Ms. Jena Olgin
What do you love the most about Pardes Jewish Day School?
I love the community at Pardes. Our families, teachers and staff are amazing. When I am on campus, there is a positive energy. Teachers know all the children on campus and everyone looks out for one another. The teachers want to be there and the children want to be there. I love beginning my day in Tefillah with the Lower School students. There is nothing like hearing all the lower school children sing Modeh Ani together; it makes me smile.
Why do you like teaching at Pardes Jewish Day School?
I love teaching at Pardes because we are able to bring the Jewish values to everything we do. Judaism is part of who I am and it allows me to deepen my students’ understanding of what it means to be Jewish and live Jewishly.
I look forward to welcoming my students each morning as they smile back with a big, often toothless grin! They come in excited to talk with one another and learn each day. This year, we incorporated STEAM into our curriculum that has enhanced student learning. It is nothing short of amazing when you watch how 5 and 6 year olds problem solve creatively and collaboratively. I feel very fortunate to be able to work in a school that is teaching 21st century skills and allows and encourages flexibility in the curriculum to address the diverse interests of my students.
What is the unique experience, talent or interest that you bring to your classroom to help share the learning experience of your students?
I am a graduate of the Jess Schwartz Community High School. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher at a Jewish school, to do a mitzvah and give back to the Jewish community. Being part of the Jewish community instilled a sense of pride of being Jewish and a love for Israel. It gave me a strong understanding of mitzvot and tzedakah which I try to give back to my students. I try to inspire my students on a daily basis to be mensches.
Describe how students benefit from the academic classes and being part of the Pardes community.
Pardes is on the cutting edge of education and we are always growing, looking for better ways to educate our students. In addition to STEAM, we now have a Maker Space on campus this year for students in kindergarten through 8th grade where the students can come and build, make and create. In doing so, we can bring together the secular and Judaic Studies. How cool would it be to build a Mishkan?! Just imagine the math, science and social studies skills that go into doing that! Our students, beginning in kindergarten, are learning what it means to be a reader and how to live a writerly life. They learn they can write letters and signs to help solve problems in the world, they can write How-To books to teach others how to tie shoes and non-fiction books to teach other about their favorite animals. Our students are not always learning the same information. They are learning how to use information.
What sets Pardes Jewish Day School students apart from other students?
Pardes students learn how to be leaders and go out into the world with a strong Jewish identity and self-confidence. Our Pardes graduates leave 8th grade as strong communicators, innovators and thinkers.
When you aren’t teaching at Pardes, where can we find you?
When I am not teaching at Pardes, you can find me at the movies eating popcorn! I am an avid movie goer. In fact, I travel to Sundance each year with my family to support the Arts.