These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

[Alumni Guest Post] Alumni Focus: Rachel Meiner

Posted on March 18, 2013 by The Director of Digital Media

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Rachel Meiner (PEP ’06-’08) teaches 2nd and 3rd grade Judaic
Studies (Chumash, Yahadut, and Tefillah) at The Hannah Senesh
Community Day School
in Brooklyn, NY. She lives two blocks
from school with her husband and four month old daughter,

I returned to teaching three weeks ago after being on maternity leave for the past three months. If I thought teaching was exhausting before, teaching and then going home to a four-month-old is exhausting on a whole other level. Every morning I must make sure to leave the house with my brain intact!

Even though this is my fifth year in the classroom, returning as a mom has given me a whole new perspective on my job as a Judaics educator. Two things that remain clear are that I still love my students and that their humor makes all of my efforts worthwhile. I also have much more patience for my students’ parents and their concerns for their children. I have always believed that every child is different and that a teacher must find a way to reach each child, but now I see how that is true even from the day a baby is born. Just as all of the parenting books in the world couldn’t really prepare my husband and me for our unique experience with Neomi, teachers learn the most about how to educate by actually being in the classroom with the students. Being a teacher has taught me so much about how to be a better parent and becoming a parent has taught me so much about how to be a better teacher.

Working at a small community day school and living in that community also made my transition to motherhood much easier. During my three months away from the class I often bumped into parents and students around the neighborhood. They were excited to see us and kept me updated with what was going on in the school and the community. Even while I was away I still felt a strong connection to what was going on at school. Now that I am back at work, parents of students who I have taught in past years stop to ask my how the baby and I are doing, and how the transition back to full-time work is going. Other teachers have been offering up their own parenting advice—and eagerly sharing their books on sleep! My whole family feels like a part of my school community already!

In addition to teaching, I am also the social action coordinator for the second year at Hannah Senesh. As a school, we decided that our focus would be on local projects that were developmentally appropriate and that aligned with the curriculum of each grade. I have also been working with the Parent Association in order to create opportunities on the weekends for families to do social action projects together. I love working on these projects and am looking forward to bringing Neomi to these events as well.

While the past few weeks have been a whirlwind of new experiences, I am excited about this new chapter in my life. In particular, I feel reassured that I still love my job. It makes leaving my precious baby at home for 8 hours every day just a tiny bit easier.