This summer, 13 teachers from 10 BJE-affiliated early childhood programs set course on an innovative program at American Jewish University (AJU), in which they will learn to become mentor teachers. The ECE Mentor Teacher Program is an opportunity for educators from BJE-affiliated Early Childhood Centers to learn how to be successful mentor teachers, concurrently mentor a teacher within their school site, become part of a cohort of educators, and receive ongoing support as they become established mentor teachers within their institution. Participants have committed to a two-year program to begin their mentoring journey. They are enrolled in AJU’s Jewish Education Excellence Project (JEEP): Mentor Teacher Training for the 2023-2024 school year. The program consists of a 10-month certification program earning three academic units. It began with a 3-day intensive workshop from August 8-10, 2023; moving forward, the cohort will physically meet once a month. Each participant will also have a remote monthly one-on-one session with the AJU faculty.
Following the initial year (2023-2024), participants will form a Community of Practice (CoP) professional network facilitated by BJE staff for the 2024-2025 school year. The CoP will support participants as they continue to mentor a teacher within their school and offer professional development towards creating a “mentoring culture” at their school.
Carly Rosenstein developed the partnership with AJU that made the program possible.
BJE instituted this program as a response to the challenge in teacher recruitment and retention in the early childhood field. There are multiple benefits to training a teacher within the school. It creates opportunities to elevate teachers looking for increased responsibility and provides a formal framework for new teachers within a school, so they feel supported in their first year. It can relieve some of the strain on school administration as they share responsibility with teachers within the school. And it's appealing to prospective candidates to know that a school is prioritizing a mentoring culture.
Chana completed the AJU course as part of a varied group of educators (i.e., not specifically drawn from the early childhood education field). She encouraged BJE to create a cohort of early childhood educators, offering an expanded and enriched opportunity to BJE-affiliated early childhood education centers.
I am grateful that BJE was willing and able to support bringing this program to the early childhood community. We all have very tight budgets, and most of us have no extra resources to put toward an opportunity like this. The impact will be truly profound.
This program is subsidized by both BJE and AJU, with the schools contributing the balance for their own educators.
Participating schools include: Temple Akiba ECC, Valley Beth Shalom ECC, Westside JCC, Ohr Eliyahu, B'nai Simcha, Wilshire Boulevard Temple ECCs, Adat Ari El, Ilan Ramon, Sephardic Temple and Tashbar Sephardic Yeshiva Ketana.