Finalist Bio (Men) #4: Rabbi Zalman Schapiro
Rabbi Zalman Schapiro
It is very hard to find a mechanech who is both a consummate professional while retaining a Chasidish varmkeit in loving each of his students. Rabbi Schapiro is one such man. An organized, efficient and professional educator who brings a wealth of experience to the table, Rabbi Schapiro is also a beloved father-like figure to his students, caring for their individual needs. In addition to covering an expanse of learning material, he is a mechanech who appreciates that success may look different for each child and cares for each child’s emotional wellbeing down to the last detail. And the children know it as they feel that they matter and are cared for, gaining the confidence they need to learn and grow.
Rabbi Shapiro is known to utilize a review system that ensures knowledge and learning is maintained throughout the school year to the extent that one could “spot check any child and he will know everything from the beginning of the year.” Not only does Rabbi Shapiro rely on rigorous learning standards, he constantly expresses his love for his students in various ways, from bending down to a child’s level when speaking to him to conference calling a boy who is out sick to make him a part of the class.
Acting as a Dugma Chaya and Mashpia for his students Rabbi Shapiro “believes in the Neshama of every child”. With his Chasidishe hanhaga he stresses that the children should value ruchnius rather than gashmius, farbrenging with the students so that the lesson becomes a part of the children’s belief system. Both in and out of the classroom, Rabbi Shapiro leads his life in a way that inspires his students for years to come. As some have described him “Chinuch is not his job, it is his life.”