Recipient: Rhonda Schlanger
Number of years teaching: 18
School: Leo Baeck
Inspiration/Motivation for being a Teacher of Excellence:
The little ones in Rhonda’s class are her motivation. She says that “with the little ones you have the power to help bring out and see so much change in such a short time.” It is powerful to know that as a teacher you can bring out the “wonderfulness” of each child. In this early grade children gain confidence and gain belief in themselves. It makes her want to give all she can and she seriously enjoys teaching right to the end of June!
Rhonda says that her experience in the Jewish Day School has been powerful. The sense of family and making a difference as part of that family motivates her to integrate Jewish values and morals in all levels of teaching: physical, emotional, social and academic.
Rhonda’s nomination came from a parent of one of her students. Randi wrote:
Rhonda Schlanger is an unforgettable teacher. In a mainstream private school that is not known for catering to “special” children, she expanded the curriculum to inspire my daughter Rachel, who is gifted. Rhonda did not throw above-level work at Rachel but instead, taught her to think more deeply about subjects she was teaching at grade level.
Within the first two weeks of class, Rhonda sensed that Rachel was anxious about being different and immediately called me. As a partner in Rachel’s upbringing, she was concerned that she hadn’t yet “bonded” with Rachel and wanted to seek information from me about how to gain her trust. What she soon figured out was that I was often late for carpool, and she used that opportunity to sit with Rachel where the two began to chat about life. It was those private moments that solidified their bond.
Even now that Rachel is in grade 1, she passes by Rhonda’s classroom every week, just to find that twinkling smile waiting like a safe place.