Letter from Head of School

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Susan Slomowitz, AJA Nominee

AJA is proud to announce faculty member, Susan Slomowitz, as the school’s nominee for the Grinspoon-Steinhardt Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education.  As noted on the website, “the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life in partnership with Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) honors fifty five winners from communities throughout North America.  These awards are designed to recognize, honor and support outstanding classroom Jewish educators worthy of national recognition. The awards are presented to professionals in communities across North America in conjunction with their central agencies for Jewish education or Jewish Federations.”

Here I’d like to share one nominator’s recommendation of Susan for this much deserved award followed by Susan’s own words.

Susan is passionate and accomplished both as an artist and as an art educator, and extends that passion to include Judaics as well as Tikkun Olam. She possesses a natural talent for integrating curriculum with depth and meaning.  She has helped our art program blossom into a signature aspect of our school’s educational experience. Her talent and accomplishments have inspired an anonymous donor to support our art curriculum with a gift to increase her teaching hours and help provide the resources to stage AJA’s first off-campus exhibits as well as increase her availability to collaborate with other teachers. The result has been a deeper, more meaningful education for our students. This kind of curricular integration teaches our students that life and knowledge are not segmented into individual bins, but that our artistic souls, our Judaic souls, our scientific minds, our physical and emotional and intellectual selves are all one. (nominator’s entry)

My family has lived in Austin, Texas for nine and a half years and I believe that if I wasn’t involved in Jewish Education we would have returned to Israel many years ago. Being a Jewish educator allows me to feel the most comfortable, natural and at ease as who I really am as a person.

I was raised in a small, strong, shtetl-like Jewish community in Zambia where my mother was very involved. That experience molded me as a person, a thinker, a learner, a citizen and an artist. Art is a means of communication. Being a deeply spiritual Jewish person, I use that means of communication and link it back to the Jewish environment I was raised in. Teaching in a Jewish environment in a Jewish way is a natural extension of who I am. I can always refer to the Torah, the readings and the rabbis to reinforce ideas and concepts.

At AJA I am viewed as a Jewish educator and not just an art educator. I love that I “get” the kids and where they’re coming from, and can use the modality of art to communicate that with them. (Susan Slomowitz)