Lori Fisher teaches at Congregation Sinai | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

Lori Fisher teaches at Congregation Sinai

This is Lori Fisher’s second year teaching sixth and seventh grade at Congregation Sinai, but don’t let that fool you; she is no stranger to teaching or to Sinai!  

Fisher says she practically grew up there. Her mother, Marsha Fensin, was the cantorial soloist at Sinai for many, many years, and Fisher spent the first 18 years of her life attending the congregation. She also spent many years teaching at Congregation Emanu-El Waukesha back in the early 2000s. So when Jen Friedman and Karen Berk of Congregation Sinai called Fisher and asked her to come teach Sunday school in 2022, she was excited to get back to her roots. After living in Waukesha for so long, Fisher felt a little alienated and thought, “This is the best way for me to be a part of the Jewish community again. Let’s go back to the Temple I grew up in!”  

After high school, Fisher traveled throughout the U.S. and lived in Florida, Oklahoma, and Mississippi while working as a dolphin and sea lion trainer. In 2000, she decided to come home and moved to the Waukesha area. Fisher met her future husband shortly after moving home. They soon got married and had three children. Living in Waukesha and being married to someone who wasn’t Jewish, Fisher said she felt disconnected from Jewish life, so she decided to pursue a teaching position at CEEW and taught there for many years.  

Inspired by Nicolet High School teacher John Kessler, Fisher strives to follow in his footsteps. She explained that he was very animated and had an enthusiasm for teaching that Fisher hadn’t experienced before. “There was never a dull moment in his class,” she said. 

Fisher prides herself on using teaching methods that are “outside of the box.”  “I am a big advocate of letting the kids be a part of their own education,” she said. “I don’t believe in standing up and just lecturing and doing all of the teaching.”  

While Fisher admits she loves to talk, she expresses that’s not how she likes to teach. “I want them [the students] to learn from each other.”  

Her favorite part about teaching can be summed up with one word: connection. Fisher enjoys the connection she makes with each student as well as each students’ personal connection to Torah. She hopes students can take what they learn in Sunday school and carry it into their lives. This year, Fisher is teaching both Jewish debates and Hebrew. She explained the hardest part of teaching is that the students go to school all week and then come to school on Sundays. The middle school students are tired, and they want to see their friends on the weekends. Her secret sauce? Fisher gives them a moment in the beginning of class to socialize, space which she said allows them to focus for the rest of class.   

During the week, Fisher works at Badgerland Supply, not  far from her home. She still has two kids at home (ages 16 and 18) and  appreciates the flexibility her job provides. Fisher loves to read and relax in her free time. “I have a book in my car, one in my purse and one next to my bed. I’m usually reading at least two books at a time!” When in Milwaukee, Fisher loves to visit Benjis; her favorite Jewish food is falafel. She would like you to know that she is excited to be teaching and working  in a Jewish space again. She said she knows she can come off a little strong, but she added that always means well. Fisher is the proud recipient of the Salute to Jewish Educator’s Teacher Impact Award this year as well as the Gill Incentive for Teachers Award in 2011.  

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Writer Nicole Boico is the associate director of the Coalition for Jewish Learning of Milwaukee Jewish Federation. This regular feature, from the Coalition for Jewish Learning, is to celebrate local educators. To suggest someone for coverage, contact Boico at NicoleB@MilwaukeeJewish.org.