Greetings from my home’s front foyer in Mequon. I’m staring quizzically deep into the bowels of my work bag.
What do I need to pack in order to tackle today’s adventure I affectionately refer to as Jewish education?
Today, I know what to pack in my school bag. An olive branch. One that I will extend with an outstretched arm to each one of my students’ parents. You are my ally, my partner. I count on you to unravel the mysteries of your child for me. Your child arrives to my classroom an unknown. A puzzle to be solved. All I know is what I observe and notice. It’s a guessing game. How does your child learn best? Good question. What does your child need to succeed in the classroom? I scratch my head. How do I handle a challenging situation? You got me.
As a parent of a child with a disability, I know the feeling of a cramping hand after filling out all the school paperwork explaining my child’s special learning needs. Again. And then again. I know the feeling of seeing the school counselor’s name flash on the caller ID and just not having the energy to answer. I get it. I get you.
But transparency is the name of the game. Us Jewish educators are here to meet the needs of all our students on their Jewish educational journey. And we want to. And it’s helpful to be equipped with all the tools to do so. What’s that magical teaching tool? Information.
So on behalf of your children’s teachers, I ask for a personal favor. Pick up the phone to reach out or answer it when you see our names on the caller ID. Fill out ALL the optional questions asterisked on the registration form about learning needs. Bring to the school office an updated IEP and 504 for your child’s file.
Parents, it is said that, “All Israel is responsible for one another” (Mishnah Sanhedrin). We together, parents and teachers, take on the responsibility of educating our children Jewishly. Please fill our teaching toolbox with student information to help us get to know your child.
Jennifer Saber is the Kesher inclusion specialist and the Teen Philanthropy coordinator for the Milwaukee Jewish Federation’s Coalition for Jewish Learning. She also holds the position of inclusion education coordinator, North America, Shutaf Inclusion Programs in Jerusalem. Contact Jennifer if you are interested in Jewish educational support (there is no fee) for your child at JenniferS@MilwaukeeJewish.org.