What to do about kids who just don’t cut the grade in school? How can we save them from falling through the cracks in classrooms that may have less than the ideal teacher-student ratio?
These and other questions will be raised at the second annual Summer Educators Conference for Women, this July 6-7. Announced by the Chabad-Lubavitch Chinuch Office, the theme of the Conference, “Reaching All Our Children,” will explore successful techniques and theories of education that speak to this objective. “Jewish educators, especially those teaching in Chabad, see their work as being far more than a career,” observes Mrs. Pearl Stroh, director of Chabad’s Early Learning Center on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. “For most of them, it’s a calling, requiring a lifetime of energy, dedication and enthusiasm for a task that is really monumental.” It also requires networking, and a forum where Chabad educators can meet and learn–with and from each other.
Stroh is on the coordinating committee of a new forum designed to fill that need. The two-day conference will feature lectures, workshops and seminars on a wide range of topics, covering everything from classroom techniques to personnel management. An active participant at last summer’s inaugural conference, she says the two days are an “intensive and uplifting” experience for educators, providing them a much appreciated opportunity to explore issues and concerns that relate directly to the challenges of educating Jewish children in the 21st century.
Initial responses to the Conference are coming in fast, and is expected to draw some 200 women educators from as far away as Australia to the Robert Treat Conference Center in Newark, N.J. “This is a conference by educators, for educators,” says Rabbi Nochem Kaplan, director of the Chinuch Office-Association of Chabad Educators that coordinates the annual event. “It is uniquely tailored to suit participants’ needs.”
This year’s program will feature a much expanded resource-materials fair, and more compartmentalized workshops along three separate tracks: preschool, elementary, and high school, in addition to separate sessions for principals. Kaplan says a highlight of the conference will be a full day of workshops and lectures by Dr. Mel Levine, a world renowned trailblazer in current theories in education. A former pediatrician, Levine examines learning difficulties from a neurological perspective, breaking down learning difficulties into easily manageable components—making for “an entirely new approach to teaching,” says Mrs. Shiffy Landa of St. Louis, another member of the coordinating team and an educator who has incorporated Levine’s methods in her work. Levine’s theory, known as “All Kinds of Minds,” is a way of ensuring the success of every child in the classroom, she says, noting that for Chabad educators, this has particular relevance.
“When the subject matter is Torah and Judaism, there’s an element of urgency in learning to teach more effectively,” she says, “The stakes are too high to lose any students.”