Alumni Spotlight

You can find our alumni in various educational settings across the public and private sector. Our alumni inspire youth and fellow educators daily - read some of their stories below.

Jodi Hirsch ReinJodi Hirsch Rein (Cohort 1)

Q: What year did you graduate DeLeT/What cohort and campus are you from?

I was part of Brandeis Cohort 1, 2002-2003! I received my MAT from Brandeis in 2005.

Q: What is your current position?

I work at Gesher Jewish Day School, in Fairfax Virginia, currently as the Elementary School Principal. Next year, I will be the principal for the entire school.

Q: Are you doing anything extra outside of your teaching responsibilities?

Extra!? I am a rabbi’s wife! And I’m a principal! And I have two awesome, rambunctious, delicious boys! I’m pretty busy. Oh, and I’m on the Ramah D.C. Day Camp Committee.

Q: We hear you took on an administrative role in your school when you joined in 2014. Can you tell us about yourself as a leader?

My first year at Gesher, I spent a lot of time learning the culture of the school. I was really focused on the day-to-day of the school and I definitely got “caught in the weeds.” As I grew in my second year, I learned how to manage my time better and prioritize the things that I believed were the most important for the school. We also got a new HOS at Gesher and I began to look forward and envision all the possibilities for the school. Before I could even think about myself as a leader, however, I had to get myself “out of the weeds.” I listed all of my hopes and dreams for Gesher and made a plan for how to achieve them over time. Although there were many things I wanted to tackle, I knew that I wanted to tackle school culture, discipline, and building the community first.

Brent RosenBrent Rosen (Cohort 12)

Q: What year did you graduate DeLeT/What cohort and campus are you from?

I graduated from HUC cohort 12 in 2014.

Q: What is your current position?

I am currently at Valley Beth Shalom Day School in Encino, CA. I’m a 4th grade general studies teacher and I run the after-school drama program.

Q: Are you doing anything extra outside of your teaching responsibilities?

Yes! The drama program is outside of my teaching responsibilities. Any time there is any kind of arts program (Generations Day, grade-level productions, etc.), I’m called upon to help with the technical aspect because of everything I do with the drama program.

Q: We hear you have transformed the performing arts program at your school! Can you tell us about this?

When I started at VBS, I came at a time when one of the drama specialists was leaving. My head of school, knowing my background in drama, asked if I would be a part of the program. I began working with another woman to run the program. Because of my background in running teen drama programs, I was able to bring in friends who have experience in the industry to help us bring our program to the next level. We used to have mainly parent volunteers help with sets and costumes, but as of this year, we have a professional set designer who works with our students. Before I came, we didn’t have a lot of tech--we didn’t have sound or lighting--but now we have specialists who incorporate these elements into our performances and all of the other programs we do at VBS.

ilanaIlana Elson (Cohort 6)

Q: What year did you graduate DeLeT/What cohort and campus are you from?

I was at Brandeis in cohort 6 and I graduated in 2008.

Q: What is your current position?

I have been teaching fourth grade at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School in Manhattan for the last two years. I had wanted to make a move to NYC and this teaching opportunity came up quickly as a suggestion from a former JDS colleague who had made a switch there; she both helped me secure this opportunity and I was able to continue our teaching relationship. The school gave me the opportunity to try a different model of co-teaching. Currently, I fully co-teach and co-plan with a partner all day. My school is an independent school and I mostly teach language arts and social studies. For six years after DeLeT, I taught in Jewish Day Schools in Connecticut and South Jersey. It’s been really interesting working in a secular school, but I really miss being part of a Jewish educational community.

Sarah BurnsSarah Burns(Cohort 7)

Sarah Burns is a member of DeLeT Cohort 1 (Brandeis). After DeLeT, she moved to New York City where she taught math at the Abraham Joshua Heschel High School. She recently returned to the Boston area with her husband, Dan, and is taking some time out of the classroom to be with her children, Maya and Eli.

Jewish education is important to Sarah, but her first love is math. She is passionate about teaching for understanding and helping students find meaning in mathematics, both by finding everyday applications for math and by finding the beauty and elegance of the subject for its own sake. She is interested in examining the ways that thoughtful planning and assessing impacts students’ learning. Sarah is also excited about teaching young people about Jewish life through experiential learning and being a role model for various ways of being involved in the Jewish community.

Leah TickerLeah Ticker (Cohort 3)

Leah Ticker, a cohort 3 alumna of DeLeT HUC, teaches first grade, general and Judaic studies, at the Brawerman Day School in Los Angeles. Brawerman is a Reform day school whose mission is to help students acquire competence and confidence as communicators, problem solvers and “mentshes” through an integrated secular and Judaic curriculum.

