By Stacey Dresner ~
SPRINGFIELD, MA. – Members of the Jewish community came together to honor outstanding educators and other “Unsung Heroes” at the Resource Center for Jewish Education’s Educators Banquet in Springfield, Mass. on May 29 at Sinai Temple.
A program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, the banquet and awards honor teachers from local Jewish day schools, as well as professionals in the community for their leadership, volunteers for their commitment, and teens for their hard work and involvement in the community.
Two faculty members at Hebrew High School of New England (HHNE) in West Hartford were honored for their work at the Educator’s Banquet: Rabbi Shimmy Trencher and Heather Page.
Rabbi Shimmy Trencher, dean of students at HHNE, was also honored as a 2012 Unsung Hero for Outstanding Professional Leadership, along with Marla Shelasky, director of admissions and marketing at Lander-Grinspoon Academy in Northampton.
Trencher’s students describe him as a “mentor; a Jewish role-model; a teacher; a friend; a parental figure; and a life coach” and see him as “the engine of our school.” Besides his work at HHNE, he is also the founder of Heart Mind & Soul, a non-profit that runs inspirational weekend workshops for Jewish teens.
HHNE English teacher Heather Page was also honored, receiving a 2012 Grinspoon Award for Excellence in Jewish Education. Page teaches Literary Genres (Academic), Literary Appreciation (Honors) and AP Language and Composition. Beyond her classroom roles, Page is also HHNE’s Director of College Guidance. She has been on the faculty of HHNE for four years.
Deborah Bromberg-Seltzer, director of Judaic Studies at both Heritage Academy and Lander-Grinspoon Academy (LGA) was named the Grinspoon-Steinhardt Excellence in Jewish Education Award Winner for 2012. The prestigious Grinspoon-Steinhardt award is given by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life, in partnership with JESNA, the Jewish Education Service of North America, to educators across the country, to “recognize, honor, and support, outstanding classroom Jewish educators on the local level.” Grinspoon-Steinhardt winners receive $2,000 to be used toward professional development.
Yaffa and Haim Gunner of Amherst were named 2012’s Unsung Heroes for Outstanding Volunteer Leadership for their work at the Jewish Community of Amherst and its World
Jewish Concerns and Action Committee.
The 2012 Unsung Heroes for Outstanding Teen Leadership were Jackie Chipkin and Randi Katz. Both teens have been members of the B’nai Tzedek Youth Foundation board for the past three years. Both are students at Longmeadow High School and attend Temple Beth El.
Other educators honored at the banquet include Heather Lewis, who teaches toddlers and three-year-olds at the Springfield Jewish Community Center Preschool; and Julie Seay, a preschool and third-grade secular studies teacher at Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy in Longmeadow, Mass.