February 9th, 2015
When it comes to teacher preparation, the DeLeT program—Day School Leadership through Teaching—has a 13 year record of helping develop teachers into dynamic and effective educators. DeLeT operates at both Brandeis University and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, offering two summers of study and a year-long mentored internship during the school year. Whether its graduates teach general or Jewish studies, they all share a common characteristic—they view themselves as Jewish educators and understand how that identity informs their practice.
To date, DeLeT has graduated more than 200 teachers. Many of them are now veteran teacher-leaders at their schools. Recent evaluation helps to explain why the program is so effective: 93 percent of DeLeT graduates say that DeLeT articulates a clear vision of teaching and learning. And 81 percent of DeLeT graduates say that their coursework in DeLeT aligns closely with their internship.
DeLeT has truly changed my teaching and my ideas about teaching for the better. Even though I had a degree in education prior to beginning DeTeT, I can honestly say I learned more in my DeLeT year than I did in my four year education program. DeLeT has provided me with a community of teachers with whom I can seek advice, share ideas, and collaborate. I am lucky to have been a part of this tremendous program.
– Kathy Kanigsberg, DeLeT graduate and current mentor
DeLeT’s broad vision links initial teacher preparation with new teacher induction and ongoing professional development. Thus, DeLeT works with graduates across their career. At Brandeis, most of the current mentor teachers are graduates of the program who develop their mentoring skills by attending a monthly mentor-teacher study group. At HUC-JIR in Los Angeles, mentors meet six times during each cycle—two Y’mei Limmud and four Mentor Shuirim. At the beginning of each cohort, the mentors also attend a day long summer institute.
School heads and parents see the impact of DeLeT first-hand: “It is an amazing process to witness the transformation of eager and enthusiastic new student teachers evolve into mature, highly skilled—and eager and enthusiastic—professional Jewish educators,” says Elisa Deener-Agus, a parent whose child attended a day school in Massachusetts. “Equally as impressive as the transformation of the DeLeT fellows is the impact they increasingly have on the classroom as the year progresses. At some point during the year, we begin to realize that our children are having the benefit of an additional highly qualified teacher in the classroom.”
DeLeT continues to accept new cohorts annually, while at the same time evaluating the program to glean insights that can help the entire field of Jewish education. One current study underway examines how DeLeT students’ ideas about effective teaching evolve over the course of the program. A second study surveys graduates from DeLeT and three other teacher preparation/induction programs—Stern College, Jewish Theological Seminary and the Jewish New Teacher Project—to better understand why they choose to stay in day school teaching or leave the field.
The Jim Joseph Foundation recognizes that more well-trained and supported educators leads to more effective and compelling learning experiences for young Jews. Besides their contributions as classroom teachers and Jewish role models, some DeLeT alumni serve as technology coordinators, department chairs, directors of general studies, and leaders of teacher study groups. In the years ahead, DeLeT will help prepare even more teacher-leaders for success in day schools, shaping the Jewish learning experience for countless Jewish youth.
The Jim Joseph Foundation has awarded a total of more than $8 million to Brandeis and HUC-JIR for DeLeT.