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November, 2011

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The Jim Joseph Foundation

Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project  

Newsletter November 2011/ Cheshvan 5772  

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Dear Hevre,


I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief now that the holidays are behind us. We wish you lots of "hatzlaha" as you settle in-to your teaching. Please note that the education corner this month, relating to parent-teacher conferences, should be timely.  


Our efforts on behalf of the alumni support project have focused heavily this fall on support to our first and second year teachers. Amanda, Susan, David and Judy have already - or will soon - visit these novice teachers. Several of our more veteran teachers have served as coaches to the newest graduates. In addition, Amanda is organizing two new initiatives which will provide additional support.  


Given that our alumni retreat will take place only in March, 2012, the recent graduates will meet for a short conference to be held at the Ramada Inn near Newark airport, November 13-14, 2011. I am sure that our other alumni remember the importance of support during those early months.  


Please note that if you have an interest in establishing a community of practice to discuss a common interest, we will help to facilitate such a group. For example, one of our graduates is working to enhance student leadership in her school. If others are interested in being part of a think tank/sharing group on that subject, please contact Debra.  


Enjoy reading the newsletter.  Remember that previous newsletters are archived on our website, should you want to access earlier education columns or other information. 


Kol tuv,

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 - Matthew Lipman   (Cohort 7)   

Matthew taught middle and high school Judaics at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Rockville, MD, from 2007-2011.  Matthew came on aliya during the summer of 2011 along with his wife, Ilana (Cohort 7) and children, Noa and Matan. They currently live in Modiin.        

A Fresh Perspective 

My wife Ilana and I recently watched the pilot episode of 'Friends' and we were both struck by the same thing, namely that Ross says that he is now a 26 year old divorcee.  26???!!!  Ross wMatthew Lipmanas 26???!!!  How did that happen? When I started watching 'Friends' when it first came onto our screens, Ross seemed to be this uber-cool, super old guy. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that he is actually several years younger than I am now and not even as cool as me (okay, admittedly he still may be slightly cooler than me.)  My perception of Ross's character and his personality was now very different from when I first encountered him many years ago as a teenager. This seemed to me to be a perfect analogy for this time of year.    


Click here to read the entire dvar torah. 



New Initiatives 


The focus of our work over the past few years has been on helping our novice teachers. Last spring, the Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project (PEASP), began to put a similarly strong focus on our more veteran alumni who continued to work in day schools. Eleven graduates took on an action research project in the area of Tefilah in their schools. The participants are currently writing up their findings and we look forward to sharing them with all our alumni.  


Click here to learn more about the following exciting projects:    

  •  Havruta ProjectNew initiatives
  • Middle School PLC
  • Elementary Anchor Activity Database
  • Curriculum Development  






 Alumni Retreat  March 22-262012     

 Keep Your Calendars Clear


A reminder to all those who are either working in any form of Jewish Education or who are on temporary leave, this year's PEASP retreat will be held at the Pearlstone Conference and Retreat Center outside of Baltimore, MD.   


We are planning a two-tiered conference so as to address the needs of both our new and veteran alumni. Our first and second year teachers will attend from Thursday evening through Sunday afternoon (March 22-25, 2012), while our more veteran graduates will start on Friday afternoon and remain through Monday lunch (March 23-26, 2012).  


Those of you who are participating in the Havruta Project for Veteran Alumni will stay through the afternoon on Monday, March 26.  


By mid-January you will receive all of the necessary registration information and a tentative schedule.

Please keep your calendars clear for those dates.  

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Education Corner by Susan Wall     

Parent-Teacher Conferences  

There are multiple reasons for making sure you are adequately prepared for parent-teacher conferences. Most importantly, the meeting can be a valuable opportunity for you to both learn about the child, and communicate key information to the parents - so as to improve the learning for the student. We need to remember that the parents are our partners in the work we do. We both invest a great deal in day school education. Like all partnering situations, sometimes we are on the same page, and sometimes we need to work through difficulties.  


You need to prepare for these conferences as you would prepare for an important lesson. Your meeting time is probably short, so you should make the most of each moment. This (as opposed to open house night) should be about the individual child. Be clear on your goals and communicate those to the parents in advance. Consider the following as steps toward reaching your overall goal:

Click here to read more. 

 ECParent teacher conferences

Summer Curriculum Workshop 2012

Dates for the Summer Curriculum Workshop for Novice Day School Teachers has tentatively been scheduled for July 10-July 24, 2012.

More information will be made available in December. Please do not make any reservations before consulting with Debra.




Focus on Matt Conti  (Cohort 7) 

Matt Conti has been at Gann Academy, Watham MA .since 2008. He currently teaches Jewish Studies and World History. 

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My 4th year of teaching is well underway and I think I realize now that I've been misled. People tell you that your 3rd year is the year it all comes together. For me it is actually the 4th. I've made enough mistakes, lived through enough bad classes, long nights, and tense parent-teacher conferences, to take everything in stride. I've mastered riding the waves, even when I'm not wild about where it is going.


