Since 2008, Lisa Vondra has been the “Gan” (kindergarten/first grade) teacher at Congregation Sinai. She teaches her students at Sinai about Jewish values, Jewish holiday customs and traditions, Israel, and Hebrew. Vondra had always wanted to become a teacher. Passionate about expressing creativity through art and writing, she herself often struggled academically in her youth, she said.
Vondra obtained her degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison in family and consumer education and received her teaching certification from Edgewood College. She started teaching in 1994. Understanding the many challenges in education, she creates a diversified classroom experience to meet the needs of all her students.
Vondra enjoys and appreciates the teaching profession because “things never stay the same.” She loves the opportunities that allow her to learn and grow while meeting her students’ needs. “What’s not to love [about working with children]?” Vondra believes it is important to spread small acts of kindness, especially when working with her students. “Smiles are free! You can turn a person’s day around pretty easily with a smile.”
Vondra’s favorite Jewish holiday is Passover and her favorite holiday food is charoset. She makes hers with raisins, dates, walnuts, wine, honey, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove — she changes up the recipe every year!
A great day Vondra had as a teacher was when her young students made all the customary Passover foods, set the holiday table, and enjoyed a seder with their peers while making connections to the significance of the Passover traditions. She said it was very special.
Vondra and her husband, John, have lived in the Milwaukee area since 2000. Their two sons, Sam and Ethan, are both in college. They share a love for hiking in Milwaukee’s many great green spaces. They are grateful for all the special connections they have made within the Milwaukee Jewish community.
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The Coalition for Jewish Learning, a program of Milwaukee Jewish Federation, is celebrating local educators with this regular feature. To suggest someone for coverage, contact Jewish Education Community Planner Tziporah Altman-Shafer, at TziporahA@MilwaukeeJewish.org.