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Posts Tagged ‘teachers’

The Power of a Teacher

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

I had just picked up my son from his first day of school, when this beautiful woman smiled at me, then at my children, and continued on her way. A flood of wonderful memories washed over me; this woman had been my first grade teacher. Now nearly a quarter of a century later, I still remember her and she remembered me. I remember where I sat in her class, and some of the things she had done, like bringing in eggs in an incubator so we could watch them hatch. I recall sitting in her class wanting to be just like her. She was a sweet, gentle, loving teacher who made each of her students feel special.

If we are lucky, during our lives, we will be graced by the presence of a few great teachers. These individuals shape our lives for the better because of the special way they choose to impart the lessons they want us to learn. A great teacher has many faces. She or he can be a teacher or professor in the classroom, but often is a relative, acquaintance, co-worker or neighbor. It makes no difference who they are, or what their profession is, but excellent teachers all have something in common: they infuse us with principles and understandings, hopes and dreams. And through these teachings, we are forever changed.

What makes a great school teacher? Extensive comprehension of a subject matter; passion, a kind approach, and a love of learning. In addition, knowledge of curriculum standards, methods of proper, effective discipline and classroom management techniques. But most importantly, a great teacher must have a strong desire to make a difference in the lives of his or her students.

There is no question that great teachers love to teach. They don’t take these jobs for the money, stature, or honor; they teach because it brings them an unbelievable feeling of satisfaction, knowing they are contributing positively to the futures of others.

Great teachers also understand that the mismatched, dirty-clothed child is the one who most needs the extra hug; that the child most difficult to have patience with, is the one most in need of help and love. Great teachers also understand the student who keeps calling out may be doing so because it is the only time she is being heard and requires a listening ear rather than a trip to the principal’s office. Great teachers also understand that just because a student is dressed to perfection every day, does not mean that her emotional needs are met. Great teachers know that given the right tools every student can succeed.

Working in the field of special education, I get to spend time in many different classrooms. This year, I spend many hours working in Morah N.’s classroom and there is so much I have learned from her. Her passion for teaching is incredible. She comes prepared with exciting materials, songs and crafts. However, what impresses me most is that despite my many hours in her classroom, I have no idea if she favors any one student over another. Each student, no matter what their last name, the type of home they come from, how prestigious they are in the community or how they are dressed, is treated lovingly and respectfully. And the students that need the extra hug-receive one.

The power of a teacher’s unwavering faith in her students is priceless. Without teachers, there would be no doctors, lawyers, scientist, or other teachers. They are the source of inspiration that passes from person to person.

Her name was Mrs. Fallon. Like many teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. However, Moshe made it difficult. He sat slumped in his front row-seat. He didn’t play with the other children, his clothes were messy and he constantly looked like he needed a bath. But looking through his records from previous years Mrs. Fallon was surprised to see what Moshe’s first grade teacher wrote: “Moshe is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners…he is a joy to be around.”

His second grade teacher wrote, “Moshe is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.”

His third grade teacher wrote, “His mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn’t show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren’t taken.”

Moshe’s fourth grade teacher wrote, “Moshe is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class.”

By now, Mrs. Fallon felt terrible, but wasn’t sure what to do.

Chanukah came and all the students brought in presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and fine paper – except for Moshe’s. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper of a grocery bag.

Yeshiva Toras Chaim/Dr. Abe Chames High School Hosts Open House

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

The Dr. Abe Chames High School of Yeshiva Toras Chaim/Toras Emes held its Annual Open House for prospective ninth grade talmidim and their parents on December 5. The open house provided an opportunity to meet the roshei yeshiva, principals, administrators, teachers, rebbeim and current students, as well as a chance to tour the facility and learn about the yeshiva’s Judaic and secular programs.

Prospective talmidim and their parents heard from the yeshiva’s rebbeim and teachers regarding curricular and goals. They also met with students, who conveyed what it’s really like to be a talmid at YTC.

Located at 1025 NE Miami Gardens Drive in the vibrant Jewish community of North Miami Beach, Yeshiva Toras Chaim is celebrating its 27th year of excellence in chinuch (Jewish education). For further information regarding the yeshiva and its programs, visit www.ytcteam.org or call the high school office at 305-944-5344. Inquiries may also be directed to ytc@ytcteam.org.

Florida Seminary Celebrates Decade of Training Future Shluchos

Monday, December 5th, 2011

The Chaya Aydel Seminary is celebrating its tenth year.  The school, in Hallandale Beach, Florida, is known around the world.

