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The Educators’ Educator

Gittel Chany Rosengarten

Teaching is a fine art. It requires using one’s knowledge and life skills to enhance the development of each student individually and the class as a whole. Meet a true teaching artist who gives of her talents to help other educators maximize theirs.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

There are two ways to teach: Know the material and teach the student, or know your student and teach the material. A master of the latter, Zipora Schuck — school psychologist and educational consultant for chassidish schools in the Monsey area — teaches teachers to know their students. “Every student should feel successful in some way every day in school,” Zipora believes. To that end, she coaches principals, teachers, and parents on how to best reach students.

“When a student graduates school — even if she forgets most of what she absorbed — she must come away with the two most important experiences school affords. She should remember feeling respected and valued, and she should have role models with whom she connects, whom she wants to live up to.”

Different Uniform, Same Principles

Zipora’s own role model was her school principal at Bais Yaakov of Baltimore, Rabbi Binyamin Steinberg ztz”l (featured in A Matter of Principal by Hanoch Teller). To this day Zipora constantly asks herself, “What would Rabbi Steinberg do in this situation?” He used the concept of “asher bachar banu” — we are chosen, special — to demand respectful behavior and language from the girls, and each interaction with him left the student feeling elevated. Recess would find Rabbi Steinberg in intent discussion with students, taking every issue seriously, no matter how minor. Rabbi Steinberg would also show equal respect to all his staff, from secretaries and teachers to janitors and maintenance crew.

The two people Zipora worked with most closely in her career — her supervisor at her first job as public school educator in Brooklyn, and one of the principals of the Bais Rochel School in Monsey, where she now oversees the resource room — are both students of Rabbi Steinberg and have the same guiding voice: to believe in humanity and in Klal Yisrael and bring that to the fore. Rabbi Steinberg is still with Zipora on the job, urging her, like he urged all his talmidos, to use her talents for the klal.

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