Melissa Greenwood (Cohort 7)

Melissa Greenwood is a graduate of cohort 7, HUC, LA. She is currently a 6th Grade English and social studies teacher at Emek Hebrew Academy in Sherman Oaks, CA. Thanks to Melissa and to Jacob Hall, of the Curriculum Resources Bank committee, for conducting the interview. Special kudos go out to a creative novice teacher willing to share her practice with colleagues!

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspects of teaching? The most challenging? The rewarding feelings come when the kids make connections, come across things in their everyday lives that they now know, thanks to my class, or sincerely thank me for teaching them something they’ve enjoyed. The challenging piece has been classroom management in a setting of all adolescent boys!

Upon reflection, how has going through the DeLeT program shaped the way you function in your school and view your role in your school? I think that my lessons are more interesting and better thought-through, thanks to DeLeT. I also have a bevy of colleagues to turn to, and I absolutely lean on them when I have a question about how to go about doing something.

How do you see your role as a leader in your JDS? DeLeT has inspired me to take on leadership roles, even this early on. Thus far I have copy-edited the school’s WASC document and re-written its mission statement, all as a first year teacher. I have also stepped in to substitute whenever needed.

People come to me for ideas with bulletin boards, and this has been very flattering, especially because I think that my artistic inclination and spatial-visual skills are “suspect.” I feel really proud of the student work I’ve displayed.

Can you discuss your vision of JDS in the future – what do you think are the most critical factors in advancing JDS education in the future? Parents have to keep valuing Jewish education enough to send their children to JD schools over other public and private options. In these tough economic times, JD schools, with the exception, perhaps, of the Orthodox schools, are having a tougher and tougher time keeping their doors open. I strongly believe in the necessity of non-Orthodox choices within the community, for teachers and families alike, and I am saddened that these options so often do not exist. I hope to see a lot more community schools in the future, as this is a model I can really support–one that promotes inclusivity.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? I would like to branch out a bit and experiment with teaching older children (possibly high school). I see myself being very comfortable in my own skin and letting difficult situations get to me less. I hope, too, to take criticism more lightly than I do now.