Zelniker Conference focuses on experiential education


Experiential education is the focus of the Jewish Alliance’s educators’ conference on Sept. 6. Mark S. Young will present “HANDS ON and MINDS ON: Engaging with Experiential Education to Achieve Our Jewish Educational Goals.”

Young will engage educators in various modes of learning and reflection, allowing participants to gain a basic understanding of the philosophy and pedagogical approaches of experiential education within a Jewish educational setting.

Participants will learn to apply strategies, tools and concepts of experiential education within their particular student-learning environment. Participants will also learn with and strengthen the relationships of their network of colleagues, both familiar and new. Throughout the evening they will explore, reflect, achieve some “flow” (come to learn what this means!) and have fun.

These strategies, tools and concepts of experiential education are immediately applicable within the learning environment (including intentionality, active facilitation, building relationships, learner empowerment, understanding group dynamics, and reflection).

Young is the managing director of the Leadership Commons, a center within the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in New York, where “thinkers, doers and visionaries” from all corners of Jewish education come together to learn, create and collaborate for the common good of the Jewish people in North America.

He previously served as program coordinator of the school’s Experiential Learning Initiative, launching the Jewish Experiential Leadership Institute (JELI) for JCC professionals and advancing experiential learning within the school’s master’s program. Young regularly consults with synagogues, Jewish camps, youth groups, Hillel, JCCs and other Jewish organizations in the areas of experiential Jewish education, leadership training, how to best value the Jewish workforce, and career coaching.

Ella and Sarah Zelniker (of blessed memory) established an endowment fund at the then Bureau of Jewish Education of Rhode Island in memory of their beloved parents, Joseph and Leba Zelniker. Recognizing the importance to their parents of tradition and learning, they chose to memorialize them through Jewish education. The Joseph & Leba Zelniker Endowment Fund brings outstanding Jewish educators to the community. Zelniker scholars meet with Rhode Island Jewish educators in this conference. Noting the importance of professional growth on the part of their faculties, Jewish schools cancel classes so that teachers and principals can study and learn together.

Also at the conference, Tonya Glantz will be recognized as the recipient of the Lea Eliash/Grinspoon Award for Excellence in Jewish Education. (More on this award in the Aug. 25 Jewish Voice.)

The Joseph and Leba Zelniker Conference begins at 5:30 p.m. with a light supper at the Alliance’s Dwares JCC. The professional development program begins at 6 p.m. Teachers in Alliance-affiliated schools should register through the education directors of their schools. For more information, contact Larry Katz at lkatz@jewishallianceri.org.

LARRY KATZ is director of Jewish Life and Learning at the Jewish Alliance.