Jared Waters – Harlem Hebrew Language Academy Charter School
After just a year as Harlem Hebrew’s third-grade teacher, I learned to speak Hebrew. I had no prior experience but wanted to prove to my students that they could learn too. After a month of teaching my first-grade class, they were able to converse with me in Hebrew. With over six years’ experience as an elementary school teacher, being an educator comes second nature to me.
Jessica Bricker – Hatikvah, International Academy Charter School
As a student from a low-income household, I was faced with many challenges growing up. Luckily, I had the opportunity to partner with incredible organizations during my high school years that helped me to become a first-generation college graduate. During my senior year of college I was weighing several opportunities but knew I wanted to work in education. I was fortunate enough to find Teach For America, a non-profit organization that places students from our top universities into public teaching roles. I was immediately drawn to the program because I recognized that it was my own opportunity to give back and help students who came from a background similar to the one I grew up in. I first learned about TALMA last February and was interested because it would give me the opportunity to continue helping students succeed in many of the same ways that allowed me to succeed as a teen. What ultimately inspired me to apply for TALMA was its co-teaching model. My current teaching position also follows a similar American/Israeli collaborative format, and joining TALMA would allow me to gain a greater perspective of Israeli culture.
Meredith Smolen – Hatikvah, International Academy Charter School
Throughout my life, I have been told that I am “Jewish.” However, I have yet to fully explore what this means, and how it shapes me as an individual. I have the desire to connect to and learn from the people of Israel, while exploring what being Jewish means to me, and how I can spread truth and inform others about the history and culture of Jewish people. I want to learn more about different traditions as well as beliefs. Many people have told me that experiencing first hand the land of Israel can be a transformative and enriching experience. Additionally, I hope to explore some of my own family’s past as I embark on this journey.