Five THINGS WE LEARNED AND STILL LEARN FROM PETER A. STARK, zikhrono livrakha
by Carol Starin
Peter Stark died tragically on January 3rd. I first met him at CAJE and later worked with him on the CAJE board (where we knocked heads a few times). Peter was so talented—he knew 7 or 8 languages, sang and wrote beautifully. Although I never saw him in action on a stage, I knew that he must have been a terrific actor. Peter was smart, sensitive, thoughtful. And, for years, he was part of the 5 things Advisory Group that provided guidance, advice, and input for the columns I wrote for the Torah Aura Bulletin Board.
by Josh Mason-Barkin
(cross-posted to Josh’s blog)
For the past three years, a big part of my job at Torah Aura Productions has involved flying around the country to work with synagogue school educators and teachers. As a result, I’ve spent a lot of time on planes. And since my natural predilection is to be geeky about these sorts of things, I’ve become something of an airplane nerd who now feels at home among communities of frequent travelers.
As part of my geekiness, last year I had the opportunity to meet a special pilot, Captain Denny Flanagan, who flies for United Airlines. Captain Denny, as he is affectionately called by the frequent flyers who adore him, has become a celebrity among road warriors for his amazing dedication to customer service. He’s an experienced airline pilot who goes out of his way to make the commercial air travel experience pleasant (gasp!) for customers.
I’ve read a lot of accounts of the big and small things that Captain Denny does to make air travel better. He’s an incredible ambassador for the entire industry and for his airline. (You can read some of these accounts here, here, and here.) If you’ve been on an airplane recently, you probably know that the airlines could use a lot more people like Captain Denny.
Recently, it occurred to me that Captain Denny isn’t just an example for people who work in air travel. In fact, it’s clear to me that — although he is not Jewish and not an educator — he actually has a lot to teach Jewish educators about how to carry ourselves, and about how to be leaders. This, I figure, is the perfect opportunity to find a nexus between two things I love: Jewish education and airplanes. So, with a tip of the hat to Carol Starin’s Let Me Count the Ways, here are six lessons in Jewish educational leadership that I’ve learned from Captain Denny:
In honor and in memory of Judy Kaskel.
Last year, Carol Oseran Starin retired her column of collected Jewish teaching ideas, Let Me Count the Ways. This week, she asked if she could bring the column back for a special edition in honor of Judy Kaskel. Judy was a member of Carol’s “advisory committee” who helped make the column come to life, and she was an important part of Carol’s annual “Five Things Extravaganza” at the CAJE Conference.
by Carol Oseran Starin
Who could forget Judy? For those of you who participated in our last few CAJE Extravaganzas, Judy was our star. Her commitment to recycling and her sample projects, combined with her humor and charming approach pretty much tore the house down. Her commitment to CAJE was incredible.
Judy died two weeks ago. I’ll never forget her – she was such an inspiration to me – trudging around those vast university campuses, even when breathing was difficult for her. And, from the responses to our workshop, she was an inspiration to all of us. This special column is dedicated to her.
Judy always quoted Jeremiah 15:19 as the inspiration for her commitment to reuse and recycle:
If you produce something noble, out of something worthless,
You shall be MY spokesperson.
I invited some of our “Five Things Extravaganza” colleagues to submit ideas for ways we can follow Judy’s example and continue to be God’s spokespeople.
Here are their best ideas:
Since the fall of 1996 we have had the privilege of including Carol Oseran Starin’s column Let Me Count the Ways as part of the Torah Aura Bulletin Board. The Let Me Count the Ways column has offered teachers and educations a vast array of ideas for everything from teaching Torah to dealing with parents; from building a professional library to planning for the school year. Twelve years of Carol’s columns have spawned two Let Me Count the Ways — Practical Innovations for Jewish Teachers volumes, four years of Jewish Classroom Planners, many years of CAJE sessions and thousands of ideas. We could not be more proud of the work that Carol and her crew have done.
This is Carol’s last column for the Torah Aura Bulletin Board. She thinks she is out of ideas, but we think we will hear from her in the future. To Carol we offer a heartfelt Todah Rabbah. We are very proud of you and all you have given us.
- Jane, Joel, Alan, and Josh
by Carol Oseran Starin
Let Me Count the Ways was a small idea that began as a casual conversation — and grew into a 10 year commitment. I’ve always been the kind of teacher that looks at a paper towel tubes and asks and wonders how to turn them into hannukiyot. So the idea of sharing teaching ideas with colleagues throughout the country was very appealing.
The 5 Things column quickly attracted a network of contributors – teachers, colleagues, friends – that morphed into “the 5 things advisory group.” The mega lesson I have learned is that we don’t have to be the holders of all knowledge – the answers lie with our colleagues. We need only ask. I learned that I didn’t need to be responsible for knowing all the answers to the questions I posed each week. My colleagues contributed topics, ideas, solutions, advice, resources, and humor. I think that’s my “5 things take-away.” We teachers walk into our classrooms, close the door the behind us and think we need to have all the answers. I’ve learned to leave the door open, walk across the hall, ask a colleague for a suggestion. The answers are close by. You might even use the 5 things model at teacher meetings: Given a problem, issue, or challenge, what are 5 ways to tackle it?
For this last column I’ve chosen, from the 200 columns, 5 of my favorite solutions – a story, a strategy, a resource, a project, and an insight.
by Carol Oseran Starin
In our last column, we talked about Jewish sites for Jewish teachers. This column is a little different. It’s a collection of secular sites for Jewish teachers.
There’s a lot here (the “5 Things Advisory Group” really came through), and to make it all more digestible, I’ve taken these 31 websites and put them into five categories. They all come with the “Let Me Count the Ways” Seal of Approval. I spent hours going through them. And, you will too. Enjoy!
Let’s begin with Kathy Shrock’s site because it is the site for sites: http://school.discoveryeducation.com/schrockguide/. It’s a categorized list of sites useful for enhancing curriculum and professional growth. Kathy Schrock, is a pioneer in using the web and technology in education. It’s easy to use and to the point with things like clip art and lesson plans. It’s designed for secular education, but with lots of tools for Jewish educators.
Now, on to our categorized list: