Heather Welkes, principal
On the last day of religious school, the students threw water balloons at the Rabbi and myself. Believe it or not, I encouraged it. Why? Because I will do anything and everything to make learning fun, and so this year, the students who completed their Hebrew reading charts were handed water balloons and the Rabbi and I were targets.
My philosophy of education centers around the idea that if I don’t want to be in religious school, then the kids don’t either, and so I will always strive to teach in a way that gets the students excited.
What does that look like exactly?
It looks like playing twister but using Hebrew vocabulary to reinforce body parts. It looks like scavenger hunts or filming videos or creating jewelry. It looks like a field trip to the farm to do Torah study and then brushing horses and feeding chickens while learning about tsa'ar ba'alei hayim, the ethical treatment of animals.
It tastes like sorting m&m’s to review colors or using oreos to create moon cycles to teach about Rosh Chodesh and the lunar calendar. It tastes like baking matzah on Passover, or even decorating a cake to look like a map of Israel for Yom Ha’atzmaut.
It smells like the spices that are passed around during Havdalah or fresh baked hamantashen on Purim.
It sounds like a child’s laughter when playing “Shimon Omer,” (Simon Says in Hebrew.) It sounds like love and warmth when the kids are outside for morning minyan, chanting the shema in both Hebrew and sign language.
It feels like pride when you see the smile on a child’s face as they receive their very own siddur after leading a Shabbat service.
And on the first day of school, it will also feel sticky, because the students who practiced their Hebrew over the summer will be given the opportunity to pie me in the face! Anything to make learning fun!