Mrs. Jessie Rubenstein
What do you love most about Pardes Jewish Day School?
I love the sense of community here at Pardes. The students feel connected to one another and to their teachers, and the parents know that they are part of this community as well. The way the students interact with one another is unique- the older kids play with and include the younger kids, acting as teachers in their own right. The younger kids look up to and admire the older kids, and they love that they are so willing to engage with them. The school functions as a community- it’s not a place where people pick-up and drop-off their kids and then never see in the interim. Pardes is a gathering place for the community.
Why do you like teaching at Pardes Jewish Day School?
I love the aforementioned sense of community. It really feels like the teachers are here for one another. I also love the way Judaism is at the center of all we do. The values of the school are pervasive and influential. I love the small class sizes and how I can get to know my kids and they can get to know me.
What is a unique experience, talent or interest that your bring to your classroom to help shape the learning experience of your students?
I am very interested with how our Jewish stories, and the questions we ask about them, shape us and our understanding of the world around us. There is a story told of a Nobel Laureate named Isidore Rabi who won the Nobel Prize in Physics. When asked why he decided to become a scientist, he said that his immigrant mother made him a scientist. When he would come home from school, she wouldn’t ask him “How was your day?” or “What did you learn today?” Rather, she asked, “Izzy, did you ask any good questions?”. The way we view the world should be through the lens of questions. In my view, asking a good question is more important than giving an answer; teaching to the questions allows students to expand their world-views, to become multi-dimensional thinkers, and to engage with the process of learning rather than the product.
Describe how students benefit from the academic classes and being part of the Pardes community.
Students feel ownership of their learning. They know that the environment where they come to school is one that will nurture their growth and encourage them to push themselves further. They feel supported, while at the same time they receive room to develop and experiment.
What sets Pardes Jewish Day School students apart from other students?
The students are steeped in their Judaism- it influences the way the interact with the world in a profound way. They treat one another with kavod (respect) and truly care about the well-being of their fellow students. The older kids care for the younger ones, and the younger kids admire the older ones.
When you aren’t teaching at Pardes, where can we find you?
I am a Legacy Heritage Fellow at Hebrew College, working on a dual Master’s degree in Jewish Studies and Jewish Education. I am also the spiritual leader for Congregation Beth HaGivot in Fountain Hills. In addition, I have a two-and-a-half year old, so I spend a lot of time with her and my spouse. At home, I am usually found baking, painting, or playing with my child.