The following finalists were nominated for the Chinuch Awards 5777: Caring and Connection by parents, students, fellow teachers and members of the administration. They were chosen based on their exemplary way of teaching and interacting with students and parents.
These Mechanchos are role models for our children and anyone who is affected by Chinuch. They personify what Chinuch is, and the beautiful future that Chinuch has with them in our classrooms.
Morah Chany Brod
Grade 1, Beis Rivka Elementary, Brooklyn, NY
Morah Chany Brod has been teaching first graders for decades, but that has in no way slowed her down. In the words of one student, “she makes us feel like we are worth a million dollars.” Parents as well know that she can be trusted with their daughters and that she herself can be turned to as a source of support and assistance if necessary. Going the extra mile, Morah Brod has written Yiddish books and created Yiddish music CD’s to make learning Yiddish easier and more fun.
Facing her classroom with a perfect blend of Chessed and Gevurah, she is careful to work to understand the reasons behind a child’s misbehavior and to talk privately and respectfully with those who need reminders. She uses personal stories to provide first-grade level lessons and creates a very real feeling of Moshiach and Yiddishkeit for her girls. A magnificent Dugma Chaya, she always does whatever she asks the girls to do, takes them on Mivtzoyim, organizes a Maos Chittim project among staff, and continues to be a role model and excellent teacher for “her maidelach.”
Morah Chaya Estreicher
Grade 1, Cheder at the Ohel, Valley Stream, NY
Morah Chaya Estreicher’s class of first-grade boys have been known to throw a tantrum when hearing that there was a snow day, out of disappointment in missing her class. Building on a solid foundation of trust, security, and confidence in their teacher, these little boys develop a love for Chumash that lasts them through their elementary years. She works hard to make what she is teaching real for her students, bringing them to a body of water to teach them about Rivka’s well, and having them lay on the grass with their eyes closed while teaching them about Matan Torah.
Sending a craft to every student before school even begins to give them a sense of belonging before they step into the classroom. Once they are there, the care she shows for them is undeniable – personally delivering missed work, ensuring that shy children find friends, creating lesson plans that allow each student to shine, and more. Students who face behavioral or emotional challenges are worked with thoughtfully and kindly, invigorating them with a sense of confidence and love for school.
Mrs. Goldy Gansburg
Grades 10th-11, Beis Rivka High School, Brooklyn, NY
The 10th and 11th grades know that they are in for a treat when their schedules inform them that they have Mrs. Goldy Gansburg as their teacher. Her care is conveyed through the very high standard she holds for her students. She doesn’t give up on her students and shows them that she believes in them and their capabilities. She teaches the important skill of “I can work hard and accomplish” to her teenage students.
Mrs. Gansburg’s belief in her students allows them to develop a sense of self-worth. Students remember class discussions and the lessons she taught long after they took their final test in her class. She quietly and confidentially does everything it takes to help her students. She gets girls accepted into camp, and discretely raises funds when needed. Parents are comforted in knowing that she truly cares for their daughters. In any situation, she asks, “What would you want me to do if this was my own daughter?”
Mrs. Devorah Leah Smith
Grades 9-12, Beis Chana, Miami, FL
For Mrs. Devorah Leah Smith, her Talmidos are never just a job – they are her priority. Teaching is on her mind all day and all year, even throughout the summer. She works hard to connect with each and every student, and makes sure to give each one work that challenges her individually and on her own academic level. A present teacher, who makes the lessons applicable and relevant to her high school students lives, Mrs. Smith leads in-depth discussions on issues that her students are interested in exploring.
Mrs. Smith will go out of her way to reach out to students to try to help them succeed, allowing them to call or text her when help is needed and even staying during breaks to help specific students. A devoted Mechaneches, Mrs. Smith strives to develop a personal relationship with each student and voluntarily hosts Shabbattonim in her home for each grade.
A personal advocate for her students, Mrs. Smith goes out of her way to help them get accepted to seminary and has even fundraised for girls’ seminary tuition when needed. Even years later, many students remain in touch with her and call her in and after seminary, as Kallahs and beyond, seeking her assistance through the various struggles they face in their lives. Beloved by parents, students, and colleagues alike, Mrs. Smith has been described as, “She is Chassidishkeit. She’s real.”
Mrs. Ella Wilhelm
Grades 9th-12, Beth Rivkah Ladies College, Melbourne, AU.
Mrs. Ella Wilhelm has had years of experience working with High School students. This warm, devoted teacher tailors her teaching to meet her students’ needs as well as encourages them to care for and connect with each other. She has such a wide breadth of knowledge; the students know that they can talk to her about anything. She has been known to take the time to discuss current events that students are disturbed by or to make a concept more real for them. She extends herself beyond school hours to make herself available to each and every student.
Numerous students formed lasting connections with her and credit her with their well-being or frumkeit. Her keen understanding and quick thinking have enabled her to help many students in a time they were most struggling and acting out as a result. She is constantly learning, both in Torah and in professional development. She is a mentor for many students, those still in school, and even those who are already out.