The intense program features twenty different teachers each week. The subjects range from in-depth chassidus to hands-on halacha, from educational psychology to teacher training. The seminary also features a unique opportunity to explore a wide selection of shlichus opportunities. These experiences include assisting in the organization of the Worlds’ Largest Chanukah Festival, the South Florida Lag B’omer Parade, Hebrew Homework Night in Florida for boys and girls, and weekly visits to nursing homes.

Principal Rabbi Yossy Lebovics points out that girls from over 20 countries have attended the Chaya Aydel Seminary. “The combination of an intense learning program, offered by the huge talent base of teachers in South Florida, and the interaction with the dynamic staff of Chabad of South Broward has contributed greatly to the success and popularity of our seminary.”

The seminary is named after the late Mrs Chaya Aydel Lebovics, a”h, a renowned and talented mechaneches from Montreal. Mrs. Lebovics was the mother of Rabbi Lebovics and older sister of Rabbi Raphael Tennenhaus, dean of the seminary and director of Chabad of South Broward.

For more information about the Chaya Aydel Seminary, please log on to chayaaydelsem.com , call 954-826-7979, or e-mail chayaaydelseminary.com. Registration for the 2012-2013 school year has begun.

Jack Of All Trades, Master Of None (Bechorot 29 a)

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

There are no problems in life, only expenses. The compensation for performing a mitzvah is the opportunity to perform another mitzvah. These two truisms often conflict because, like most everything else in life, the performance of mitzvot often requires funding.

On the one hand, we are told we should be like Moses, our teacher, who taught Torah for free. Like him, we should accept no money for teaching Torah. We are also told that a dayan, a judge should accept no money for adjudicating a case.

But teachers have to be paid, and judges have to be independent. How are we to fulfill one without violating the other?

Several answers have been provided throughout the ages.

As far as teachers go, a distinction is drawn between written Torah, Torah Shebichtav, and the Oral Torah, Torah She’be’al Peh. Teaching young children to read Hebrew requires more than teaching Torah. It requires a certain amount of childcare to make sure they are looked after during school hours. Whereas one may not be compensated for teaching Torah, one may be compensated for childcare. However, as for Torah She’ba’al Peh, which is not taught to small children, but rather to older children who require no childcare, no compensation should be taken.

Another answer relies on the distinction between compensation and indemnification. Whereas one may not be compensated for teaching Torah or adjudicating cases, one may be indemnified for the money one could have earned had one’s time not been monopolized with the demands of teaching or adjudication.

Thus Karna, the judge who earned his living as a wine taster, would accede to the demands of litigants and adjudicate their disputes as long as he was indemnified for his lost wages. Similarly, Rav Huna, the judge and farmer, would request to be indemnified for the extra expense incurred in hiring irrigators to water his fields while he sat in judgment. Both parties to the litigation, irrespective of who would eventually win or lose, indemnified these two judges equally. This indemnification payment is referred to in halacha as sechar betailah.

But what if the demands are so pervasive on teachers and judges that they have no time to pursue any other remunerative activity?

Take the case of Ayala, the scholar and veterinarian, who was so inundated with requests to examine the blemishes of firstborn animals in order to determine whether these blemishes freed the animals them from their hekdesh status that he had no time for any other occupation. And what about a Torah teacher who instructs all day, every day? How can one compute the amount each has lost by not being able to engage in another occupation when judicial or teaching responsibilities do not even leave time to look for another occupation, let alone engage in one?

For judges, the recognition that the community must foot the bill has solved the dilemma. Accordingly, the Jerusalem judges of old would draw their salary from the Temple treasury, which was funded by the payment of half Shekels imposed on the community. Thus, even though the payment was by way of compensation and not by way of indemnification, the halacha permitted it. The Rosh justifies this halacha in graphic terms: “The judges were entirely caught up adjudicating and had no time for any other activities. They could not be expected to die of hunger. They required a living wage.”

The same is true for Torah teachers. In an ideal world, says the Shach, it would be great if one could juggle the responsibilities of a business or profession with the need and responsibility to teach Torah. But in a practical world, the inevitable result will be that Torah will suffer and be forgotten. Accordingly, even if the strict letter of the halacha does not permit one to draw compensation for teaching Torah, the survival of the Torah depends on it. Where the very body of religious observance is threatened, the rabbis have the authority to temporarily suspend the application of a law in the spirit of “Et la’asot l’ashem, heferu Toratechah.”

In dealing with the subject of public funding of Torah scholars in higher institutes of learning, Rav Moshe Feinstein lays it out very candidly. “Those who would prohibit communal funding of houses of learning may well be motivated by an evil inclination to give business priority over Torah. Ultimately, they will forget all the Torah they ever learned. For if the great scholars of old were of the opinion that one cannot hone one’s professional Torah skills and hold down an occupation at the same time, it would be most presumptuous for our Torah impoverished generation to claim that one can.”

