The Paul Druzinsky Teacher Enrichment Fund helps RSS attract, retain, and reward outstanding faculty by awarding two annual grants of up to $7,500 each to selected faculty members for one-of-a-kind, transformative experiences related to their fields.
We are thrilled to announce the 2016-2017 winners of the Paul Druzinsky Teacher Enrichment Fund Awards – congratulations to John Parente, Science Department Chair, and Ana Turkienicz, Hebrew Learning Specialist.
John will travel to the Galapagos Islands to observe evolution on an environmental level, and Ana will travel to Cuba to volunteer teaching Hebrew to members of the Cuban Jewish community. John and Ana’s projects represent two key elements of the RSS mission - profound curiosity and empathy. We can’t wait to see how their experiences shape the classroom next year.
“I have been teaching Hebrew, Prayer and Torah for the last 10 years since I came to America, and I have been privileged to do so in a country where we have the freedom to access knowledge and technology to enrich our instruction and engage our learners. I have always been interested in learning about Jewish Communities who manage to keep their Judaism alive and survive as a community against all odds,” Ana Turkienicz says about her upcoming trip to Cuba.
“I learned about the Jewish Community in Cuba many years ago and about their struggle to survive as Jews and as a community. I am fascinated by their strength, and I believe as a Jewish Educator in America, I have much to learn from Jews who have struggled to keep alive the flame of Judaism in spite of all the restrictions and shortness of means, media and resources. I believe such an encounter can help me grow as a Jewish educator and as a human being, forcing me to explore beyond the limits of what we know today about Hebrew language instruction,” Ana says.
“While I could easily watch videos or read about the islands, it is something else altogether to place your feet on the ground, face in the water, or take in the expanse of the islands with one’s own eyes,” John Parente says of the Galapagos.
“As part of my Master’s Degree I have taken courses on evolution, looking at how genes and protein structure are related, and how we can map evolution through a history of genes. This Galapagos trip will allow me to observe evolution on an environmental level and beyond genes and single cells. I see the trip being the genesis of a mini-unit on evolution, ecology, and environmental awareness,” John says.
RSS was pleased to have a fantastic selection of submissions again this year. Our previous recipients have offered to serve as mentors to faculty considering the grants in the future and will provide proposal workshops to help faculty submit strong cases next year. It is an honor to keep this program active at RSS.
We look forward to sharing news from Jon and Ana when their travels are complete; we are sure their experiences will be seen and felt in next year’s classrooms!