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Network Spotlight: Leading from Within: Teacher Council

The first Efshar Teacher Council will be launching in August 2023 – composed of teachers in our network of Jewish Early Childhood Centers. The field of early childhood education is getting public attention through programs like Universal Pre-K, and there is increasing awareness that the teachers in our field are unable to stay due to low compensation, burnout and lack of benefits. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ Seven Principles of Jewish Leadership teaches us that “No one can lead alone.” We are at a turning point in the field and we are committed to creating spaces for the leaders from within our schools to connect and collaborate in order to participate in the budding efforts to create change. The Teacher Council will focus on advocacy efforts, pedagogical practices, relevant topics and challenges that educators face, as well as diversity, equity and inclusion in our network. While our school directors are juggling staffing puzzles, policy changes, UPK, family support, and so much more, it is critical that leadership opportunities arise from within the teacher community. From a network perspective, no one school can lead alone. We aim to utilize the power of a network as a platform for cultivating natural teacher leaders within our school communities.

The teacher leaders in our schools have incredible insight, passion and commitment. One of our core values is that teachers are professionals, and should be treated as such. Their time is valuable and they deserve to be compensated. Each member will be paid a stipend of $1500 for their commitment to the council. The council will consist of 1-2 teachers per school depending on the school size.

The council will be run by two Council Heads, Emily Vigneaux, Licensing Specialist and Teacher at the Jay and Rose Phillips Early Childhood Center at the Boulder JCC and Josh Rifkin, Nature and Technology Specialist at the Staenberg Loup Early Learning School at the Denver JCC. Emily and Josh are impressive examples of teacher leaders in their school communities and will bring their years of experience in leadership and progressive thinking to all members of the council. Emily started the first Teacher Council at the Boulder JCC in 2019. She was driven by the desire to make positive changes in the school by cultivating a sacred space for volunteer teachers to collaborate on issues that were important to the group. Josh has been a leader in his school, starting as a team lead and moving into the role of Nature and Technology Specialist, he spends his days working with every class and creating a culture of inquiry through his interactions with children and teachers alike.

The council will meet monthly to discuss important challenges, ideas and leadership opportunities within individual schools. Teachers will be able to collaborate and hear from other teachers who have been selected for their natural desire to be leaders in their communities. Teachers will also have opportunities to receive mentoring and coaching from Network Director, Victoria Bisharat, and Council Heads Josh Rifkin and Emily Vigneaux. The goal is that this council will create positive changes within school communities, our network as a whole and the field of early childhood by committing to developing leadership from within.

Stay tuned to hear important updates on the focus of The Efshar Teacher Council after the 2023-24 school year commences!