Teachers. They are one of our most important resources in the community. At Jewish Educational Services (JES), an agency of The Associated, the focus is to support Jewish schools – early childhood, day school and congregational – along with the educators, students and parents. One area of attention is appreciating the hard and extremely valuable work that teachers do every day. In that effort, every year JES recognizes one outstanding Jewish educator, who serves as an inspiration to both students and peers, by awarding them the Sam Kahan Distinguished Jewish Educator Award.
This award was established by Sam Kahan upon completion of his service to the Associated as Campaign Chair and continued by his family in order to honor Sam for his many years of community leadership. This award perpetuates Sam’s legacy of personal commitment to Jewish education and to strengthening Baltimore’s Jewish educational institutions. The recipient of this award receives a $1,500 stipend and new this year, the school of that educator also receives a $1,000 professional development grant.
This year’s Educator Recognition Awards were chaired by Julie Tonti, Director of Community Partnerships in Education at JES. Principals were asked to nominate up to three Judaic Studies educators and each educator also needed to send in a personal statement. The Educator Awards committee reviewed all the nominations and then went to observe each teacher in their classroom in order to make the very hard decision of whom to grant the award. “The committee was extremely impressed by the talent and diversity of the candidate pool,” said Julie Tonti.
On June 14th, at the JES Annual Meeting, the Sam Kahan Distinguished Jewish Educator Award was bestowed upon Brachie Frankel, a lower school educator at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School. According the Elana Weissman, Lower School Principal, “Brachie has the ability to connect to her students on an academic, personal, and spiritual level. Each moment in the classroom is a precious teachable moment, a sacred opportunity to imbue a love of Judaism, Torah, and Hashem into her 3rd-grade students.”
It was clear that she is a well-loved educator, with many of her peers and young students attending the event to see her receive her award in person.
Ann Kahan, Sam’s wife, introduced the award and spoke from the heart about her husband, offering a glimpse into his life. She emphasized that for him, Jewish Education was paramount and the key for preserving Jewish identity and continuity. He believed in providing professional development and enrichment for educators who accept the responsibilities and challenges of imparting the best Jewish education possible.
The Baltimore community is blessed to have so many talented and dedicated teachers working in the schools.