Jewish Education Commission
Nearly 250 of his peers gave Amer Randell not one, but two standing ovations as he received the Grinspoon-Steinhardt Award for Excellence in Education at the Day School Educators Professional Development Initiative.
The annual fall Professional Development Initiative, presented by the Jewish Education Commission (JEC) of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County and the South Palm Beach County Day School Principals' Council, brought together teachers and administrators of 1,500 local day school students from Donna Klein Jewish Academy, Hillel Day School of Boca Raton, Torah Academy and Weinbaum Yeshiva High School on the Federation campus.
"We are delighted each year to partner with our area schools to recognize an outstanding local day school educator," said Marilyn Nachman, Director of Professional Development and Educational Resources for the JEC, which coordinates South Palm Beach County award. "Our winners receive $1,000 from the JEC, plus $1,500 to further their professional development from the Grinspoon and Steinhardt Foundations. Through the new knowledge and skills they gain and share, the awards' impact extends beyond the teachers to their classrooms and colleagues."
"I am grateful and humbled, and honored to be part of such and intelligent and caring community of professionals," began Randell, a Middle School Judaic Studies teacher at Donna Klein Jewish Academy for the past 13 years, on accepting the award.
Randell was nominated by DKJA Head of School, Karen Feller for his excellence in teaching; leadership; generosity in training and mentoring colleagues; curriculum and program development; and work with technology.
"Today, we celebrate and honor a teacher who draws out the best in our students, and creates an environment in which they love learning and love the learning of Judaism," Feller told the audience. "Always learning, growing, and accepting change, Amer never says no to a new challenge. He lives the Jewish values that he teaches, and brings them not only to his students, but to the entire faculty and the families he touches. Most important, he is a true mensch."
Randell shared his sense of responsibility and his motivation. "It's an awesome responsibility to view each student as a whole child beyond their academic experiences, and to stay keep in touch with their world," he said. "I continually ask myself, 'in what way is this lesson relevant to my students beyond learning the facts?'"
"I delight in those 'aha' moments, and in my student's myriad of answers, Randell continued. "As a Jewish educator, I have the opportunity to truly make a difference, to pass along the gifts I've been given, my joy in learning and Judaism, and my commitment."
If Jewish education seems intrinsic for Randell, his background explains it. Born in Israel, Randell alternated living there and in the U.S., taking Israel's Bagrut national high school matriculation exams in Talmud and other Jewish Studies subjects. He later graduated from Yeshiva University, and has pursued extensive continuing education.
Randell, who will also be honored at a national ceremony, and whose name has been added to an award plaque in the JEC offices, also received a certificate, stating:
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