organization before the freedom of summer, I find myself becoming more reflective about the year, its successes, the mistakes I'm glad no one saw (yet I spoke about to almost everybody) and fond memories of my growth and development as an educator.

In contrast, many of my students approach this time with trepidation and an overwhelming sense of exhaustion. They eventually muster up the courage to ask the question to which they all know and dread the answer: is the final going to be cumulative?

Having explained multiple times that the entire year builds on previous learning and having stressed the importance of connecting the themes that are repeated throughout the course, the natural format of assessment is indeed a cumulative final.

At the same time, this idea is reinforced by the Jewish calendar. Rabbi Sholom Noach Berezovsky in Netivot Shalom observes many similarities between Shavuot and Shemini Atzeret, most notably that each holiday is the culmination of a given set of experiences.

Sharing the name atzeret (the Biblical name for Shavuot), these holidays are the essence of stopping in order to enjoy a moment of celebration with God. Moreover, the observance of these holidays is so pure that there are virtually no mitzvot of commission (mitzvot aseh) associated with the day.

Additionally, each holiday marks the conclusion of a fifty day period. For Shavuot, we count the omer beginning at Pesach, with each day moving us one step closer to receiving the Torah. Similarly, receiving the rain on Shemini Atzeret closes the reflective period which began with Rosh Hodesh Elul. For both days, notable events and symbols (teshuva, shofar, lulav, lag b'omer, etc.) all serve as preparation for the atzeret.

Likewise, all year long, quizzes, worksheets, projects, tests, and informal assessments help us prepare for the final. As the age-old dictum indicates, if the students have done well all year long, they are generally well prepared for the final exam.

By the same token, R. Noam Elimelech relates this idea to a Torah scroll, asserting that the most holiness exists in the white space in between the letters. While each letter by itself contains individual kedusha, the parchment surrounding the letters carries a sense of all-inclusive sanctity since it contains all the letters. By extension, though each individual assessment grants credit for a small block of information, a cumulative assessment allows an interplay between seemingly disparate ideas (after all, they were different units).

Through assessment we become familiar with our students on a deeper level. Furthermore, if constructed carefully, assessments allow students to explore themselves in a way that helps the teacher and student bond in one of life's holiest exchanges. Thus, I respond to my students, "Yes, the final is cumulative," and immediately follow it with, "Thanks for a great entire year." Then I rest assured that as soon as the final word is written, there will be much celebration and rejoicing by my students after this culmination as well. Chag Sameach.

 Alumni Retreat March 22-26,  2012     


Plans are well underway for the alumni retreat, March 22-26, 2012, at the Pearlstone Retreat Center outside of Baltimore. While the main focus will be on day schools, our 2012 retreat will be open to all of our graduates (in good standing) and will include some sessions that will be useful to people in other areas of Jewish education. Our novice teachers will attend Thursday, March 22 through Sunday, March 25. Our more veteran alumni will arrive before Shabbat and remain through Monday mid-day. This will allow us to have a shared Shabbat experience with plenty of time for community building, as well as sessions that meet the needs of the different groups. 


As the school year comes to a close, please make sure to let your administration know of the dates of the retreat to ensure your ability to participate.


Watch this space for more information about the retreat during the coming months.


We look forward to seeing you then!

   Pearlstone Logo  

Education Corner by Amanda Pogany    



As the year comes to a close, I invite you to reflect on closure from the perspective of your students. You, as teachers, will spend time grading exams, reflecting on projects, writing report cards and sending comments to parents. But how will your students assess what they have learned, how they have grown, who they have become as learners? This process is not just about knowledge gained but about skills acquired, and relationships developed.

How the reflection process happens should be differentiated by grade, and can also be differentiated by choice. Some students may prefer to journal, others to draw, and others to reflect with a friend. For younger and more concrete thinkers, you will need to give more specific questions, as opposed to the open-ended ones. Whichever process you choose, encouraging them to start by looking at actual pieces of their work from the year will guide and enhance the process.

There are lots of fun ways to take the students back through the content from the year. Click here to see the list from a few of our alumni!


It is also important to help them reflect on the bigger picture, the goals they set for themselves, their growth as learners, etc.  

What expectations did you set for them at the beginning of the school year?  What goals did they set for themselves?  Give them some time to write reflections and responses to these goals.  

What changed in their havruta work and havruta relationships? What feels different now at the end of the year?  Have them ask their havruta to reflect back to them on how they feel.  

Look at their work from the beginning of the year and the end. What do they notice? What has changed?             


