The Educator

I never started out with a career goal of being an educator, But once I started, I never turned back. My career involves both formal and informal education. I strongly believe in learning by engaging. I have always practiced this approach in the past 20 years.

In the mid 90’s graduating 8th grade class and parents gave me an Early American school children’s reproduction of a hand stitched quote. It reads: “What the heart2 gives away is never lost it is kept in the heart2of others”

I started teaching music appreciation to pre schoolers. Over the years I continued and expanding music teaching to include: music and movement, individual and groups, and coaching teens in bands.

During the 10 years of The Multicultural Experience I was able to reach tens of thousands of individuals and expand their horizons about misconceptions of world cultures as well as reinforce environmental education all through the action packed hands on show. I could evaluate impact directly at the show an through stories the audience would share with me upon my return to camps over the years. My wife at the time and I wrote songs environmental awareness songs that would encourage participants to take action to change their RRR habits.

One summer I was asked to tailor the show and do an imaginary trip around Israel. That led to a job offer at teaching in after school setting. I wanted to impart the love and enthusiasm that I have for my birth country. I felt and knew I could get them to be so much more excited about the subjects’ explored.

By 94 I was teaching full time at a dual curriculum private school. Not having completed formal teaching program gave me a different prospective on how to teach and engage the learners.

That year my  co teacher ( I would teach Judaic subjects such as Hebrew Language, Bible and commentary, Rabbinical Law, Israel, ect  while she taught general subjects such as English , Math, Social Studies, Science, etc) and I had the kids prepare a café for a day for invited guests. They prepared all the menu items consisting of Israeli/American foods, designed menu in English and Hebrew, and waited on guests speaking in Hebrew (and translating to English when needed) and doing all the food cost calculation on their note pads.

It was easy for me to combine my love of music when teaching Hebrew. Understanding the meaning of lyrics is much simpler when you move to the groove.

My love for the arts and Hebrew language further found its place in what became a biannual event in which I would either translate songs to well known Disney movies such as The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Peter Pan and together with two other colleagues would come up with script/ dialogue to put on school productions.

The Worcester, MA community provided me ample opportunities to expand my love of teaching to other age groups through informal education. I would teach classes to students who attended the after school Hebrew school programs 3 days a week, as well as those students attending the regional high school program.

Shortly thereafter I expanded my reach and became actively involved in shaping then ways Jewish values could be integrated into the lives of these kids by becoming Youth Director.

In addition I always accepted opportunities to engage in adult education since many of the parents of the students whom I reached would say they wish they would have had someone like me teaching them when they were in school. The Worcester community provided an annual event called Torahthon and attracted people from communities outside of Worcester, MA.

For more about projects I have done in Jewish education over the years see blog.

A few years later I took on an education position in New Jersey. While in NJ, in the day school environment I was able to expand upon my teaching influence. Back in Worcester I was already involved with helping to lead prayers however now I assumed responsibility of Tefillah (time set aside for self-reflection and communication with God) Coordinator. Again, my unique approach to teaching enabled me to create opportunities never experimented with 6,7,8 (as well as high school) students.

It was while I was in New Jersey that my next big move in Jewish Education took place. At the time I had a very large collection of Save the Children ties but could not find neckwear that would fit the theme of what I was teaching at that time. In comes the concept of Ancient Ties, with my friends Jeff (responsible for the name) and Sue, which would take another year to develop. Ancient Ties was not about just the neckwear but rather an entry, or gateway to learning. Each tie came inside a post (like the Dead Sea Scrolls). 13 years later with over 54 designs and educational stories, archaeological curriculum used in schools and higher educational institutions and informal settings such as communities and museums, Ancient Ties continues to help people find ways to dig into their history.

A few years later an opportunity presented itself to combine my skills and take on a leadership role in Education. As Director of Congregational Life at Temple Israel of Sharon, MA I was able to engage at the entire cycle of lifelong learning. Working with lay leaders and professional staff we were able to link the silos and increase participation in all aspects of the congregation. From programing, learning, volunteering, etc. Even though my direct face to face contact or teaching opportunities have decreased, my direct impact on learning and engagement opportunities for members increase significantly.

I have been fascinated by technology innovation since my teens, messing around with special effects devices for the bands I ran. The changes and shifts in the recording industry from analog to digital just increased that appetite. Since 95’ in one way or another I have been helping people understand how to control technological devices rather than they take control of you. From classroom teaching, workshop and consulting, finding ways to help people find simple solutions to what may seem to them as complex problems.

Tech Success evolved out of this empowerment of technology. The constant changing landscape of web 2.0 created a situation where people were finding it hard to keep up with all the new changes. They needed to rely on someone to help guide them as well as train them on best practices.

In 2013 I realized that I was missing being with learners and decided to attend University of Rhode Island and get a Masters in Information Studies and for the past 6 years I have been a Library Media Specialist in a regional vocational technical high school. I continue to search and create best practices for learning engagement by collaborating with administration, staff and students.