New teachers bring added enthusiasm to HAT this year

by | Dec 4, 2015 | Other News

For moms and dads who are into baseball and have a five-year-old child, here is another reason to enroll him or her at Hebrew Academy of Tidewater: There will be an opportunity to talk about the national pastime, baseball, with kindergarten teacher Terri Kraly, whose father-in-law, Steve, had a “cup of coffee” with the New York Yankees in 1953, pitching in five games, but more famously, rooming with Mickey Mantle.

“He has a lot of great pictures and memories,” says Kraly, “and he’s passed them on to us.”

What Kraly really wants to talk about, however, is her pupils, who are having a ball learning letters, sounds, math, creative writing and “confidence” each day.

Kraly is one of four new, but veteran teachers who have joined HAT in the last two years. K-5 art instructor Michele Barnes is another.

“The children here at HAT are adorable, the faculty is outstanding and the facility is amazing,” says Barnes who is highly complementary of the school’s light and airy new art room. Barnes, whose favorite personal art medium is “encaustic” or painting with wax, is not Jewish, but says all of her friends were back in Queens where she was raised. “So I felt like I was Jewish, and now I will have the pleasure to teach kids how to make menorahs and dreidels out of clay and other materials.”

Marnie Waldman is the new Judaic Studies instructor for first grade. She was down the hall last year in the Strelitz pre-school and for the past seven years, she has taught in the Religious School program at Ohef Sholom Temple in Norfolk. An Illinois native, Waldman is introducing her class to the Hebrew language, Jewish holidays and the weekly parsha.

“During the high holidays, I was amazed at how many children brought shofars to school,” says Waldman, who was in the assisted living field before enrolling in the Career Switching program at ODU, which led her to the classroom. “It’s great when you see a six-year-old’s eye’s light up when he learns the Hebrew name for something, like kelev (dog) or chatool (cat). They soak it up.”

Waldman enjoys the “warm family environment” at HAT. So does Kraly, who is counting on the kids to help her become more Hebrew literate during weekly Shabbat observances.

“We are really into sharing and collaboration in my class,” says Kraly, who has instituted “marble moments” where a child earns a marble for doing something fabulous. When there are enough marbles in a jar, the entire class votes on a fun group activity. “It’s a great way to build teamwork,” which is what you might expect to hear from someone steeped in sports, but also education. “My mother was a teacher for 32 years, my grandfather was a principal, my grandmother was a reading specialist and my sister is a school administrator in North Carolina.”

Linda Shames is back at HAT after teaching first grade elsewhere for a quarter century. Now a general studies instructor in third grade, she says she’s loving it.

“I’m bringing my love of poetry into the classroom, having each child memorize a poem every month and bringing in ones to share with the rest of the class,” says Shames. “It is helping with their public speaking and memorization skills and instilling a love for poetry. It’s wonderful, and I’m so happy to be here.”

“We are so fortunate to have such amazing professionals join our faculty this year,” says Heather Moore, interim Head of School. “They have brought a great deal of enthusiasm and experience and are making a wonderful school an even better place for the children, in both our Judaic and General Studies programs.”

by Joel Rubin