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Back to School

The back-to-school season is in the air. Parents, perhaps, are heaving a sigh of relief, while teachers are heaving a sigh of a different sort. The children are likely somewhat disappointed at the end of their summer break, but primarily are filled with anticipation for the year to come. Teachers, parents and students alike want to start the new school year on the right foot, regardless of how the past year might have ended.

The teachers have their expectations as well. They want to succeed in reaching all their students, to impart knowledge, and, most importantly, values. True, it can be said that education today is more focused on giving over facts and not so much on developing good character. However, educational experts have acknowledged that the main purpose of education is to build a healthy psyche, one that will provide the foundation for a lifetime of achievement and learning. This can be achieved only through teaching values.

 *

A successful teacher is creative. He or she strives to find a pathway to the mind and heart of each student, to identify the modality of education most suitable for that child, to draw the child into the stream of learning.

Students differ from each other both in capability and in motivation. There are students who are excited and energized by a challenge, while other students only feel frustration and despair. One child thrives on educational pressure and competition, while another child resists pressure of any sort; this will only drive him into apathy towards his studies.

In essence, teachers must be good leaders. They must quickly become familiar with the group they are teaching and tailor their educational approach accordingly. They must find the path that will reach the majority of students in the class, and then consider how to incorporate the needs of students on the extremes of the spectrum—the super bright and creative, or those with various learning difficulties.

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Teachers and aspiring leaders everywhere can refer to the sterling example of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. When the Rebbe accepted the leadership of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement sixty years ago, the Jewish people were in an especially demoralized state. The experiences our people had undergone during the Second World War and Holocaust had caused many to doubt the meaning and purpose of Judaism, and indeed, their own existence as a people.

During his leadership the Rebbe focused his full attention on restoring Jewish morale. He sent his emissaries to all parts of the world, and they succeeded in igniting the spark of Judaism within many dispersed Jews. The Rebbe taught us how to feel Jewish pride, by following in the path of Torah and mitzvot.

At the same time, the Rebbe reached out to everyone on an individual level. To each person who turned to the Rebbe for advice or a blessing, the Rebbe responded with the same care, attention and devotion. It was clear that regardless of one's status, level of Torah knowledge or observance, the Rebbe cared deeply about everyone and showed genuine concern for their problems and needs. To each individual the Rebbe responded in accordance with that person's style and comprehension.

The Rebbe provided the example, and it is up to us to follow. Each of us, as a parent, a teacher or in whatever sphere of leadership we find ourselves, can utilize the Rebbe's model to reach out to each individual we come in contact with and inspire them with hope, meaning and purpose, to fulfill our ultimate mission, to bring about the revelation of Moshiach.
 

 


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