Ode to My Teachers

by Leeza Negelev, Associate Director of Education

leezaphotoDo you remember loving a certain subject or class in school? Maybe it was your art class (that was me), geometry, creative writing, or maybe recess was your thing.

Whatever it was, when you think of that subject now, can you identify what exactly made you to love it? What made it different than your other subjects or classes? For me, it was the atmosphere of possibility.

It was always obvious to me and my peers when our teacher trusted us to be intelligent human beings. Whenever a teacher had a relaxed way of following our train of thought and encouraging our questions and curiosity, I was immediately hooked. At a time in our lives when most adults were measuring our (and their) success by how well we repeated the information they shared, it was the rare teacher that would make time to find out what we actually thought or wanted to know. When our teachers did actually listen and encourage our curiosity, our behavior changed. We took ourselves more seriously, we collaborated, and we had fun. Those early experiences are what made me someone who loves learning alongside my students.

In the spirit of those beloved teachers and the subjects they allowed me to love, I’d like to share a letter I received following an education program I taught in January. The letter is from a group of 7th graders from Dorshei Tzedek, a synagogue in Newton. It’s a reminder to me of how grateful I am to work in a place where the value of respecting and welcoming our students is as important as what they learn.

leeza letter fina

Letter from 7th Graders at Dorshei Tzedek in Newton

Leeza Negelev is the Associate Director of Education at Mayyim Hayyim. She loves getting to know her students through the questions they ask.  

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