Rabbi Judd Kruger Levingston, Ph.D., is an alumnus of The Wexner Graduate Fellowship (Class I) and serves as Director of Jewish Studies at Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy (formerly Akiba Hebrew Academy) in the Philadelphia area. He is the author of Sowing the Seeds of Character: The Moral Education of Adolescents in Public and Private Schools (Praeger/Greenwood, 2009). He is incoming Vice President of Education at the Germantown Jewish Centre. Judd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If I were a betting man, I would bet that the average teacher looks forward to the last day of school in June much more than she or he looks forward to the first day of school in September, and it’s not just because the dress code is a little more relaxed for teachers in June.
As a school person, I know that June brings teachers a sense of accomplishment, resolution and even relief when the students leave for the last time. I also hope that every teacher spends a few minutes in June reflecting on areas of success and areas for improvement. As an educational leader, I know that it’s my responsibility both to congratulate each of my departmental colleagues on a year’s work well done and also to give constructive feedback that will help them to improve and plan for a new year. Some conversations are more difficult than others and it is tempting to avoid negative feedback so as not to diminish the joy of June, but it is vitally important that we all use the summer to stretch ourselves for a new year ahead. I see June as a defining moment of closure for the year that sows the seeds for personal clarity and professional growth in the year ahead.
Just as our students receive progress reports that celebrate their successes and challenges, I believe that our teachers should hear about their successes and challenges so that they can prepare for a new year as role models who embody the highest ideals of our tradition.