“We are planting seeds — not me, but all of us.” With those words of hope offered to her fellow teachers, Lidia Turner, a seventh- and eighth-grade Hebrew teacher at the David Saperstein Middle School of Milken Community High School, accepted the Milken Family Foundation’s 2012 Jewish Educator Award during an assembly at her school on Sept. 21.
It’s a hard-knock life for teachers, who are trying their darnedest to teach children amid decreased attention spans, increased technological gadgets, fewer resources, job insecurity and myriad other challenges.
For nearly 30 years, Los Angeles secondary-school educators have attended the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) annual Holocaust Education Workshop as part of their professional development. During the month-long series, L.A.-area teachers learned the history of anti-Semitism, listened to survivors’ firsthand stories and visited local Holocaust institutions, leaving them better equipped to teach the Holocaust to their students.
During her first week as a seventh-grade English teacher, Anna Taggert discovers her colleague, Randi Abrahams, at Starbucks writing a paper for one of her students, while the kid sips his peppermint mocha and texts his friends. The most popular English teacher in the school, Abrahams dresses like a fashionista on the $250 an hour she earns moonlighting as a tutor.
The American Library Association got more than 400 requests to ban books last year. But most of those requests were unsuccessful, because of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other people who make sure books stay on shelves.
It's a scene straight out of the worst-case scenario parent handbook. Our child -- a normally happy student -- lands the "Teacher From the Black Lagoon." She's evil, he tells us shaking in his Air Jordans. Not to mention out to get him. How can he possibly be expected to learn when his teacher is the scholastic version of Attila the Hun?
Five brief pieces, on the following: Shalhevet School's recent winning streak, Camp Ramah's new solar panels, a five-day summer workshop that shows teachers how to use studying the holocaust to teach morality, an opportunity to serve abroad as part of the "Jewish Peace Corps," and a recent Prejudice Awareness Summit at the University of Judaism.
A leading contender in next week's L.A. school board race is at odds with USC and UCLA over his academic standing, the latest in a series of uncomfortable disclosures for Christopher Arellano.
Once upon a time, children didn't step into a classroom until kindergarten. There, 5-year-olds got their first real introduction to ABCs and 123s, colors and shapes and how to share and take turns.
In November 2003, California voters recalled Gov. Gray Davis and replaced him with Arnold Schwarzenegger. White voters backed the recall by a large margin, but Jewish voters swam against the tide, with 69 percent voting against the recall. On the second part of the ballot, where voters chose a replacement candidate, Schwarzenegger collected a surprising 31 percent of Jewish voters.
I suggested then in these pages that Schwarzenegger might eventually do well with Jews: "Jewish voters aren't likely to abandon the Democratic Party anytime soon, but will likely give Arnold Schwarzenegger a chance to prove that he can govern in a bipartisan, moderate manner.... If Schwarzenegger truly seeks to solve the state's problems without being a tool of right-wing forces, and with an open-minded, progressive approach, he may find a surprising number of friends among California's Democratic-leaning Jewish voters."
Chance given, chance blown.
This month's Political Journal is a tale of two labor disputes. One is dragging on and on; the other has come to a peaceful conclusion just when it seemed there might be a strike ahead.
Several times during my visit with Rabbi Karmi Gross at Maimonides Academy, coaches and kids came to pull balls out of the corner of his tiny office in a prefab building smack in the middle of the schoolyard.
Often I find myself staring at walls or lying on my bed staring at the ceiling, blank-minded. But I am not one who has the luxury to be blank-minded. There is too much to do -- not by will, but by force.
It was the first day of preschool and 2-year-old Jessica didn't know any of other children in her new class at B'nai Tikvah Congregation Nursery School. But the child's anxiety paled in comparison that of her mother.
Jewish educators hope one of the largest gifts ever for Jewish education in America will prompt other philanthropists to follow suit.
"We didn't have the resources and knowledge of how Israel has been changing according to the international arena," said Jewish-day-school teacher Ziva London on a break between sessions at an Israel teacher education workshop at the University of Judaism (UJ).
When John Fitzsimons traveled to Israel this spring, he spent a week away from his students at Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance, but as the Catholic teacher said, "They did announcements over the intercom every morning about where I was and what I was doing that day."
"We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."
Joseph Kanfer deftly wrapped wires and affixed pieces of material to a truncated test tube. Then he glued the Hebrew letter "shin" to the creation, producing a mezuzah.
While the Los Angeles community has it share of rabbis and teachers who can teach a great class or two, there is always an allure of having someone come in from overseas as a special guest speaker. But now, airplanes are no longer necessary to get an overseas speaker to talk in Los Angeles.
Two bills pertaining to the Holocaust era, one creating a state center for Holocaust study, the other extending the deadline for claims to recover artworks, were passed by the Legislature last week.
Incense burned, rose petals fluttered, Persian entrees simmered and Persian slippers were sewn. That was the scene at University Synagogue as congregants re-enacted Queen Esther's wedding during this year's Purim celebration. The event was the trademark approach of director Heidi Jo Kahn, whose approach to religious school teaching is a blur of sensory stimulation.
"I know everyone learns in a different w
After teaching in a Northern California religious school for four years, Jen Wakefield thought she knew everything there was to know about teaching Torah to religious school students.
Eight-year-old Tamar's fingers dance across a set of harp strings like small waves rhythmically pounding the surf. While the large instrument dwarfs her, she doesn't seem to mind as she sits and plays a complicated classical tune. After the musical interlude, she hops onto her living room couch; her shiny dark hair bounces as she moves. Her bright smile reveals a missing front tooth with its adult counterpart just barely poking through.
"Promises" is a beautiful documentary and, in light of the daily body count of Israeli and Palestinian victims, a heartbreaking film. Considered a favorite for best documentary at this year's Academy Awards, "Promises" was filmed in and around Jerusalem between 1997 and 2000, while the Oslo treaty hopes for peace were still flickering.
Jews have long understood the importance of study both as a religious activity and as the passageway to a shared culture. American Jews are waking up to how important it is to give their children a solid Jewish education so that they can choose the part they will play in the future of our people. The problem is that our educational systems are having a hard time keeping up, basically because we don't have enough good teachers for our day schools or for our congregational schools, where the majority of our children are formally trained in our heritage.
Public schools remain a central part of civic life, the linchpin through which the middle class remains committed to the city. On June 5, Westside/Valley voters have the opportunity to bring fresh ideas to the board. I am endorsing Marlene Canter for District 4.
Aviva Kadosh, who serves the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Los Angeles (BJE) as a specialist in religious schools and Hebrew-language programs, has been an educator for 34 years.
After a combined total of 69 years in the education field, gifted teachers Dr. George and Aviva Lebovitz have chosen to retire.
Next week's reopening of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust at its new location on Museum Row coincides with a string of events that will commemorate Yom HaShoah.
Marcy Goldberg, director of education at Temple Aliyah of Woodland Hills, sums up the obvious fact about religious schools: For children and their parents, a school is "only as good as the teacher they have that year."