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Addressing the Jewish Day school teacher shortage

June 14, 2022

By Nina Bruder and Fayge Safran Novogroder

Over the past several months, an important conversation has begun about the growing Jewish day school teacher shortage crisis. The conversation was kicked off last summer by CASJE’s seminal report on what it takes to launch and maintain a career in Jewish education, followed by opinion pieces in eJewish Philanthropy (e.g., here and here), The Lookstein Center’s blog and much discussion at the recent Jewish Education Innovation Challenge’s Innovator Retreat ‘22 and the Prizmah Investors Summit.

A plethora of important and relevant information emerged in response to the overarching question: “What does it take to attract, train and keep Jewish educators?” The CASJE study found a number of factors that deter both the entry and staying power of Jewish educators. These include low pay, inadequate benefits and a lack of professional development. Another factor is the lack of communal respect for the profession.  

Addressing the Jewish Day school teacher shortage

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After almost 20 years of partnering with over 220 Jewish day schools and more than 2,200 new teachers, veteran teachers and new administrators of all denominations and types across the country, we wholeheartedly agree with the absolute necessity of raising the level of professionalism – and the perception of professionalism and status – in Jewish day school education.

This begins with standards of best practice. It includes substantive professional training and induction. It means creating professional networks for peer learning and support. And it means continued investment in professional development and growth, at all levels of the field. It also requires community leaders to publicly praise and show respect to the teachers in the community. And it is essential that parents speak respectfully to and about their children’s’ teachers, especially in front of their children.

Jewish New Teacher Project of New Teacher Center supports incoming new teachers and administrators during their first critical years in their roles. In all subjects, all grades and across all denominations, JNTP provides these educators with the resources and benchmarks of good practice, and with access to a coach who will guide them, observe their work, and offer honest feedback. As our new teachers become mentors, our mentors become administrators and our administrators become Heads of Schools, they carry with them the professional training and essential internalized message that Jewish education is, indeed, a respected and professional profession.

Importantly, the impact of such support on the retention of educators is significant. Of new teachers mentored through JNTP between 2014-2019, 86% were still in the field of Jewish education at the end of that time period, 83% were still working in Jewish day schools and 72% were still in the same school they were in when they began our program. This is in comparison to the sobering public school statistic that, pre-pandemic, up to 45% of new teachers left the profession within the first five years. We know that educators have been amongst the most negatively impacted professions during the pandemic, which only contributes further to the day school teacher shortage.

Many factors go into attracting and retaining vibrant, creative, enthusiastic, empathic and knowledgeable people who love children and have a passion for teaching. Imagine if all Jewish day schools altered their hiring and retention criteria and expectations to include professional training, standards of practice and ongoing support, especially for those entering the field or taking on new roles. Our schools would be models for professional respect, learning and growth. Our teachers would thrive, and perhaps our children would be inspired to grow up and join the next generation of professional Jewish educators. 

Addressing the Jewish Day school teacher shortage
https://ejewishphilanthropy.com/addressing-the-jewish-day-school-teacher-shortage/?fbclid=IwAR1zB3PSFnZErAsKnzK3SKVs1K4-qCge4Gf0Df4M_0Jgd322yYjmvEm51XI

Judith Talesnick

Program Consultant

Lisa Peloquin

Senior Instructional Designer and Coach

Lisa Peloquin is a Senior Instructional Designer and Coach at JNTP, where she focuses on content development and materials preparation for JNTP’s Early Childhood and Administrator Support Programs.. Lisa holds a B.A. in Psychology, with a concentration in child development, from Penn State and a Masters in Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is currently working on her Ph.D. in community psychology, with a research interest in understanding how school communities can impact educational equity. Lisa can be reached at lpeloquin@newteachercenter.org.

Tavi Koslowe

Program Consultant

Rabbi Tavi Koslowe is a Program Consultant at JNTP, where he provides coaching to early career administrators through the Administrator Support Program. Tavi has been a teacher and educational leader for the last twenty years in lower, middle, and high school settings. He is currently serving as the High School Dean at the Leffell School in Westchester, NY and the co-director of The Idea Institute, where he supports teachers, administrators, and school leaders in furthering educational practice in Project Based Learning. Most recently, Tavi served as the Judaic Studies Principal of The Idea School in Tenafly, NJ and has held other school leadership positions at the Ramaz School in Manhattan, NY and Yeshivat Noam in Paramus, NJ. Tavi participated in JNTP’s Teacher Induction and Administrator Support Programs. He can be reached at tkoslowe@newteachercenter.org.

Eva Broder

Program Consultant

Eva is a Program Consultant for JNTP, where she facilitates professional development training for early childhood mentors. Eva has served as a teacher in private schools throughout the NY area for over 15 years. During this time, she has provided support as a teacher mentor, working with individuals and groups to enhance their teaching practice, and has facilitated and trained teachers in the use of Professional Learning Communities. Eva currently works as a School Consultant for Professional Development at the Hebrew Academy of Long Beach (HALB). She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Yeshiva University and an M.S. in Special and General Education from Bank Street College. Eva trained as a mentor with JNTP in 2017-18. She can be reached at ebroder@newteachercenter.org.

Evan Weiner

Associate Program Consultant

Evan Weiner is an Associate Program Consultant at JNTP, where he facilitates mentor training. He has been involved with Jewish Education for over 20 years. Evan began his connection with JNTP as a new teacher and eventually became a mentor himself, mentoring teachers in both General and Judaic Studies departments. He has been an educational leader in both formal and informal educational settings, and has brought his JNTP training to elicit the best in his staff partners. Most recently, Evan served as Judaic Studies Principal, Curriculum Coordinator, and Instructional Coach at Ohr Chadash Academy in Baltimore before joining the JNTP staff. Evan participated in the YOU Lead Educational Leadership Program and JETSIsrael Edtech Incubator Program, and he holds an M.Ed. from Azrieli School of Education. Evan can be reached at eweiner@newteachercenter.org.

Rachel R. Harari

Associate Program Consultant

Rachel Harari is an Associate Program Consultant at JNTP, where she co-facilitates new teacher training. She is also an Associate Lecturer at Columbia University and a middle school English Language Arts teacher at Yeshivah of Flatbush. Rachel is currently working on her PhD at Teachers College, Columbia University, within their Educational Leadership program. Through her work as a Department Chair for six years at Magen David Yeshivah High School in Brooklyn, New York, Rachel was inspired to study the role of the high school department chair in Modern Orthodox schools in New York City. Rachel received her M.S. in Special Education from Brooklyn College, and her B.S. in English Education from New York University, where she published her research on mathematics anxiety in elementary school students: “Mathematics Anxiety in Young Children: An Exploratory Study.” Rachel is a 2016 recipient of The Covenant Foundation’s Pomegranate Prize, which recognizes emerging leaders in the field of Jewish Education.

Lauren Katz

Director of Development

Lauren Katz is JNTP’s Director of Development, where she oversees the organization’s fundraising efforts and marketing and communications initiatives in an effort to advance JNTP’s mission and strategic goals. Lauren’s portfolio includes strategic planning, donor cultivation, engagement, and gift acquisition. She has an extensive background in Jewish non-profit management with a specific focus on fundraising and development, most recently serving as the Director of Marketing & Communications and Alumni Relations at SAR High School for over four years and at the Ramaz School for seven years as the Director of Alumni Relations. In addition, Lauren worked at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and UJA-Federation of MetroWest, NJ in the campaign and planning and allocations departments. Lauren holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Michigan and attended the University of Michigan School of Social Work and Jewish Communal Leadership Program. Lauren can be reached at lkatz@newteachercenter.org.