Our Stories

First Time Jewish Educator: How My Mentor Held Me Together

By Sarah Gully, Youth Education Director at Temple Beth Sholom, San Leandro, CA

My name is Sarah, I am the after school director at Temple Beth Sholom. I started the Jewish Learning Works’ Mentorship Program the fall of 2021 in the first year of my position. This position was completely brand new to me in so many ways. I was piloting the program, had never held a supervisor position, and I had never worked in Jewish Education. On top of all of that I had also just moved across the country away from all of my friends and family. Having Marla as my mentor was an invaluable experience.

Marla was the glue that held me together the first year. I leaned into her wisdom to help me usher our program out of the pandemic amidst an impossible staffing shortage. She educated me on Jewish holidays and values and how I can better teach them in my program. She checked in on me as a person and made sure I was taking care of myself and mental health. I learned how to prioritize more efficiently and most importantly I learned how capable I was through Marla’s eyes. I would not have survived that first year without her help.

My second year with Marla was much less stressful and a lot more fun! We were able to pick a topic each session and focus on just one thing each time. Those topics ranged from self care to staff management to lesson and program improvement. Marla has such a rich knowledge of Jewish education in a recreational setting and has taught me so much about how to make it a rich and fun learning experience for my students. I have enjoyed learning about the Jewish faith in both macro and micro lenses to help me better train my staff and plan our programming.

I am so grateful for this mentorship experience. I gained so much confidence in myself thanks to Marla and her support. This program is so important because these positions can be very isolating and overwhelming. Knowing you have at least one person in your corner that you can lean into is such a comforting and empowering thing. I gained not only a mentor, but a great friendship as well.

Learn More About Our Mentorship Program

Jewish LearningWorks has offered mentorship experiences to educators in our community since 2018. Drawing on our proven track record and success, in 2023-2024 we will continue to connect professionals to engage in a mentorship experience that benefits both the mentor and mentee.

We are recruiting both mentors and mentees.