What Is a Partner?
ShalomLearning has used the word partner in our organizational culture from the beginning. It has come to mean a great deal to us and those associated with our growth. When you are a part of the ShalomLearning community, you are a ShalomLearning partner.
Our partners include:
- Creators and thinkers sharing ideas for new programs;
- Collaborating organizations;
- Schools and institutions using ShalomLearning programs;
- Federations, foundations, and donors who support our work;
- Editors, contributors, teachers, and other supporters of our approach to Jewish education
I came to ShalomLearning over five years ago after more than 20 years of working as a teacher, family educator, and education director in synagogue schools. When I joined the ShalomLearning team, I immediately knew the organization was committed to sharing ideas and building relationships. As a ShalomLearning teacher, curriculum contributor, team member, and director, I had a voice as part of a team. That voice and collaboration have led to numerous other ShalomLearning partnerships, including NewCAJE, The Lookstein Center at Bar Ilan University, The Association for Reform Jewish Educators (ARJE), and our newest conversations and collaborations with the National Museum of American Jewish History and the Union for Reform Judaism. Creating relationships and partnerships with these organizations have opened up new opportunities for ShalomLearning schools to bring more to their communities, families, and students: more content, more access, more training, professional development, and more affordability.
From an educational perspective, the most valuable partners in the ShalomLearning community are the congregational schools and organizations using our curriculum. When a school leader chooses to work with ShalomLearning, the institution receives so much more than a product. ShalomLearning builds relationships that extend beyond a simple transaction. We share resources, provide training, connect as peers and professionals through our community of practice, and support each other’s success. We have a shared goal of providing a meaningful and relevant Jewish education that enables students to connect Jewish values to their everyday lives, supports their community participation, and inspires them to continued Jewish learning.
As noted earlier, my experience becoming a member of the ShalomLearning team was highlighted by being given a voice and having a genuine sense of being heard, from my initial role as an online teacher to my new role as Chief Learning Officer. Not every idea or interest was acted upon, but it was heard. We do the same for our ShalomLearning partner schools. We not only let teachers and administrators know that we welcome feedback and input, but we actively (kind of voraciously) pursue it. Our teachers and directors have a direct line to provide feedback which is always acknowledged. The addition of a Relationship Manager to our team has helped with follow-up on feedback and managing items that require immediate action. But listening to and responding to feedback is the responsibility of the entire ShalomLearning team. One voice or many on a topic doesn’t make a difference. Each one is acknowledged. It is in our culture. Serving and meeting the needs of our partners is embedded in our DNA.
The ShalomLearning curriculum is digital. A team of editors reviews and enhances it annually. ShalomLearning selects these writers, teachers, game creators, content specialists from our teachers who have used and loved our curriculum. They expressed feedback at one point, established relationships, shared their talent, and became part of the team, likewise with our training staff. These dedicated and enthusiastic teachers give of their time and experience to mentor new ShalomLearning educators, not only sharing the how-to of teaching using our curricula but welcoming them into the ShalomLearning community as a partner.
You can apply this stakeholder-centric model to your school or organization and benefit from the relationships built when internal and external customers become partners.
- Seek feedback, positive and negative
- Listen and respond
- Value input and provide opportunities for people to contribute to the organization
- Run your business with the success of your partners and the goals of their students at the top of your to-do list
This is the foundation of a ShalomLearning partnership, the ability to have a voice, to know it is considered, and see the results leading to the success of ShalomLearning schools and our organization. We appreciate the opportunity to partner with synagogues, schools, and educators in contributing to the future of the Jewish people, Klal Yisrael.
Making Jewish Learning Available to Military Families Overseas
By Amanda Gipson, Jewish Education Facilitator at the US Naval Base in Rota, Spain
The Hebrew school here at at the US Navy Base in Rota, Spain began August 2020 and wrapped up this past April. A total of 12 students from Jewish families in 5 countries signed up thanks to support from JWB Jewish Chaplains Council, ShalomLearning, and PJ Library. The JWB Jewish Chaplains Council initiated making Jewish learning available to overseas Jewish families, PJ Library help spread the word, and ShalomLearning provided the curriculum and support needed for success.
When we started, most of the students had no knowledge of the alef-bet. Now they are all able to participate in Hebrew reading and know many common blessings. Families commented on the feeling of community that we were all able to create. I can’t over emphasize that the lesson materials on Jewish values created by the ShalomLearning team are excellent and so easy to use. They have a variety of lesson formats to choose from to keep things interesting and interactive with the kids.
As teachers-facilitators, Deborah Rios Rey and I were amazed and pleased at seeing how quickly kids learn these days. Neither of us are professional educators. We got involved in this program as lay leaders in our local community at our base in Rota, Spain. It is such a pleasure to be part of this project. We are excited for the fall when we will start school again, and are considering offering a shorter program over the summer for students close to being B´nei Mitzvah.
We are very grateful for the interest and support from the institutions that help make this happen.
Amanda Gipson currently serves as lay leader for the Jewish community at U.S. Naval Station Rota, Spain where she has lived for the past 12 years. Amanda holds a Master in Spanish Translation and Interpreting from the University of Texas Rio Grande. She completed a 20-year career in the U.S. Navy as a Navy Counselor before continuing her studies and switching careers to translator. She dedicates her free time to community growth and education and leads Hebrew school classes along with her partner Deborah Rios Rey in a special online course for children in military and diplomatic families located around Europe and Africa. They share their home with two cats, Laila and Eluli.