My first job, following completion of the Educators Program, was teaching Tanakh at the Gann Academy in Boston, MA. I've been lucky to work at a place where students really care about Tanakh and the Jewish People. Even the ones who are dubious about some of the claims of the Tanakh love to engage and struggle with the text. They ask honest questions and aren't afraid to say that they don't know or don't understand.


Click here to read the entire article.


PEP News


The year 5772 at PEP has had an auspicious start! Nineteen hard-working and passionate Educators are already happily in the swing of Beit Midrash study, pedagogy courses, history seminar, peer teaching, school observations, and much more.


Two of the newest Educators come to Pardes as part of new PEP initiatives. Avi Spodek, a veteran Jewish history teacher, who most recently taught at the Beth Tfiloh Dahan High School in Baltimore, has joined Cohort 11 in the Accelerated One-Year Track. At PEP, he is remaking himself into a Jewish text teacher by strengthening his text study skills and learning how to teach Tanakh and Talmud in a critical manner. Avi has come to Israel with his wife and two children.


Cohort 12 includes Leah Kahn - the inaugural member of PEP's new Experiential Education Track. Leah, who has a Masters degree in Jewish professional studies, has served for the past several years as Director of Engagement at the University of Chicago's Hillel. Her department was nationally known for successfully engaging many Jewish students in embracing a Jewish journey. At PEP, Leah is readying herself to reach even more students by becoming classically trained in the Jewish canon. She also hopes to thoughtfully connect college students to Israel after experiencing all that Israel has to offer. Leah is joined by her husband for her two years at PEP.


Good luck to Avi, Leah, and their highly motivated peers. We wish them a productive year of Torah, learning, and teaching!




From the Field


As staff members visit our newer alumni in the school, we often see techniques or activities worth sharing. Below are two ideas from a recent visit. Both of these were assessments that went hand in hand with the goals. More ideas will follow in future newsletters.


I. Differentiating Between Text and Midrash.  

With thanks to Aleeza Adelman, cohort 9, New Orleans Jewish Day School. This was used in elementary school, but could be adapted for older students as well.


Aleeza had her students fold a paper in half. On one side, they drew a picture of what was in the text, but were asked to only draw what was actually written in the text. Once they completed their pictures, Aleeza had them study some of the midrashic stories and then had them re-draw the picture, this time using not only what was in the original text, but also what was included in the midrashic material. The activity was then used as the basis for discussing the difference between text and midrash.   


2. Power of the Prophet  

With thanks to Samara Schwartz, cohort 8, Davis Academy, Atlanta, GA


The curriculum for Samara's 7th graders focuses on tzedek. They had recently completed a study of the Book of Amos. Samara had the students each bring in a newspaper article that discussed some aspect of injustice in the world. After sharing the articles, she had each one write the message of the article, in Amos language, or as she called it, "amosifying" the topic, including what each saw as a fitting punishment. "For 3 sins of ______, nay for 4 I will not forgive. For they have ________________, and therefore _______________________."  Samara then had each one "prophecy" to the class, with great drama. The "amosified" articles were then hung in the room so that students from all classes could see and appreciate what they had done

     From the field


Educational Publications, Resources and Opportunities


Jewish Educational Leadership invites articles for the Winter 2012 issue focusing on Empowering Students. Click here for more information and guidelines. Feel free to contact Zvi Grumet directly with any questions you may have.

In her role as Director of Professional Development and Educational Technology for the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland, Jen Truboff (Cohort 6) has access to the latest online educational resources.  She has shared resources on our PEP Alumni Forum. Following are some of the resources she has shared:
The new semester of the Online Academy of Mofet has just begun. For more information about the different Jewish Studies programs click here. 

Lookstein Center offers a source for lesson plans in Judaic studies, divided by topic and grade level. Click here.

"This Week in Jewish History" e-newsletter, a free resource from the JTA Jewish News Archive, debuted on November 6, 2011. Click here to subscribe. You can also subscribe your classroom. Click here for details.   

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Sunday, November 13, 2011 is the Global Day of Jewish Learning. Click here for de tails.

In response to a posting on our forum, here are some links for online listening to Tefilot, Hagaddah, Megillot and more:

Are you interested in a working at a camp this summer? The Mandel Center for Jewish Education of JCC Association is seeking qualified educators to serve as Jewish Programming Directors (JPD) at Jewish Community Center resident camps across the U.S. and Canada. Click here for details.





Alumni Update

Yasher Koach to: 


Andy Shapiro Katz (Cohort 2) on receiving an MBA at Ben Gurion University's Honors MBA Program. The graduation ceremony will take place at the end of December. 


Shifra Kaufman (cohort 8) on taking the lead role in the development of a new student siddur for her school, Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation's Capital (JPDS), Washington, D.C. 


Mazal Tov to:


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

Debbie Jacobson-Maisels (Cohort 2) and James (Kollel 02-04, faculty 07-present) on the birth of a son, Amiel Zohar. Mazal Tov to sister, Ella.

Lisa Brookman (Cohort 2) on the birth of a baby girl, Nava. Mazal tov to big sister Eliana and brother Nadav.  


We wished Jessica Lissy Trey (Cohort 3) and Jeffrey a mazal tov on the birth of a son in the last newsletter but at the time he didn't have a name. His name is Charlie (Bezalel) 


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