Appreciating Our Teachers

DSC 0165With Shavuot rapidly approaching, Passover and its seders may already feel rather distant. Nevertheless—as May is Makor’s teacher appreciation month—I can’t help but consider one of the latter holiday’s most intriguing educational insights.

During our seders, we discuss the infamous “four sons.” These sons are well-established archetypes in Jewish lore; and yet, the Haggadah does not merely mean to tell us about four particular varieties of children. Instead, the Haggadah—and the Jewish tradition that created and preserved this narrative—wish to emphasize the reality that a parent or instructor must tailor a child’s educational program to his or her specific needs, no matter what they may be.

From the “four sons” paradigm, we are meant to discover that whether we are faced with a pupil who is 1) young and simple, 2) mature and smart, 3) too young even to know what is going on, or even 4) downright wicked, we can find ways to succeed as teachers. The idea that neither age nor intellectual aptitude, in either great excess or deficit, is an excuse for a teacher to fail a student ought to be empowering to educators.

The “four sons” model makes us think about how each student has a special ability to learn and grow in his or her own individual ways. Importantly, it helps to prevent us from becoming overly reliant on what any educator, student, or parent knows to be a dangerous crutch in education: The assumption that all students must be forced to conform their learning experience to some arbitrary, one-size-fits-all, common denominator.

With those thoughts prominently on my mind, I would like to CALL OUT to everyone, to announce that on Friday, May 12th, we will hold our Teacher Recognition Service. This is a Shabbat service specifically meant to praise the hard work of roughly two-dozen members of Temple Beth Or, those who have served as the backbone of our school, over the past year. It is an evening when I hope members of our synagogue—whether they have children in Makor or not—can come together to thank those who made the past year of education possible.

I believe (and I hope you agree!) that—while Makor may seem “invisible” if you have no school-aged kids—the synagogue would be incomplete without its programs for youth education. As such, it certainly is worthwhile for us to take at least an evening in the year to thank such individuals in our community for their contribution to Temple Beth Or. Additionally, all the more so this year as our teachers worked extra hard to adjust from our old Sunday school model to Makor, I think it important to deliberately take the time to thank them for everything that they do.

If you see any of the following people around in the next month, please join me in giving them a pat on the back for their hard work in making Makor possible. And, please, join us at the Teacher Recognition Service on the 12th!


Preschool/Kindergarten:          H.R. Downey and Sarah Wolf-Knight

First thru Third Grades:           Lisa Marie Ewing, Renee Peery, and Sarah White

Fourth thru Sixth Grades:        Jay Weiss

High School:                          Deb Char, Rabbi Judy Chessin, and Barb Mendoza

Seventh and Eighth Grades:   Scott Beckerman and Annette Nathan

Art:                                       Jessica Simpson

Cooking:                                Rachel Dillon and Esther Weiss

Hebrew:                                 Ehud Borovoy, Teri Halasz, and Renee Peery

Mizmor Or:                            Mary Wyke

Music:                                   Grant Halasz and Jonah Simpson

Sports:                                   Scott Hochstein and Heath Gilbert