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Mishpacha Junior Speaks to Principals

Shoshana R. Meiri, Rivkah Small

In honor of the beginning of the new year, Mishpacha Junior spoke to a principal and a headteacher. What is it like to be the head of a school or cheder? What should a student do if he feels he’s been punished unfairly? And most important, what gives a principal nachas?

Monday, September 06, 2010


MJ: Good morning, Rabbi Ginsburg. We are happy that you are able to spend a few minutes telling us about the role you play in chinuch. To start us off, how long have you been a principal?
RG: Baruch Hashem, I was first a rebbi for twelve years and then a principal for the past eighteen years, most recently the principal of Torah Academy of Minneapolis, a preschool through eighth grade, which meets the needs of the entire Minneapolis, Minnesota, Jewish community. I am now working as an educational consultant to schools.

MJ: What does an educational consultant do?
RG: An educational consultant helps schools, teachers, and even parents become better educators. I work closely with schools to make sure each student is becoming the best that he or she can be, whether in the area of academics or behavior. There are many situations that come up that need a unique solution that will satisfy everyone involved.

MJ: That sounds like an important thing to do. How do you accomplish that?
RG: The most important part of the job is not when I am sitting behind my desk. It is interacting with my students and setting an example, instead of just telling them what to do. That means working when I don’t necessarily want to, and acting the way I want my students to act. When someone always cares about others, is dignified and happy, people want to spend time with that person and be more like him or her. 

MJ: Students must remain respectful at all times. What should a student do when he feels he wants to express dissatisfaction about something?
RG: Any principal, teacher, or parent will listen to a child if that child has spoken calmly and with respect. I’ll give you an example: if a student thinks he has been given a punishment or a grade he did not deserve, most students would turn on their whining voices and say “Rebbi! That’s not fair!” This may make the rebbi upset or frustrated and the whole issue will become worse and worse. Now think about this: what if a student waits until he is not angry anymore, then say to the rebbi, “I have been thinking about what happened yesterday, and I want to tell Rebbi that I felt upset because …” Who do you think is going to reach a positive conclusion faster? 

MJ: The one who spoke respectfully?
RG: Of course!


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