MEF’s Rapid COVID Response
For over a decade, the Menachem Education Foundation has been a responsive and flexible organization, constantly anticipating and meeting the needs of the Chinuch community. Over the last nine months, when the Covid pandemic forced school closures and numerous changes to the educational system, that rapid and flexible response has been more important than ever.
On the Thursday evening of the initial shutdown back in March 2020., MEF convened an unprecedented emergency meeting of every principal of a Chabad school in Brooklyn to discuss how the schools would coordinate their response to the crisis. By Friday, when NYC schools officially shut down, the participants of the meeting signed and disseminated a joint letter to the entire Crown Heights community stating that they would be approaching the crisis as a cohesive unit.
The collaboration between every single Crown Heights school was a historic show of unity, an inspiring alliance to protect and care for the children in the Chabad community. These early partnerships, created in just hours after governmental closures were announced, set the tone for the entire Chabad community’s prioritization of quality Chinuch during COVID.
Within hours of the initial principal meeting, the schools agreed to an interim, interschool platform to meet the immediate schooling needs of their thousands of students. Within 48 hours, CHYeshiva, an expansive learning platform that could accommodate thousands of students was already up and running.
“When it was most needed, MEF was able to serve as a unifying force among schools and educators,” shares Rabbi Mendy Vail, associate executive director of Darchei Menachem in Crown Heights. “At a time when schools were all struggling with the same transition to online schooling, having a central organization to turn to was the lifeboat we all needed.”
MEF is committed to continue to be there for Chinuch, come what may.
PPE: Professionally Preparing Educators
That same day, MEF arranged two online teaching tutorial webinars that were viewed by hundreds of Jewish teachers worldwide. As the situation developed, MEF continued to facilitate training webinars for men and women teachers, creating custom tips and tools for every grade’s educators to teach online. These webinars were free and open to the public, as MEF was committed to ensuring access for any teacher who could benefit.
To connect teachers during the intense time of turmoil, MEF also created various social media groups for teachers to collaborate on adapting to online instruction. MEF also assumed responsibility for teacher morale, providing inspirational talks and online get-togethers for teachers at a time of emotional and professional overwhelm. These farbrengens and inspirational lectures were attended by hundreds.
Read more about MEF training and support for teachers and principals, throughout the pandemic and beyond.
Throughout this crisis, MEF has served as the address for educators to turn to for help and connection. As principals began developing their online school approach, MEF was there to support them with professional development, training, and networking opportunities, sharing vital resources to enable schools to deliver the best possible education online.
Whether pivoting online or adhering to socially distanced guidelines, MEF continues to plan and execute much needed professional development programs in areas from outcomes-based curriculum planning to student mental health. We know that when the dust settles, the world of Chinuch will need strong leadership more than ever, to motivate teachers and students to “hit the ground running” with engaging and successful learning. At MEF, we keep an eye toward the future to make sure that can happen.
Educators continue to play the role of essential workers and frontline responders for our children. When the Chinuch world emerges from this crisis, schools will need to come back stronger than ever.