Raphael Grunfeld’s book “Ner Eyal on Seder Moed” (distributed by Mesorah) is available at OU.org and your local Judaica bookstore. His new book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Nashim & Nezikin,” will be available shortly.

You Are Your Child’s Best Advocate

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

When you have a child with special needs, whether it be medical or developmental, you are very familiar with signing those lengthy privacy practice information sheets. At some point we don’t even bother reading them because we know that once you have a child with special needs, nothing is ever private. Every professional has an opinion. Still, the ultimate decision is up to you.


I was always very conscious of being polite to every doctor that my daughter has ever seen. From very long hospital stays with rotating residents and attendings to a gastroenterologist, pulmonologist, cardiologist, endocrinologist, neurologist, ENT, radiologist, psychologist and on and on, I had to listen to the recommendations from all of these doctors regarding the care of my daughter. This can be very overwhelming for anyone.


I can recall one time about six months ago, when Eliana was admitted to the hospital because she needed IV fluids. At that point she did not have a central IV line since she was much younger. Putting an IV in her was very traumatic and very rarely successful.


In walks an overconfident resident who thinks that she can get an IV in Eliana’s small veins on the first try. I knew that medically she really needed to have this done and it broke my heart to have to hold her down. After Eliana spent about ten minutes screaming and thrashing around, the resident said to her, “Eliana, if you don’t cooperate with me, you might have to stay here for a month!” Had my ears deceived me? Did I really just hear this doctor threaten my daughter, who spent over a year in the hospital at one point? I felt the steam slowly rising to my ears. It was at that exact instant that I realized that I had the power to stop this doctor in her tracks.


I calmly said, “That’s it. You are done. Please don’t ever come back into this room.” I proceeded to speak to her superiors and told them that if this is how she is going to be with children who are sick, then she is in the wrong profession.


For weeks I had visions of seeing this doctor roaming the halls where I would have the opportunity to give her a real piece of my mind. I began to recall all the times a doctor had made a decision or comment that I didn’t agree with. How many times had I let Eliana suffer needlessly because of my inadequacy in dealing with doctors?


I resolved to myself that what was done was done. But what had I learned? I learned that I am my child’s best advocate. This applies to everything from doctor visits to school conferences. I knew that I had grown when a teacher told me that she was trying to “toughen Eliana up” because she would cry when she got bumped. I replied, “I know you mean well, but Eliana needs no more toughening up. Eliana has gone through more painful medical procedures than 20 people do in a lifetime. She needs you to listen to her when she says something hurts.”


All of my children receive the same type of advocacy, whether they have extra needs or not, and I still make mistakes. Parenting is a learning process.


Here are some tips on effective ways to advocate for your child:


Be proactive and educate yourself on what his/her needs are.


Always come to appointments prepared with questions.


Know that you can question anything a professional recommends for your child.


Keep adequate records of medications, appointments and phone calls.


If your child has a diagnosis of some sort, it is not helpful to keep it secret from your child’s teachers because they spend many hours a day with your child.


If your child is on a medication that may affect behavior in school, it can only benefit your child if the teacher knows. This way, if your child begins behaving differently, the teacher can keep track and be her advocate, too.


Learn from mistakes.

You Are Your Child’s Best Advocate

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

When you have a child with special needs, whether it be medical or developmental, you are very familiar with signing those lengthy privacy practice information sheets. At some point we don’t even bother reading them because we know that once you have a child with special needs, nothing is ever private. Every professional has an opinion. Still, the ultimate decision is up to you.


I was always very conscious of being polite to every doctor that my daughter has ever seen. From very long hospital stays with rotating residents and attendings to a gastroenterologist, pulmonologist, cardiologist, endocrinologist, neurologist, ENT, radiologist, psychologist and on and on, I had to listen to the recommendations from all of these doctors regarding the care of my daughter. This can be very overwhelming for anyone.


I can recall one time about six months ago, when Eliana was admitted to the hospital because she needed IV fluids. At that point she did not have a central IV line since she was much younger. Putting an IV in her was very traumatic and very rarely successful.


In walks an overconfident resident who thinks that she can get an IV in Eliana’s small veins on the first try. I knew that medically she really needed to have this done and it broke my heart to have to hold her down. After Eliana spent about ten minutes screaming and thrashing around, the resident said to her, “Eliana, if you don’t cooperate with me, you might have to stay here for a month!” Had my ears deceived me? Did I really just hear this doctor threaten my daughter, who spent over a year in the hospital at one point? I felt the steam slowly rising to my ears. It was at that exact instant that I realized that I had the power to stop this doctor in her tracks.