Goal Setting:  

Although they are leaving your classroom, it is an exciting process, after they have reflected on their growth from this year, to begin to think about next year. What content or skills would they like to continue to develop? Where do they hope to be at the end of next year?



Focus on Keren Romm (Cohort 5) 

Keren Romm is the Co-Director of Student Activities: Jewish Life, and a Tanakh teacher at the Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto-Kimel Family Education Center. Previously she  taught Jewish Studies, wrote curriculum in Tanakh and Medical Ethics, and was the Director of Student Life at the New Community Jewish High School in Los Angeles. She currently lives in Toronto with her husband, Hillel Kurlandsky.

RommTuesday afternoon, as I sat in my office after the final programs of the year (an assembly, in-class activities, and the carnival in honour of Yom Ha'atzmaut) were concluded, I began to reflect on the course of the year and the importance of experiential education in the formation of Jewish identity. I am now concluding my fifth year  of teaching, and my third year as the Director of Jewish Life, in two countries, on two opposite coasts. No matter the culture of the school, the willingness of the staff to participate and contribute, the balance of course work and extra-curricular involvement, I see that the moments spent as a class, a grade or as a community, are some of the most influential. These are the moments that students share with friends, take home to their families, capture on film, and recall as highlights when the year draws to an end.

Aside from shared memories and opportunities for exploration of Jewish identity, the most wonderful part of experiential education (and working with students to empower them in creating such moments for their classmates) is seeing students who may not be super-successful in the academic realm, shine. This is a platform where they can find a voice, create a niche, share their love and joy, without being graded. The success of the programs is based on their passion and willingness to invest and give of themselves, and not on their ability to study or write well. For many students in our school, this is where they find their real happiness in high school.

In moments of clarity, such as the one on Tuesday afternoon, I feel it pertinent to ask myself, "so what?" What is my obligation to these kids, to the program? Where do I see the next step? My vision is to continue working with students of different academic strengths, varying talents, personalities and interests, and finding a way to empower them. I do this by working with them, through hours of tears of both sorrow and joy, in order to foster an idea they have, and help them to develop it and make it happen. I am committed to teaching them how to work with colleagues and superiors, as well as motivating them to self- advocate and promote their vision within the community. In student activities, we have worked to diversify the group of students and number of leadership positions; this means that the kids who did not get elected for student council or get picked as peer coaches, can still find a way to make their voices heard and make their mark.The informal world of school allows students to move from the theoretical and philosophical lessons taught in class, such as Jewish values, Zionism, etc., into the practical by enabling them to implement programs that actualize these values and ideals.

Self-Reflection for Veteran Teachers   


We learned from your feedback that the three year milestone is often a "tipping point" at which our graduates begin to feel truly comfortable with their teaching personae. Schools generally provide less support for veteran teachers,thus, it may become more challenging  to continue to grow and develop in the field.  self reflection
We want to provide you with the opportunity to step back and reflect on where you are in your development as a teacher and to think about your goals and next steps.  We have carefully crafted an exercise that will help you do just that. If you are completing three or more years of teaching, and are returning to the classroom next year, please contact Amanda and she will send you all the materials you need. We are happy to provide whatever assistance as you embark upon this process of self-reflection. 



PEP News

If you haven't seen it yet... you need to watch it! If you haven't shepped nachas (and even shed a tear or two), you have to watch it again! If you haven't sent it on to your entire address book, then you need to spend five minutes on your e-mail and Facebook accounts. Because the new PEP video -  which celebrates YOU, PEP's graduates in the field - is inspiring and moving. The Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE) writes, "Wow: this video makes being a day school teacher look like the coolest, smartest, most meaningful vocation in the world."  And in re-posting the video, the New Jew blog tells you to "raise your hand if you're a Jewish educator, because apparently you're the coolest ever."

So take those few minutes to share the video with friends, family, and colleagues, because we are looking for a few good candidates to join YOU in changing the Jewish world, one classroom at a time. Please be in touch with Gail


Click here to watch now!


And join us in wishing a hearty mazal tov to Cohort 10, who will be graduating next month and joining your ranks at day schools all over the country, including the Heschel School (New York), Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Carmel Academy, Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, Tarbut v'Torah Day School, Chicagoland High School, the Weber School, the Davis Academy, the Solomon Schechter School of Greater Boston, and more!   

