Brenda Gross-Stahl:A quick look
Resides in Bristol.
Years teaching in the Jewish communal world: 16
Holds degrees from Brandeis University; studied Hebrew, Jewish education and administration at Hebrew College.
Q: What subjects do you teach? And where?
A: I’ve primarily taught middle school programs – kashrut, holy books, Jewish films, cooking, Megillot (Jonah, Esther and Ruth), holidays, ethics and community service projects in several Massachusetts communities, including Sharon and Cape Cod.
This fall, I will teach fifth- and seventh-grade students at Temple Habonim, the Reform synagogue in Barrington … ethics, a siddur (prayer book) project, tefillah (prayer) and Kabbalat Shabbat tefillot (prayers).
Q: What does a new school year mean to you? Does the rhythm of your schedule change when summer ends?
A: The school year is about starting new; it coincides with the High Holy Days during which I prepare for a New Year of possibilities. Just before school starts, I go to a camp in New Hampshire for a week of relaxing, kayaking and catching up with family and friends. I have been doing this every year since I was a student; it is a transition I look forward to each year.
Q: How do you gear up to get motivated for a new school year?
A: I meet with colleagues and review supplemental materials such as new books, props, music and videos for my classes. I also like to take workshops and participate in webinars to get ideas.
Q: Can you offer any advice to other teachers?
A: Keep learning, keep studying, keep interested. In fact, I am taking the ulpan (Hebrew language) at the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island this summer.
Q: Do you have any mentors?
A: Evelyn Brier, of Providence, former education director at temple Israel in Sharon, Mass., has been my inspiration to follow this path.
Q: Any special teaching moments?
A: I had just returned from camping before school started and I had put a chirping frog sound on my cell phone’s ringtone. The phone went off in class and resonated for one high school student who had thought he would not remain in my class. You never know where rapport or connection with a student will come from. We learned together for the next three years.