Teachers at Jewish schools in the Washington area will soon be able to earn a master’s degree in Jewish education. The Mayberg Center for Jewish Leadership at George Washington University will debut a two-year-long degree program in July.
The program, “Curriculum and instruction with a concentration in Jewish education,” will include courses on core and religious studies, including the Torah, rabbinic and Jewish history, as well as teaching in non-traditional setting, according to Erica Brown, director of the Mayberg Center and associate professor of curriculum and pedagogy, who also designed the program.
To earn their degree, students will also be required to complete a practicum, a kind of internship, at a local Jewish school.
Brown said the most important part of the program that it serves the local
“We want to provide academic training for Jewish educators and create more effective classroom teachers,” she said. “We want to grow local talents. We’re certainly interested in national students for pre-service teachers. But [we want to have] current teachers willing to come and take two years to join us here.”
The program is designed for people who already are teaching or are involved in Jewish schools. While Brown expects that most of the program’s students will already be teachers, she also expects students who haven’t begun teaching to enroll. The latter will likely be students from other areas, while the current teachers will be local. Current teachers will be able to enroll as part-time students and take classes in the evenings.
Brown came up with the idea after she realized many local Jewish day school teachers had degrees in the field they were teaching, but did not have teaching degrees. This can be an issue, she said, since teaching programs give their students an understanding of how to “sequence” a subject: which topics are appropriate for what age, which should be taught first and how to prepare kids for the next grade level, she explained.
Brown thinks that having a degree program in Jewish education at a public university will benefit students. “Large institutions allows student to get the benefit of the expansive offering in a university of this size and this caliber,” she said. n