Clickhere to view the invitation


First Phase of the PEASP Evaluation Completed   


The PEP Alumni Support Project has gone through phase one of its evaluation process.  The results of this study have now been published and you can read it on the Jim Joseph Foundation website. We want to take the opportunity to thank those of you who were interviewed by Dr. Ezra Kopelowitz and Steven Moskowitz. We look forward to your comments/feedback on the report.


If you wish to see the full report, you can request a copy from Debra . This is not to be shared outside our alumni community. (Small sections of the report that either could have identified the interviewees or would not have been of interest to the wider field were eliminated from the published report.)  






Educational Publications, Resources and Opportunities

Moreh L'Morim Conference, a 4-day summer institute devoted to Judaic and educational growth for Jewish educators will take place in Cleveland from July 31-August 3, 2011. Please let Debra know if you are planning to attend and would be willing to do some recruitment for PEP.

Yemei Iyun on Bible and Jewish Thought sponsored by Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT) will be held in Teaneck, NJ,  June 26-27, 2011. Click here for details.  


The iCamp for Israel Education will be held August 14-16, 2011, at the Hyatt Lodge in Oak Brook, IL. Click here for details.   


The Center for Studies in Jewish Education and Culture is pleased to offer a summer course focusing on Havruta Learning and reflective practice. The seminar, taught by Elie Holzer and Miriam Raider-Roth will take place from August 1-August 5, 2011 at the University of Cincinnati.                           

And since we are on the topic of Havruta here are two articles:  

1. Orit Kent, "A Theory of Havruta Learning," Journal of Jewish Education, Volume 76, Issue 3, 2010,Pages 215 - 245. Click here to read an abstract of the article. 

2. Elie Holzer and Orit Kent, "Havruta: What do we know and what can we hope to learn?" in the forthcoming International Handbook of Jewish Education.


The newly launched website eHebrew.org is a free tool for you and/or your students to increase Hebrew vocabulary. EHebrew is an online dictionary of English & Hebrew terms organized by topic, where you can find English to Hebrew translations of words in 48 specific topics including food, family, art, sport, business, politics, and science!

 resources 2

Toldot Yisrael'new movie, "The Volunteers: Answering the Call of History," tells the stories of people like Vidal Sassoon, who left a hairdressing apprenticeship in England to come fight in the Palmach, and others who volunteered to help found the State of Israel. This project is funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation.

The Spring, 2011 issue of the Jewish Educational Leadership Journal-Teaching for Commitment, features articles by Yonatan Yussman (Cohort 1), Daniel Landes, David Bernstein and Levi Cooper. Zvi Grumet is Editor of the Journal. Contact Debra for the Lookstein login information in order to access the articles.


"Classroom Teaching", a teaching podcast series from the Lookstein Center, features five suggestions to help the students end the year with a sense of pride and accomplishment in their achievements. Click here to subscribe and listen.  


Jewish Educational Leadership invites articles for the Fall 2011 issue focusing on Assessment.

Submissions will be accepted until May 30, 2011. Please send your abstracts, final copies, or questions to Zvi Grumet



We Need Your Assessments

Zvi Grumet, editor of the Jewish Educational Leadership Journal, has asked us to put together a gallery of polished assessments that he would like to use in the upcoming publication (see looksteinabove). This is a wonderful opportunity to receive recognition for some of your hard work. If you would like to submit an assessment, for possible use, please send it to Debra no later than May 30. Be sure to indicate the grade level and subject.   


Alumni Updates

Professional News:


Yonatan Yussman (Cohort 1) has been appointed as Head of School at the Jewish High School of Connecticut. Click here to read the press release. 


Jen Truboff (Cohort 6) has accepted a position as the Director of Professional Develpment and Educational Technology for the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland.


Lisa Bodziner (Cohort 7) has accepted a position as Director of Education of Kayam Farms at the Pearlsone Conference and Retreat Center. 


Jory Stillman (Cohort 1) and Adam Tilove (Cohort 6) will be participating in the PRESENTENSE Fellowship launch night on May 25, 2011. Jory will be piloting her program, Shalom Kids Yoga at the Isabella Freedman Retreat Center this summer and teaching this program throughout New York City beginning in the fall, 2011.  


Mazal Tov to:


Ben Soloway (Cohort 5) on his engagement to Katie Light (Pardes 05-06) .  


Rachel Shapiro (Cohort 7) on her engagement to Tomer Fink.


Eliana Seltzer (Cohort 5) and her husband, Joel, on the birth of a daughter, Talia Zelda.

Mazal tov to big sister, Ayelet Martha.


We are sorry if we missed something. Please help us by sending in your news!



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