Several weeks ago, Hillel Day School parents participated in a parent satisfaction survey. The school was one of 75 Jewish schools across the country with 22,000 parents participating. The school’s responses are compared to the other schools, as well as to the comparable data compiled over the past few years. In response to the statement, “My son/daughter has strong role models among (or relationships with) the school faculty”, the Hillel faculty received the highest percentage in the “strongly agree” column of all the schools! The faculty and their commitment to the students and to the school’s mission and core values are never-ending. The interpersonal relationships they create with the students are nothing less than awe-inspiring.
Here is an example that epitomizes the way the teachers care and build relationships with the Hillel students. Hillel parent Karen Rosenberg created The First Grade Mother-Daughter Book Club. At their inaugural meeting, first grade teachers Gail Dvorkin, Carol Fridson, and Randi Cooperman surprised the girls and joined the group on their free Sunday. Obviously, the girls were overjoyed. The group read The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes (librarian Joan Freedman provided invaluable insight into how best to facilitate this discussion beforehand). Not only did the book provide meaningful conversation, the girls were comfortable expressing their thoughts and opinions with their moms, friends, and teachers. Many brought a copy of the book and learned from Mrs. Dvorkin how to place sticky-notes in parts of the book that made them “stop and think.” The teachers enjoyed their time so much that they returned for the second book club meeting last week.
At Hillel, student/teacher relationships are unique. They offer students a sense of safety and security that supports them through developmental challenges. When children “internalize” their teachers as reliable sources of support, they are more successful at overcoming challenges. Students with close teacher relationships have been shown to be more engaged in classroom activities, have better attitudes about school, and demonstrate better academic performance
It is not every teacher who would spend their free-time with students, but at Hillel it is not at all uncommon. If it were not for Shabbat (Sabbath, day of rest), these teachers would be available 24/7. Yet, there are teachers who have offered to meet children at parks on Shabbat to read storiesJ. In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week (May 7 – 11), we thank the Hillel teachers for being so available and devoted to their students and for creating bonds that will last a lifetime.
(1)Birch, S. H., & Ladd, G. W. (1997). The teacher-child relationship and children's early school adjustment.Journal of School Psychology, 35, 61-79.
For more information about Hillel Day School, contact Amy Schlussel, Director of Admission, at email@example.com or 248-539-1484.