About six years ago, fresh out of seminary, I embarked on my first year of teaching in my local girls’ school. I began the school year idealistic and excited – and ended it, well, crushed. Without proper tools to face the classroom, my experience, typical for a first year teacher, made me a lot less sure about pursuing my lifelong dream of teaching.
I moved to Crown Heights, looking for a “Plan B”. That’s when I saw a billboard on a Kingston Ave. bus stop, inviting young men to join the first year of the Menachem Education Foundation’s Teacher Induction (then called Teacher Training) Program.
My first thought was, “Finally!” My second thought was, “Hey – what about me?”
Now, new teachers like I was, whether men or women, no longer have to ask that question. After five successful years of training melamdim for classroom success, the Menachem Education Foundation (MEF) has launched a parallel program for women. Its home? Bais Rivkah elementary school.
MEF’s partnership with Bais Rivkah ensures that trainees, who are all first and second year Bais Rivkah teachers, can benefit from a constant feedback loop. Everything that they learn in the program’s academies and forums is immediately applied in the classroom, and trainees benefit from the observation and mentoring of more senior Bais Rivkah teachers. Mrs. Altein, Bais Rivkah’s principal, is excited about this opportunity for her beginner teachers to grow on the job.
“We are fortunate to have found a program that is geared to work closely with our teachers, and provide them with excellent mentoring, so that all of our new ideas can be properly implemented,” says Mrs. Altein. “We hope this program will bring out the best in our teachers, and thereby provide the best in education for our students.”
While the men’s Teacher Induction Program has been developed and taught by Rabbi Zelig Silber, MEF’s director of Teacher Induction and veteran teacher in Monsey, Mrs. Gitty Rosenfeld has come on board as instructor for this new initiative. As a teacher with twenty years’ experience, and subsequently principal of the growing Shluchim Online School, Mrs. Rosenfeld is known for her expertise in the classroom and her talent for bringing out the best in other teachers.
“I’m excited to be able to train young teachers in teaching effectively,” says Mrs. Rosenfeld, “ultimately impacting their students in a real way. I found the group of teachers to be interested, open minded, and appreciative of this opportunity.”
Joining Mrs. Rosenfeld is Ms. Chyena Blau, who will be mentoring the teacher trainees. Ms. Blau comes to the table with extensive teaching experience and classroom success. In addition, she is certified by the Jewish New Teachers Project (JNTP), which trains teacher-mentors to help new teachers thrive.
Rabbi Itzick Yarmush, MEF’s program director, worked tirelessly to bring this partnership into fruition, while Ms. Gabrielle Steinhardt, a CUNY PHD student and curriculum specialist at MEF, helped develop the innovative curriculum, incorporating current and professional education models and instructional strategies, for both the men’s and women’s programs. MEF would also like to thank Morah Chanah Gorowitz and Mrs. Hindy Gurwitz of Bais Rivkah’s Division of Higher Learning for all of their assistance in coordinating this program.
Thanks to all of these collaborative efforts, our community’s talented and idealistic young teachers have the opportunity to pursue their dreams of working in Chinuch, on the sure footing of professional training and a wealth of support. The Menachem Education Foundation salutes those who make Chinuch their Shlichus – and is now proud to be able to include the women who do so as well. For more information about its Teacher Induction Programs for men and for women, please visit www.mymef.org/Programs/TTP.