In 2005 I had my heart broken by a guy. That guy was delivering the message to me and my six fellow Jewish Teacher Corps members that at the end of the school year the program would be concluding. We were just four months into our one-year teaching stints in small Jewish communities across the US. We could feel the huge impact we were all having on our students in the small day schools and on their families. We were gearing up to recruit friends for next year’s program and we felt deflated.
Jewish Teacher Corps had been created to recruit young, dynamic Judaics teachers to serve as role models for students in small Jewish pockets across the country. The schools we were at had such trouble locating qualified Judaics teachers, and we were losing a great opportunity for other Jewish young adults to give back to the community. It was crushing.
Sometimes when you get your heart broken you’re sullen, sometimes you’re mad. I was both, and I vowed that one day I would restart the Jewish Teacher Corps.
The following fall I started at Brandeis’s Heller Hornstein program in Jewish Leadership and non-profit management. For every practical class project I used the Jewish Teacher Corps as my case study – thinking through how I could make it succeed. My Hornstein classmates started calling me “The Jewish Teacher Corps Girl.” Since graduating, I have been focused on establishing my career in the Jewish Community, and the Jewish Teacher Corps project has been on the back burner.
Being a PresenTense Fellow has brought me back to a place where I can focus on launching this organization – and taking it out of the realm of impossibility. In the month since our first training I have gotten back in the habit of talking to people about the Jewish Teacher Corps and sharing my excitement about it. I am busy analyzing the successes and the weaknesses of the first Jewish Teacher Corps – talking to past fellows, leaders, and that guy that broke my heart. Having the program alive again in my speaking about it has had people in our PresenTense network connect me with foundations that want to help.
The work that lies ahead sometimes seems incredibly daunting. But the PresenTense fellowship is providing me with training, coaching and peer feedback that moves me forward with my venture and has reconnected me with my passion for this project.