I received this letter, written by Jackie Moskowitz Shafron, after facilitating a workshop in Dallas, Texas. What a powerful testimonial!
Thank you Andi for helping us arrange the Conference Room for Rabbi Roll! It was a true success…not only did teachers, Rabbis, and therapists show up, but we had professionals from Mesorah, TDSD, Levine, Akiba and JFS which made it even MORE amazing. It was truly a unifying experience as we all brainstormed ideas of how we can best serve all of our Jewish students, regardless of what school they attend! Rabbi Roll suggested a follow up, perhaps once a month, with a staffing group whereby we all discuss/brainstorm creative strategies to help our students succeed. We talked about having have mental health professionals attend these groups and use Rabbi Roll’s framework of “Wheel of Strengths,” which we were all exposed to vis a vis his Sunday presentation, to generate creative ideas and solutions for difficult cases. (Obviously, no names or identifying information is needed; this is confidential and the way in which we speak about students will be general and anonymous).
The goal is to come up with various strategies and ways to help children connect with their own internal gifts/strengths, which may likely NOT be academic in nature. Obviously, only a small percentage of children are in the top 10 to 20% of academic excellence. These students are typically nurtured by an academic environment since they excel in such. They are able to develop positive internal constructs of themselves and internal models of competency and self esteem based on academic performance and school functioning. However, many children do not fall into that category. The question is how can we be certain that we, as educators, parents, Rabbis, etc. maximize every single student’s unique potential for success and internal constructs of competence, especially if it does not fall within the traditional academic realm. The workshop encouraged and challenged us to create in-school programming, in-class activities, and specific, consistent cognitive strategies that support students’ positive self-reflection, especially those within the non-academic purviews, and to begin such in the early grades.
It was so wonderful to have everyone sharing and supporting one another. We really thank you for enabling this to happen at Akiba. It was truly a Kiddush Hashem!! And Rabbi Roll was an amazing workshop facilitator, as he brought to the forefront an important topic that teachers and educators, as well as mental health professionals, struggle with daily. How do we ensure that each beautiful child can experience their own internal gifts/strengths/character traits, given to them by Hashem, and use these internal constructs as protection or ‘armor,’ if you will, against negative events. (We know that the numbers of children being diagnosed with anxiety/depression or some combination of the two has been rising at alarming rates!).
This aspect of resilience is a psychological construct that has gained center stage over the last decade and is, along with IQ and academic achievement, a most powerful predictor of future success. We must arm our children with their ‘Wheel of Strengths,” given to them by the Almighty Creator, nurtured and expanded by parents, family, school, teachers, Rebbeim and educators, and ultimately internalized by students to create a grounded sense of their own unique selves that can sustain life’s battleground. We all want our children to be adequately prepared for the world, and to be resilient enough to get back up when the world knocks them down. Sheva Yipol Tzadik V’kam (A tzadik falls seven times and gets up) — we need to focus on helping our children know how to get back up!
Ivan is arranging for Rabbi Roll to return some time after Pesach. I will keep you posted!
Jackie Moskowitz Shafron