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YU News

Azrieli Teacher Fellowships Serve as a Pipeline for Jewish Education Across North America

Jan 16, 2009 -- Two new teaching fellowships offered by the Institute for University-School Partnership at Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration aim to increase the number of qualified Jewish educators, particularly outside the New York tri-state area, by enabling recent graduates to combine their studies with placements in schools.

“Our fellowships serve as a portal for more of our dynamic and dedicated youth to serve the Jewish community while providing the training and professional and personal mentoring required to become the most qualified educators we need,” Dr. Scott J. Goldberg, director of the Institute, said.

Participants in the Teacher Training Fellowship are placed at a day school for two years while studying for a master’s degree at Azrieli over three consecutive summers. The fellowship provides them with an onsite mentor, a professional development stipend and Yeshiva University-sponsored educational conferences.

When English major and honors student Adina Kastner graduated from Stern College for Women last May, she jumped at the opportunity to become a high school teacher through the Teacher Training Fellowship.

“I work with professionals who care about me and what I do,” said Kastner, who teaches Jewish history at Ida Crown Hebrew Academy in Chicago.

“They see my role in the school and in the community as important and they treat it as such,” said the Stern grad, who excelled in the college’s honors program. “I learn from these educators’ example and implement their innovative techniques in my own classroom.”

Joey Small, a project coordinator at the Institute, called the fellowship “a pipeline for future Jewish educators, and a support system for new teachers during their first years teaching.”

Small founded the Give-Back Fellowship, which enables recent graduates to return to their old Jewish day schools to teach. He modeled it after his own experience after college, when he returned to teach at YULA (Yeshiva University High Schools of Los Angeles), his alma mater. His positive experience made him want to offer similar opportunities to college graduates nationwide in a more formalized way.

Sam Ross, a 2008 Yeshiva College graduate, is now following in Small’s footsteps as he returns to YULA as a Give-Back Fellow to work as the student activities coordinator for a year before starting medical school.

“I felt I could give more to a school that I already had a relationship with,” Ross said. “Also, I wanted to give back to an institution that gave so much to me as a student.”

While Ross aspires to become a doctor, he plans to stay involved in informal Jewish education. “I hope this year will give me a better idea of how I will fit that into my life,” he said.

The Give-Back Fellowship includes a summer training program at the institute, a designated mentor on site, a professional development stipend and professional development conferences run by YU.

Perhaps the ultimate reward for the fellows is seeing their students learn. Ephraim Iliagouev, an accounting graduate from Sy Syms School of Business who teaches fifth and sixth grade Chumash (Bible) and Navi (prophets) at Margolin Hebrew Academy in Memphis, Tennessee, summed it up: “When you hear a student talk during recess or lunch about the subjects you taught, you know that it reached the essence of their soul.”

Both the Teacher Training Fellowship and the Give-Back Fellowship are open to students from all colleges. Click here for more information or to apply.