12 Feb From Student to Teacher: A Graduate Comes Home
Who would have thought when I arrived at Schechter Manhattan for my first day of third grade that I would one day be back as a substitute teacher? I am sure that it was the farthest thing from my mind as I entered my new classroom in my light-up sneakers and blue jumper. Ever since that day, Schechter Manhattan has been a huge part of who I am. As an elementary school student, I was nurtured with a love of learning. As a middle school student, I was prepared to face the academic and personal struggles of high school. As a high school student, I found my Jewish identity based in the values I learned at Schechter Manhattan. And, even now, Schechter Manhattan continues to support me as a college student.
I have never felt so old as I did when I returned to Schechter Manhattan as a teacher. The little kindergartners who I remembered, were now in middle school! I talked to a few seventh graders in the hallway who were in first grade when I graduated – the same grade that I was about to teach!
For the past few years I have known that my passion lies in education, particularly Jewish education. It was an unbelievable experience to spend time in a first grade day school classroom, especially at my own elementary school. After two days, I completely fell in love with all the kids, and it overwhelmed me to watch them lead Kabbalat Shabbat on Friday afternoon. Celebrating Shabbat is a huge part of my Jewish identity and it all began in a classroom just like that one. I am forever grateful to Schechter Manhattan for supporting me as a small new third grader, and being there for me even today.
—Sarene Shaked is a sophomore at Cornell University. Sarene graduated from Schechter Manhattan in 2010 and went to Solomon Schechter School of Westchester for High School. Sarene was most recently published in The Cornell Daily Sun in December 2015.