For nearly a decade I have had the privilege of supporting, advising, and working with all of you to make the Bay Area Jewish community more welcoming and inclusive. From our humble beginnings with five schools in the North Peninsula, to our work today offering special needs support to the entire Bay Area (and now, thanks to virtual learning in the time of coronavirus, even beyond), it has been a joy. I have loved training your staff, observing your students, working with your families, and the many conversations I have had with you over the years. Seeing individual educators, schools, and the entire community progress down the path of inclusion has been a source of delight and pride for me, as I know it has for you as well. The progress has been significant. When I first started at Jewish LearningWorks (then the BJE) in 2010 and spoke to school directors about their students with special needs, I often heard the reply, “we don’t have those kids here.” I don’t hear that any more. Collectively, our institutions are more inclusive, our programs are more welcoming, and our awareness is much greater.
Jewish LearningWorks knows that the journey to full inclusion is nowhere near complete. Many kids and families still lack access to Jewish opportunities, and support is still needed. As you know, due to changes in the funding and inclusion landscape, May will be my last month at Jewish LearningWorks. Though I am sad to be leaving, I take comfort in the fact that the work will continue — we are hiring a new Senior Educator who will be able to provide you with resource and referral services for special needs inclusion, and we have published a new Special Needs Resource Guideon our website with links to clinicians, service providers, school and recreational resources, and more. We have also posted the virtual workshops I have facilitated over the last year for your continued use.
I look forward to crossing paths with you in new ways — you will find my information among the clinicians in our resource guide, and I hope to continue to provide some educator support through Jewish LearningWorks into next year. Stay tuned for details on that. In the meantime, I’m here through the end of the month, so please feel free to reach out! You can schedule one-on-one time with this link or find my drop-in office hours here: https://jewishlearning.works/our-work/professional-learning/virtual-learning/
I’ll close with some words from Proverbs which are core to my beliefs about education and have been at the heart of everything we’ve done together. “Educate a child according to their way; also when they grow old they will not stray from it.” Thank you for allowing me to support you.