Los Angeles — Today, American Jewish University (AJU) announced that its new program, the Jewish Education Excellence Project: Supporting Teachers for Healthy Schools, has received a generous grant from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles (The Foundation).

The Jewish Education Excellence Project (JEEP) was launched to respond to the crisis in education that has been catalyzed by COVID-19. The program adapts models of trauma response and resiliency creation used after major emergencies and disasters. Employing the “train the trainer” model pioneered by groups like the Israel Trauma Coalition, American Jewish University is working to create a positive cycle of support and strength in Los Angeles Jewish day schools.

A central component of the program is empowering experienced master teachers to serve as mentors to fellow teachers. JEEP draws on the University’s experience and success in mentorship certification. After an in-depth training process, mentors will partner with their mentees to build resilience and work together within their schools to create healthy environments for students.

“Over the course of the pandemic, our society has learned who our true heroes are. High on this list are teachers,” said AJU President Dr. Jeffrey Herbst. “Now is the moment to address the trauma and challenges caused by the pandemic, to invest in retaining our teachers, and to equip them for success. We are deeply grateful to the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles for supporting the Jewish Education Excellence Project.”

JEEP employs an immersive cohort model with a curriculum that includes strategies related to resilience-informed teaching practices, pioneered in Israeli schools as a response to community trauma, and social-emotional learning (SEL). The program will focus on burnout causes including returning to the classroom after virtual learning, adjusting to students with dramatically different learning levels, and navigating a work-life balance.

“Through JEEP, we are creating a platform for teachers to build resilience and thrive as our society recovers from the pandemic,” said Dr. Rachel Lerner, Dean of AJU’s School for Jewish Education and Leadership. “We are thrilled that The Foundation is supporting this work.”

Faculty in the School for Jewish Education and Leadership have extensive experience with Jewish day schools, hold national certifications in leadership coaching and mentoring, and have developed curriculum and strategic planning to train upcoming leaders to ensure excellence in schools.

About AJU: American Jewish University (AJU) is a thriving center of resources and talent that advances the Jewish journeys of individuals and organizations through excellence in scholarship, teaching, engaged conversation, and outreach. AJU equips students, faculty, campers, and learners of all ages with the tools to create the ideas, build the structures, and develop the programs to advance Jewish wisdom and elevate our world. For more information, visit www.aju.edu.   

About The Foundation: Established in 1954, the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles manages charitable assets of more than $1.4 billion entrusted to it by over 1,300 families. The Foundation partners with donors to shape meaningful philanthropic strategies, magnify the impact of giving, and build enduring charitable legacies. Over the past 12 years, it has distributed more than $1 billion to thousands of nonprofits across a diverse spectrum. www.jewishfoundationla.org.

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