How did you develop the unit that you are sharing with us?
The mini-unit that I’m sharing is an integrated three-lesson unit I created during my summer at the Day School Novice Teachers’ Curriculum Workshop at Pardes. It was created for primary students – in my case, first graders, to integrate physical science standards and Parashat Beresheet. We launched the unit on Earth Day, and it tied into first grade’s theme of Teva. While I thoroughly enjoyed teaching this unit, I enjoyed just as much the process of creating it. It was an unbelievable learning experience! It was a totally collaborative effort. In Jerusalem, I worked in collaboration with my assistant principal, Hannah Bennett, and stateside, I worked with my mother, Denny, a middle school science teacher. I also made use of technology that was somewhat unfamilar to me. The lessons were created using SmartBoard’s Notebook software, and I used videos and resources available from Discovery Education’s streaming service.

samara frameSamara Hendin (Cohort 7)

I am privileged to have joined the faculty at the Jewish Community Day School in August 2009 after graduating from DeLeT. I teach fifth grade English, history, math, in addition to being the fifth grade Advisor. English and history are taught as a combined Humanities class where the content areas are intertwined and skills for both are combined.

Integration is an area of my teaching I have been thinking about more and more about as I’ve gotten more familiar with my curriculum. Perhaps the most prominent example of integration in my teaching is through my Humanities classes. Students write paragraphs about the maps they create during our geography unit, a research paper about the artifacts they create on Ancient Greece and an essay on Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry during our Civil Rights unit.

Liz CormanLiz Corman (Cohort 2)

Liz Corman Shiro is a cohort 2 alumna of DeLeT at Brandeis. Liz has been teaching K-1 Hebrew and Jewish studies at Kesher in Newton, Massachusetts for the last 6 years and will be the Director of Education at Temple Tifereth Israel in Malden, Massachusetts starting in mid-August.

As a Jewish Educator, my goal is to create opportunities for children to connect with their Judaism in a way that is meaningful to them.

Overall, School-age children receive a Jewish Education in one of two ways: by attending a Jewish Day School or by attending a Jewish Supplementary School, most often through their synagogue. It is generally accepted that students who attend a Jewish Day School will gain more Judaic and Hebrew knowledge than students who attend a supplementary school. I generally agree with this statement because of course there is more time to learn about Jewish studies and Hebrew at a day school than at a supplementary school, but the reality is most of school-age children in America will attend a supplementary school to receive their Jewish education.

Anna SalomonAnna Salomon (Brandeis Cohort 7)

What grades and content areas do you teach in?
I teach general studies for second and third grade at New Orleans Jewish Day School. In my general studies classroom, however, I manage to integrate Hebrew and Judaics whenever possible. Last year I taught in a third and fourth grade combined class. I try really hard to collaborate with each of the other teachers throughout the year as well.

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspects of teaching?
For me, the most rewarding aspects vary depending on the point of reference. With students, the most rewarding aspects of teaching are when students can’t wait to come to school – or they’re so excited about something they’re learning that the parents know all about it before I send a note home.

Sapphira FeinSapphira Fein (Cohort 1)

Sapphira Fein is the librarian/literacy specialist for the Lainer Library at Pressman Academy in Los Angeles. She shares the work that she does in this position and her perspective on that work in the following alumni profile:

“I conduct monthly performance-style storytelling for toddlers ages 4 and under. I read stories and introduce the library experience to pre-K through 1st grade on a weekly basis. I also teach weekly lessons to students in grades 2-5 in reading comprehension, author studies, library skills, non-fiction research, and other topics related to reading and writing.

Jamie Faith WoodsJamie Faith Woods (Cohort 1)

Jamie Faith Woods currently teaches fifth grade general studies at the Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island, in Providence, RI. She is a day school graduate herself and most days feels as if she were put on earth to teach fifth grade in a Jewish day school.

Jamie was a fellow during DeLeT’s pilot year and she still considers herself a proud member of cohort one (at Brandeis). This year marks Jamie’s first year as a DeLeT mentor, an endeavor that has taught her more than she expected.

Melissa Greenwood

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!

Devorah Servi

Devorah Servi (Cohort 7)

I’m in my second year at Ohr Eliyahu, an Orthodox school in Los Angeles, that is known for accepting students with learning and behavioral challenges. Early on, they had a policy that when such a student was admitted, the family needed to also enroll all other siblings in order to create a “mainstream” setting. Thus the school calls itself a “family school.” It’s also relevant to know that boys and girls learn in separate classrooms from kindergarten. It’s been interesting to think about how to modify lessons after the first presentation for the other gender!

Both last year and this, I’ve had the opportunity to teach math and Language Arts to elementary and middle school math classes. For the middle school math classes, a class of 19 or even a class of 9 is divided into 2 or 3 groups, each with its own teacher. The grouping allows us to differentiate instruction according to content, competence and aptitude.

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