Bringing Our School Communities Together

Posted on 12/10/2021 @ 07:00 AM

Tags: Jewish Schools & Educational Services

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

What do Orthodox, Reform, and Conservative Heads of school have in common? Believe it or not, quite a lot!
They are all part of CAJE’s Principals and Administrators Council (PAC) network that convenes the principals and heads of school from all of our 10 Federation funded schools with the principals and heads of school from the non-funded Jewish day schools located in Miami-Dade.
And in addition to their leadership in schools, they all share the common goal of trying to attract and retain excellent educators for our Jewish schools.
If you haven’t heard about the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Crisis that is currently plaguing our local community, let this article be your wake-up call!
Last week, PAC met for the first time and dove right into the crux of this emerging issue.
Five different areas of focus were identified:
  • Area #1- Elevating the Profile of Jewish Educators
  • Area #2- Recruiting and Training of Educators
  • Area #3- Creating the Environment to Promote Success
  • Area #4- Ongoing Mentoring and Coaching
  • Area #5- Investing in the Career of an Educator

Co-chaired by Craig Carpentieri, Interim Head of School at Scheck Hillel Community School, and Nora Anderson, Head of School at Rambam Day School – Temple Beth Am, the group was divided into three smaller groups according to the area of focus they wanted to work on.
The first group focused on Recruiting and Training of Educators. Points from their brainstorming session included:
  • A larger focus on compensation. Everyone always says that “teaching is the hardest thing in the world,” but there is no follow-through with a salary that incentivizes taking on the “hardest profession.”
  • Stronger messaging needs to be broadcast about the value of Jewish teachers and the profession of teaching to the entire Jewish community and our high school students, in particular.
  • Our teachers need mental health support and techniques for themselves and to utilize with their students. to our teachers. More and more, educators have been asked to take on a quasi-parental role as well; yet, they are not trained for it. 

The second group discussed ways to Elevate the Profile of Jewish Educators. Some of their take-aways were:
  • Launch an affordability study to determine the compensation necessary to live in Miami-Dade today.
  • Try to alleviate certain costs for teachers by subsidizing their children’s school tuition, summer camps costs, and synagogue memberships. 

The third group covered Creating the Environment in Schools where Teachers Can Succeed, which also included Ongoing Mentoring and Teaching and Investing in the Career of an Educator
Their discussion included:
  • Finding more ways to support new teachers by potentially creating a “support group” across all schools.
  • Creating more PR around respecting Jewish education/educators and address the question of why go into the field of Jewish education?
  • Training administrators to give frequent feedback to their teachers and to attend to staff mental health in order to reduce teacher burnout.
  • Establishing a communal lifecycle fund for teachers to afford simchas and sad events.
  • Helping teachers with mortgages and down payments.

Tackling the Teacher Recruitment and Retention crisis has just started, and our PAC group has the passion, drive, and motivation necessary to address this issue.
What teachers need to hear is that the community supports them and their vital work — not just in words but in deeds as well!
The foundation of all Jewish community is education (otherwise we cease to be a community within a generation). And the foundation of Jewish education in schools is the teacher, the person who has the most direct impact on the child in the classroom.
We at CAJE are trying hard to determine how we can assist our schools and we are looking to the community to help— if not for the schools, then for the future of the Miami Jewish community itself!