Over 500 Mechanchos from around the world gathered this morning for the first day of the largest-ever 8th Annual Kinus Mechanchos Chabad, a two-day convention for Chabad women educators, taking place in Stamford, CT.

The program began with a trip to the Ohel, where Mrs. Batsheva Deren, Principal of Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh, read a Pan Kloli, asking for the Rebbe’s Brachos for continued success for all the Mechanchos.

Participants then gathered at the Hilton Stamford Hotel and Executive Meeting Center for a lavish lunch, and heard words of welcome from Rabbi Baruch Hertz, Rav in Residence at the Kinus Mechanchos. Odel Zirkind, Teacher at Beth Rivkah Montreal, explained the timely theme of the Kinus Mechanchos, “Vekovei Hashem Yachalifu Koach – Restoring Strength, Skills and Connection in Shnas Hakhel.”

Participants attended sessions divided into specialized tracks for every role in Chinuch, so that each educator in attendance can receive the tools to meet the needs of her students.

Sessions included: “Unlocking Resilience” with Dr. Carly Namdar, E.D.d, M.S.Ed, CSP, for all educators, and “Leading Change Towards Positive School Culture” with Rabbi Mendel Greenbaum, Head of School at Cheder Menachem and Bais Chaya Mushka in Los Angeles, CA, for school leaders.

Early childhood educators had a chance to hear from Tova Goldberg, MS, OTR/L, on “Sensory Input to Help Students Thrive” and about the potential of playtime in the classroom from Nechama Dahan, M.Ed.

The specialized track for general studies teacher included a workshop on writing skills by Esther Kesselman, B.Ed, NPHQ, and a workshop on teaching math by Chanie Hurwitz, M.Ed.

Panel discussion on “The Healthy Development and Expression of our Students’ Identities,” based on Mikvah.org’s discussion for educators, was led by Sara Morozow, Dena Gorkin and Rabbi Baruch Hertz.

To provide Mechanchos with tools so needed to reach the whole child in the classroom, Rus Devorah Wallen, LCSW, ACSW, CIMPH, presented on “The Calm Instead of the Storm: How Self-Regulation Can Benefit You & Your Students,” and Sara Morozow gave a talk on the role of the teacher and Mashpia when students struggle with Yiddishkeit.

Other workshops included “Connecting Through Creativity” with Chaya-Bracha Rubin and Mushky Yiftach, “The Gift of Tefillah: Connecting Students to Hashem” with Mushky Zaltzman, and “Ask the Rav: Chinuch in Halacha and Lubavitch Hashkafah” with Rabbi Baruch Hertz.

New features at this year’s Kinus Mechanchos are the “Minute to Win It” networking sessions, where Mechanchos gathered with educators of the same subject and grade level to meet and exchange their best teaching tips and ideas in under one minute, as well as a special set of sessions devoted to providing self-care for Mechanchos through painting, creative writing and even a sheitel care workshop.

Participants continually share how much they are enjoying meeting fellow educators, who have joined from all over the world, and how beautiful and informative the first day of the conference has been