The following finalists were nominated for the Chinuch Awards: 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 Mechanchim 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.
Rabbi Shuki Steinberg
A passionate mechanch who is devoted to seeing his students succeed, Rabbi Steinberg will do whatever it takes to make sure each one of his students reaches his full potential. Energetic and enthusiastic, he brings learning to life with exciting stories, innovative activities and a unique charisma that is all his own. As a leader of his school’s Mishnayos and Gemara curriculum, Rabbi Steinberg carefully developed a system that ensures every student can open up a Sefer and understand the content independently. A believer in using chavrusa learning to draw out each child’s ability to learn, he has succeeded in helping students not only gain a sense of ownership over their own learning, but assist and strengthen their peers.
With an innate ability to know what exactly every single child needs to succeed, Rabbi Steinberg has developed different and separate tracks to guide his students towards the goal of having them be able to open a Sefer and break down the content on their own. As one parent whose son had in previous years struggled to keep up with the class explained, “Rabbi Steinerg was able to teach the entire class and still ensure that my son succeeded. He spent time with him after class, called me to follow up, and even texted my husband suggestions of what to review,” stressing that the busy Rebbi, “cares about the details that nobody has time for.”
Rabbi Yosef Wolowik
Although he is already a well-established mechanech, Rabbi Wolowik is never satisfied with the status quo, constantly seeking to refine and enhance his educational skills. Rabbi Wolowik continues to innovate creating workbooks and guides to assist students in understanding Gemara. Recognized for developing a teaching methodology that stresses the fundamental skills necessary for “Hascholas Gemara”, Rabbi Wolowik takes the initiative to find different methods of learning for each student, providing his students with the necessary tools and skills to learn and thrive.
Rabbi Wolowik has implemented cutting-edge technology and standard-based learning for Talmud study, utilizing the Smartboard, online assessments, and classroom ipads to enhance learning. His leadership in the educational arena of Gemara is valued by fellow educators, and his teaching method is continuously adapted into the curriculum of other institutions.
As both a teacher and assistant principal, Rabbi Wolowik is an expert in providing children who are struggling both in and out of the classroom with the one-on-one attention they need. His outstanding rapport with his classroom students also extends to students throughout the school, as he demonstrates an extraordinary ability to turn discipline into a “teaching moment” that every student knows will be fair, eye-opening and doable. Beloved and looked up to by his talmidim, Rabbi Wolowik was voted by the graduating Eighth Grade class as “the teacher who taught them the most material and left them with lessons that they will always remember.”
Rabbi Yossel Sirota
When it comes to chinuch, Rabbi Sirota knows one philosophy: positivity. A phenomenal mechanech who truly cares about his students’ wellbeing, Rabbi Sirota’s positive reinforcement and ability to raise his student’s confidence up with a simple kind word are legendary. Known to hold his class spellbound as he weaves text learning together with lessons on chassidishkeit and ahavas yisroel, Rabbi Sirota brings excitement to every lesson. Known for spending his own resources on the children, he imbues excitement and a love for learning in his classroom, making sure that no matter what the children come first.
Rabbi Sirota regularly consults with the school’s leadership and communicates with parents to gauge where each student is holding and works with children who are struggling to catch them up to the rest of the class. With the goal of ensuring that every one of his students can master basic Chumash skills, he has also become a champion of data driven instruction, analyzing assessment results to identify individual students’ areas of weakness and creating personalized action plans to focus on building specific skills.
Rabbi Sirota is able to break down individual skills to ensure every student can achieve independent learning. In one case, using his method of assessment and analysis he discovered that a student was successful and breaking down prefixes but not suffixes. This discovery allowed Rabbi Sirota to realize that the student was not reading well, as he never got to the end of the word. He was then able to develop a program to bring the child’s reading up to grade level. In similar ways, Rabbi Sirota patiently works with each child, making sure no one falls between the cracks.
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.”
Rabbi Yosef Wolf
A sought after expert in Gemara learning, Rabbi Wolf was instrumental in setting up innovative new programs for gemara learning throughout his school community. While students who come into his class may be hesitant to embrace Gemara learning, “by the end of the year students are very comfortable delving into Talmud and have come to enjoy it.” As a team leader of the gemara curriculum, Rabbi Wolf regularly collaborates with others and incorporates new ideas into his own teaching.Videos that he produced of the methodologies of teaching Gemara that he developed in his classroom have been viewed by hundreds of fellow teachers who seek to learn from his expertise.
For his own students, Rabbi Wolf takes a very personalized approach, making sure that each child gains on his own level. Interacting with his students both in and out of class, Rabbi Wolf coaches those who are lacking in confidence and personally guides them as they grow emotionally as well as in learning. Through reaching out and connecting with every single child in various ways, Rabbi Wolf helps them do well in his class, but more importantly, gives them a tremendous feeling of self-confidence that sets them on the path to future success. While typically only some students would develop their strengths from a personal relationship with their Rebbi, what is “amazing” about Rabbi Wolf’s class is that it is “across the board.”