While most girls graduating from Bais Yaakov high schools go to seminary in Israel or New York/New Jersey, Rochel Esther Levitin, who graduated last year in Lakewood, decided she wanted a new experience. “My mother saw The Teachers Academy advertised in a magazine, and she thought it was a great idea for me because you get the working experience, and the seminary experience, and it is not so far,” said Rochel Esther.
The Teachers Academy is TDSP’s newest initiative. It is a post high school seminary for young women, and it is a program that combines work experience, seminary classes, teacher training and college classes. It is the first of its kind in Arizona. There are seven young women in the inaugural class. Two are from New York, two are from New Jersey, one is from Indiana, and two are from Arizona. As work experience is part of the program, they all are working in various capacities at TDSP, as teachers, assistants, tutors, office assistants, and specialty teachers.
The young women live in a dormitory in North Central Phoenix, right in the heart of the Jewish community there. In the evening, they have seminary classes with teachers such as Rabbi Roizman, Rebbetzin Cindy Landesman, and Rabbi Nosson Ungar. They also have teacher training classes with Rabbi Field. Additionally, some of the girls are opting to take college level classes through TTI (Testing and Training Institute), with the goal of getting education credits under their belts. Once a month they go on trips to fun and interesting places around Arizona.
“We started the seminary because there is such a need for teachers,” said Rabbi Field. “Every (Jewish) school across the country is dying for teachers, and it’s great to have new teachers that you can train. I think we have been super blessed with these girls- it is such Siyata Dishmaya (help from Hashem). All the girls are growth-oriented, all are really excited about learning, and all want to get involved.”
“This program was a perfect fit,” said Naomi Zweig, from Indiana who, in addition to her teaching responsibilities, is the assistant editor of this newsletter. “I get to finish up my college degree and have an environment conducive to learning.”
“It’s a really good balance of learning, working, spiritual learning, and fun,” said Victoria Kuinova, from Phoenix, who is also the dorm counsellor for the students. “It tests your responsibility.”
“I actually love it,” said Chana Chaya Brody, who came to the seminary from New York. “Teaching brings me real joy. You feel like you accomplished something. Kids learned something because of me. It’s something special.”
TDSP is looking for a naming sponsor for The Teachers Academy. If this is something you are interested in, please contact Rabbi Field.