Teaching The Teachers


In a first for American Jewish day schools, teachers nationwide will share a professional development conference this summer on Long Island.

The Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education, better known for its massive omnibus summer conventions, is focusing on day schools this June.

While continuing its regular conference in August at Ohio State University, CAJE will host a conference at Hofstra University, June 22-25, for Jewish day school educators of all denominations.

The new conference was spurred by the realization that day school teachers generally lag behind public school teachers — and in some cases even part-time Hebrew schoolteachers — in the professional development available to them.

While some national day school groups offer ongoing skills training for administrators, “no one is working with the teachers,” says Eli Schaap, CAJE’s assistant executive director.

New York’s Board of Jewish Education offers professional development for day school teachers, but in most cities the Jewish education bureaus focus more on congregational schools, Schaap says.

The conference is also welcoming early childhood educators, because early childhood programs often operate as many hours a week as day schools and because such programs are potential feeders for day schools.

Virtually every national day school association — except for Torah Umesorah, which represents fervently Orthodox day schools — is co-sponsoring the conference, which can accommodate 400 participants.