By Yael Rosenberger
The ingredients to success are sometimes surprising. It’s always interesting to hear entrepreneurs talking about their failures, experiences and discoveries that have shaped their success. In today’s schools, teachers can spend a lot of time planning and creating what they hope will be successful. Getting the right ingredients can be the key to uncovering the unique talents and abilities that create confident students.
Students at Chabad Girls Academy have been discovering some of their hidden successes throughout the years. On a regular basis they have a class called the arts, where they get the opportunity to connect with some of the very talented and warm community members in Crown Heights. During these lessons, they get to witness the jobs different people have and the life lessons and skills they provide.
Mimulo’s store owner Chani Frankel invited the girls to a flower workshop showing them the art of making a bouquet. She taught the girls about uniformity, colors, and textures in creating a beautiful and elegant display. The students were delighted to see how they could create such marvelous bouquets using the same flowers and yet, each one was very different. Being able to see trial and error as a stimulus for growth is essential for success. Each student took pride in her own bouquet which was displayed at a school event that the students organized themselves.
On another occasion, Rabbi Tzvi Barnett, who is a sofer, brought his collection of materials and presented a workshop on megillah, mezuzah, and Torah scrolls. Having studied the halachos extensively in class since the beginning of the school year, the girls were very familiar with what is permitted or forbidden when it comes to making a kosher mezuzah.
What they didn’t expect was just how amazing it is to touch and smell the raw materials from the animals, including the hide which becomes the parchment. They confirmed that it is sourced from a kosher animal, and enjoyed the multi-sensory experience. Seeing the ingredients that form the kosher ink was also fascinating. The entire workshop was much more impressive than only seeing the halachos and written sources inside a sefer.
Positive interactions of this kind, where students experience first-hand how the halachos are applied, are powerful in helping to open the students up to new experiences. They get inspired to ask questions and learn more about the richness of yiddishkeit. The learning has become an experience that is both motivating and interesting.
During the winter months, Mrs. Goldie Barnett, one of the teachers, introduced the students to crocheting. The girls showed an interest in trying the project and began working on their looms. To each girl’s surprise, they were able to fashion their own scarves or winter hats. Developing this creative side of themselves gave them more confidence to try out new things in the classroom.
The process of how crocheting works can be applied to other lessons and areas of their lives. In math and science classes, they tried out experiments that proved how mistakes are an important part of the process. The joy they derive from having produced their own garments is spectacular.
As the year progresses, the students are enthused to keep learning and achieving. They have seen success in their work, which continues to fuel a desire within them to see more success and have more meaningful interactions with the community members who so graciously share whatever they can with the girls. Each person has helped to develop our students’ abilities so that they will be strong, successful and confident leaders themselves.