Nearly two hundred Chabad women educators form across the US and Canada last evening concluded their annual Chinuch – Education conference organized by the Merkos Chinuch office. A similar men’s conference took three weeks earlier. The annual events are meant to refocus and re-energize Chabad educators for the next school year.
Three sisters, each a school head, compared notes between lectures, Chava Bendet from Minneapolis MN, Rivkah Block from S. Antonio TX, and Chana Hayes from Ottawa. They were not on summer vacation, they had flown into New Jersey to join nearly two hundred Chabad educators, to attend workshops, listen to lectures, debate and discuss educational issues at the annual Merkos Chinuch office, Education Conference.
The serene atmosphere at the Radisson hotel in Piscataway was punctuated by the sound serious discourse and lively discussion. Rabbi Meir Pogrow, the director of the master Torah Institute flew in from Jerusalem to challenge the teachers to think differently about how they teach Torah and Dr. Jerry Lob, noted Chicago psychologist, who worked with groups to fine-tune their communication skills.
The principals and teachers were challenged to reexamine their understanding of what the meaning of prayer is to children and they discussed some the latest classroom management strategies.
Early childhood takes a special place at the Merkos education conferences since there are more than 200 preschools in the Chabad network. Eight special presentations, workshops and lectures were geared toward early education. This has been made all the more crucial as Chabad has embarked upon a plan to create new early childhood centers through its Machne Israel Development Fund.
Child Safety, an issue which unfortunate events of the last few weeks has brought it to the fore, was scheduled to be on the agenda since April. Mental health and other professionals discussed child safety from its broadest perspective. The Merkos Chinuch Office has embarked upon a program to train children how to personally safer, and empower communities to be intolerant of abusers.
Rivkah Denberg, principal of the Hebrew Academy Community School in Margate FL remarked about the overwhelmingly full schedule as “not having a moment of unproductive time” and Mrs. Ita Macus from Long Beach, CA said that as important as the formal program was “meeting other teachers to share her concerns and problems was cathartic.”