Congratulations to our Madrichim!

October 2018 Newsletter Article

מַזָּל טוֹב/congratulations!  We have 17 Madrichim signed up to work in our Hebrew and Religious School programs this year. WOW!!  Definitions of a ‘Madrich/Madrichah’ include “guide, trainer, educator, youth counselor, or supervisor”.

When I think about Madrichim, the expression which comes to mind is ‘role-model’. Madrichim offer students a bridge between more formal instruction and fun, hands-on Jewish learning. Madrichim help students explore their future goals and how they can participate actively in the Jewish community. Madrichim present students with someone to talk to, look up to, and simply enjoy learning with, and from. In their best incarnation, a Madrich or Madrichah is a peer and mentor, rolled into one.

Caitlyn Curry, an 11thgrader, is entering her fourth year as a Madrichah in our program. She is enthusiastic about the work she does. “I decided to be a Madrichah, because when I was younger, the people who made Hebrew school fun and interesting for me were not only the teachers, but especially the Madrichim assigned to my classes.” Caitlyn says when she initially considered becoming a Madrichah she was inspired by “the thought of these people [Madrichim] who always were fun to hang out with and [were] easy to connect with and learn from.” Caitlyn says when she was a younger student, “Madrichim made Hebrew School way better! I wanted to have that same impact on other people.”

Our Madrichim program speaks to the strength of Congregation Shalom Religious School and Hebrew School programming. At a time when there is so much pulling at our students’ limited time, we have teens who are so willing to give of themselves to ensure younger students have a meaningful Jewish educational experience. Some Madrichim, in fact, donate half their salary back into our synagogue community, a commendable action.

To extend the educational goals of our Madrichim programming, Congregation Shalom has embarked upon an educational training course for our teen teachers-in-training through Gateways in Newton, which provides high quality special education services, expertise and support to enable students with diverse learning needs to succeed in Jewish educational settings and participate meaningfully in Jewish life. Our school joined a Gateways-sponsored Teen Madrichim Learning Cohort in August. An instruction session, built on a train-the-trainer model, took participants through the innovative Gateways Teen Madrichim Curriculum which, in turn, prepares teen teaching assistants to better support diverse learners in the classroom. Last month, four teachers and I attended this training and Gateways Director of Coaching and Consultation, Sherry Grossman, is advising and mentoring our school, based upon our goals to professionalize and advance our Madrichim program.

A generous grant from our School Committee is funding Gateways programming this year so Madrichim, supported by teaching staff, will be better coached to serve all students in new and inspiring ways. Indeed, in training sessions, we have already begun exploring the differences and similarities between learners and/or teachers. Notes Madrichah Caitlin Curry, “I have stayed with it [being a Madrichah] because I feel like I am able to stay a part of the community through the work I do on Wednesdays and I find it gives me an opportunity to learn more about working with other people, especially people younger than me. It helps me learn about myself, my own strengths and weaknesses relating to Judaism, or teaching, and it shows me where I have room to improve in my life.”

It is our own Madrichim who will continue to motivate and stir us as we move into deeper Kavanah/Intention, reflection, and action in the coming year.

There are interesting articles and links online re: Madrichim training, see:

https://urj.org/blog/2014/10/06/engaging-effective-madrichim-training]

L’Shalom,

Stay Tuned for More Adventures In Jewish Learning and Engagement…

Dale Norman