Lauren Applebaum, Ed.D.
After a year like no other, the School of Education was thrilled to send DeLeT Cohort 19 off with blessing and congratulations in July as they completed their 13-month experience at HUC. As DeLeT Credential students, these novice teachers engaged in two summers of intensive coursework on topics ranging from Child Development to Educational Technology to Race and Identity in the Classroom. In between, they worked as full-time teaching residents in day schools throughout Los Angeles, the Bay area, and San Diego and took classes in the evenings. Cohort 19 built deep connections amongst themselves and with their students and mentor teachers – all completely online. We are grateful to our colleagues at San Diego Jewish Academy, Pressman Academy, Heschel Day School, Brandeis Marin, Ronald C. Wornick Jewish Day School, Brawerman Elementary School, and Briskin Elementary School for partnering with DeLeT to support and nature the next generation of Jewish day school teachers.
As part of their final summer semester, DeLeT credential students complete a capstone inquiry. The capstone serves as a bridge between the structure of DeLeT courses to the self-directed learning and inquiry in which teachers engage in the field. As a symbol of that bridge, students shared their learning and participated in dialogue with a group of colleagues made up of their mentors, instructors, and administrators. The capstone experience reflects the heart and soul of DeLeT, engaging each graduating student in warm, robust, and deep conversations with colleagues about their chosen topics and setting intentions for their ongoing learning. The range and depth of capstone topics this year was a testament to the unique spirits and gifts of each cohort member. Participants engaged in learning about the role of embodied learning for elementary school students with Taylor Roy, imagined with Melisa Schechter how technology fits in her post-pandemic classroom and helped Dani Nabat articulate her own beliefs about classroom community. They thought about how teachers build confidence with Allie Sered and wrestled with the teacher’s role in developing self-reliance and independence in their students with Charlene Niku and Jordi Finlay. At the end of a tough year, Maddie Steckley invited us to think about the role of play and playfulness for older elementary students.
In addition to the opportunity for deep learning, Capstone and our Siyyum ceremony brought an extra measure of joy as Cohort 19 met in person for the first time in their HUC experience. It was wonderful to gather safely for outdoor meals and a small ceremony with family and mentors. Charlene Niku delivered a beautiful D’var Torah and Maddie Steckley spoke on behalf of the graduating class before each student was presented with their certificate by a mentor or faculty member. As the new school year begins, we are cheering on all of the members of Cohort 19 as they lead classrooms in Jewish day schools across California. Mazal tov and b’hatzlacha!