I calmly said, “That’s it. You are done. Please don’t ever come back into this room.” I proceeded to speak to her superiors and told them that if this is how she is going to be with children who are sick, then she is in the wrong profession.


For weeks I had visions of seeing this doctor roaming the halls where I would have the opportunity to give her a real piece of my mind. I began to recall all the times a doctor had made a decision or comment that I didn’t agree with. How many times had I let Eliana suffer needlessly because of my inadequacy in dealing with doctors?


I resolved to myself that what was done was done. But what had I learned? I learned that I am my child’s best advocate. This applies to everything from doctor visits to school conferences. I knew that I had grown when a teacher told me that she was trying to “toughen Eliana up” because she would cry when she got bumped. I replied, “I know you mean well, but Eliana needs no more toughening up. Eliana has gone through more painful medical procedures than 20 people do in a lifetime. She needs you to listen to her when she says something hurts.”


All of my children receive the same type of advocacy, whether they have extra needs or not, and I still make mistakes. Parenting is a learning process.


Here are some tips on effective ways to advocate for your child:


Be proactive and educate yourself on what his/her needs are.


Always come to appointments prepared with questions.


Know that you can question anything a professional recommends for your child.


Keep adequate records of medications, appointments and phone calls.


If your child has a diagnosis of some sort, it is not helpful to keep it secret from your child’s teachers because they spend many hours a day with your child.


If your child is on a medication that may affect behavior in school, it can only benefit your child if the teacher knows. This way, if your child begins behaving differently, the teacher can keep track and be her advocate, too.


Learn from mistakes.

You Are Your Child’s Best Advocate

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

When you have a child with special needs, whether it be medical or developmental, you are very familiar with signing those lengthy privacy practice information sheets. At some point we don’t even bother reading them because we know that once you have a child with special needs, nothing is ever private. Every professional has an opinion. Still, the ultimate decision is up to you.


I was always very conscious of being polite to every doctor that my daughter has ever seen. From very long hospital stays with rotating residents and attendings to a gastroenterologist, pulmonologist, cardiologist, endocrinologist, neurologist, ENT, radiologist, psychologist and on and on, I had to listen to the recommendations from all of these doctors regarding the care of my daughter. This can be very overwhelming for anyone.


I can recall one time about six months ago, when Eliana was admitted to the hospital because she needed IV fluids. At that point she did not have a central IV line since she was much younger. Putting an IV in her was very traumatic and very rarely successful.


In walks an overconfident resident who thinks that she can get an IV in Eliana’s small veins on the first try. I knew that medically she really needed to have this done and it broke my heart to have to hold her down. After Eliana spent about ten minutes screaming and thrashing around, the resident said to her, “Eliana, if you don’t cooperate with me, you might have to stay here for a month!” Had my ears deceived me? Did I really just hear this doctor threaten my daughter, who spent over a year in the hospital at one point? I felt the steam slowly rising to my ears. It was at that exact instant that I realized that I had the power to stop this doctor in her tracks.


I calmly said, “That’s it. You are done. Please don’t ever come back into this room.” I proceeded to speak to her superiors and told them that if this is how she is going to be with children who are sick, then she is in the wrong profession.


For weeks I had visions of seeing this doctor roaming the halls where I would have the opportunity to give her a real piece of my mind. I began to recall all the times a doctor had made a decision or comment that I didn’t agree with. How many times had I let Eliana suffer needlessly because of my inadequacy in dealing with doctors?


I resolved to myself that what was done was done. But what had I learned? I learned that I am my child’s best advocate. This applies to everything from doctor visits to school conferences. I knew that I had grown when a teacher told me that she was trying to “toughen Eliana up” because she would cry when she got bumped. I replied, “I know you mean well, but Eliana needs no more toughening up. Eliana has gone through more painful medical procedures than 20 people do in a lifetime. She needs you to listen to her when she says something hurts.”


All of my children receive the same type of advocacy, whether they have extra needs or not, and I still make mistakes. Parenting is a learning process.


Here are some tips on effective ways to advocate for your child:


Be proactive and educate yourself on what his/her needs are.


Always come to appointments prepared with questions.


Know that you can question anything a professional recommends for your child.


Keep adequate records of medications, appointments and phone calls.


If your child has a diagnosis of some sort, it is not helpful to keep it secret from your child’s teachers because they spend many hours a day with your child.


If your child is on a medication that may affect behavior in school, it can only benefit your child if the teacher knows. This way, if your child begins behaving differently, the teacher can keep track and be her advocate, too.


Learn from mistakes.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/potpourri/you-are-your-childs-best-advocate-4/2011/10/09/

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