These voices showcase best practices and exemplary moments of the Covenant Classroom in action. These educators serve as an example for the field and offer additional insights and inspiration for those seeking to raise the quality of Jewish education.
“What makes a teacher great is a love of learning and a love for humanity. Everything else can be taught,” says Gitta Jaroslawicz-Neufeld, Director of Education at the Allegra Franco School of Educational Leadership in Brooklyn, NY. “I can teach you how to transmit a text, how to manage a classroom—if you love what you’re doing, it’s a piece of cake,” she says. In this video, viewers watch as Gitta mentors a young Judaic Studies teacher, inside her own classroom as well as at Allegra Franco. She also talks about how important it is for teachers to be intellectually curious, and focus not just on transmitting answers to students, but also, on changing students’ lives.
Amy Skopp Cooper is the National Associate Director of the Ramah Camping Movement and the Director of Camp Ramah in Nyack, NY, a day camp for kids aged 5-13. Ramah in Nyack has over 700 campers and a staff of more than 400 people. “It’s like being the mayor of a town,” Skopp Cooper says. This video gives viewers a window into a day in Amy’s life as camp director, as she tackles a snag in the well-oiled workings of camp life. Faced with record-breaking temperatures one summer, Amy and her staff rally to take over 700 campers off-site and, at the last minute, find multiple air-conditioned spaces for them to spend a camp day. “I guess the way I like to look at camp,” she says, “is that our first answer has to always be yes. In almost every situation, you can figure out a solution.”
In this video, Beth Huppin, an educator at Congregation Beth Shalom in Seattle, Washington, talks about the shared language that develops when she teaches texts to adults. She also muses on the profound act of bringing student and text together. “All the clutter, sadness, happiness…the stuff of life, goes away, and the real stuff comes out,” she says.” This video offers a glimpse into one of her adult education classes, where students look at psalms, “our words to God,” and study in chevruta. “They know stuff that I don’t know,” Huppin says, “and together, we come up with something good.”
“In celebrating Jewish education,” Dr. Rebecca Schorsch offers, “we remind ourselves of the contribution of Jewish education in making us whole.” Dr. Schorsch is Director of Jewish Studies at the Chicagoland Jewish High School in Deerfield, IL, and was a recipient of a Covenant Award in 2014.