Even as a child Staci Maiman knew she wanted to be a teacher. She remembers playing with a “teacher play set” and always wanting to be the teacher. Two of her neighbors had special needs and she felt protective of them. Her mother was a teacher and served as a role model; Maiman’s career path awaited her.
Maiman is a reading specialist at Bader Hillel Academy. She works with individual or small groups of first through eighth graders who benefit from being pulled out of the classroom for extra help. Maiman started her journey in early childhood special education. An alumnus of Bader Hillel Academy, a student of both B. Devorah Shmotkin and Rabbi Nachman Levine, she has now been teaching there for six years. I interviewed Maiman in my sukkah during Chol Hamoed to get a better understanding of her passion for teaching.
Bader Hillel Academy is fortunate to have a whole team providing support to all types of learners. Maiman supports decoding and comprehension; she also supports ESL (English as a Second Language) students. While there are other teachers who go into the classroom to provide support, Maiman pulls students out throughout the day as needed.
Maiman loves teaching because it makes a difference in children’s lives. Her favorite thing is seeing a child’s face light up when they finally “get it.” She described a great day she had a few years ago. A student said that Maiman saved her life by helping her with the frustration with reading. Maiman used phonics-based techniques which led the child to “get it.” It meant so much to Staci when the mom shared how important it was to her child.
For Maiman, the most challenging thing about teaching is that the work can become all consuming; education can keep you busy 24/7 if you aren’t careful. Committed teachers are always thinking about their students and how to help them. Maiman tries to set boundaries and to not work after a certain hour, but it is a constant challenge.
Maiman has been married to Mark for 18 years. They have a son who is a senior in high school at Ida Crown Jewish Academy in Chicago. They live in Glendale with their 5-year-old dog Buddy. In her free time Maiman tutors students throughout the community. She loves historical fiction. Staci loves to try out new recipes. Her favorite things to do in Milwaukee are to visit the art museum and go to art festivals, and Strawberry Fest.
When I asked Maiman what she would like the community to know about her, she said, “I am passionate about helping those who struggle with reading. I am more than happy to be a resource to people in the community; people should feel free to reach out.” She also wants you to know that her favorite Jewish food is cherry hamantaschen that her grandmother used to make!
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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.