February 25, 2016

Honoring our Teachers

Alex Beigelman ‘18 While watching the Alumni Basketball Game, during last period on our last day before Winter Break, I noticed what a moment it must be for Sandy. To watch players he trained in years past play against his current varsity team, on a court named in honor of him must be a great feeling. The court was named in his honor in 2012 to mark 40 years of teaching and coaching at our school, beginning at age 27 in the first year the Upper School was opened until today at nearly 70 years old. But the thought crossed my mind, “Who else has been so dedicated and how have they been honored?”
The first teacher to cross my mind was Mr. Sol Novick. Many students remember the Judaics teacher who created his own textbooks and worked for over 40 years starting in the same year as Sandy until he retired two years ago. He too gave close to half a century of his life and the entirety of his career to our school, but what is there to show for it? There was a ceremony among the teachers at the end of his career where they dedicated a mezuzah to honor the incredible and humble teacher. I think a fitting way to honor him would be to name our new Beit Midrash for him. He dedicated his life to teaching Jewish history and literature to students and should be memorialized in the Beit Midrash, a new room on the third floor which is used for Judaic classes among other things and houses many Jewish texts. After all, as a Jewish school, shouldn’t we honor those who have taught generations of students about our history and religion.
But after 50 years of our school existing, surely there are other long standing teachers as well. The former Head of School and High School Principal Joyce Raynor was honored last year with the reconstruction of the library in her name. Another previous principal Hirsch S. Jacobson, who retired after leading the school for almost 20 years, was honored with a prestigious award in his memory that is given to a member of the graduating class each year recognizing their scholarship and leadership. Lower School Principal Gloria Kron, who recently retired, is being honored throughout the elementary school building. Former foreign language teacher Monica Heumann was also gifted with an award given to students excelling in foreign language. Mr. Ed Schweber, the physics teacher for many years, was honored with a similar award for his subject. Mr. Louis Lerner, a retired Judaics teacher, is honored in our school’s library. There are many more members of our faculty who did not want much recognition or ceremonies, the humble and quiet teachers who chose not to be given an honor.
There are also those who have taught until their very last days of life. Social Studies teacher Eleanor Brooks and Spanish teacher Sharon Moran who past away this past September. They, above all, deserve the greatest honors. Many ceremonies and dedications were made to Mrs. Brooks and a growing numbers of efforts to remember Senora Moran are being made.
The level of commitment from the teachers above as well as others, is extraordinary. The average teacher sticks around for under 10 years so we are extremely lucky to have such an impressive array of teachers who have given their entire careers to our school.
Unknown to many students are also the administrators, office workers, janitors, coordinators and more who work just as hard, if not harder, each day behind the scenes to organize the school year and keep our school running. Those faculty members who do just as important work are just as vital to Golda Och Academy. Notably Mrs. Gelband was pointed out by the Head of School, Mr. Shapiro as being a longstanding and dedicated member of the office staff.
There are not enough rooms, floors, days, events etc. to justly honor every devoted faculty member we should make the effort, together, to thank those teachers who have gone above and beyond to be the best educators they can be for us. 
Just think about it this way, if students are given diplomas for passing thirteen years as a student, shouldn’t the teachers who trained us, educated us, entertained us and maintained the highest level of passion, dedication and commitment for 20 years or more be rewarded and recognized for their work as well? We should honor those faculty members who have made lasting impressions on us and deserve as much respect from our school, as they had for all of us.

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