Here are two things I know are true:
1. Congregations are not adequately staffed to do the work of innovation.
2. Innovators need innovators.
In the face of these truths, you need to meet the Coalition Educators of New York.
The Coalition Educator is a full time educator who takes the lead in creating, catalyzing and implementing innovation in New York's new models of education.
She is employed by three congregations (10 hours a week each) and works for the Jewish Education Project (10 hours a week).
She works with the Educational Director and the Professional Learning Team (lead teachers who are the first to try new methods and madness and then teach the rest of staff) to turn big ideas into reality. (addresses truth one)
The Coalition Educator also knits together, networks, the congregations with one another.
A good idea started in one congregation gets carried, not by the wind, but the imagination of the Coalition Educator to another congregation. She carries the possibilities and successes happening in one place to another. Congregations have the power to spur one another on.... to take risks they might otherwise be reluctant to take. (addresses truth two).
Our field needs big bold delightful marketable ideas. And let's be honest, we need the holy work to turn big ideas into reality. Coalition Educators do both. They are "imaginaters" and they are implementers. Engines for innovation.
Nine Congregations that are working with Coalition Educators in New York:
Reconstructionist Synagogue of North Shore
North Shore Synagogue of Syossett
Temple Beth Sholom of Roslyn
Shaaray Tefila, Manhattan
Congregation Emanu El, Manhattan
Emanuel of Westchester
Temple Israel Center
Park Avenue Synagogue
Community Synagogue of Rye
Yep across movements congregations are working together, learning from one another, sparking one another.
And the three women who took a job no one ever heard of prior to last year:
Remarkable women. Smart. Daring. Warm. Effective. Creative. Undaunted. Risk taking.
Whole person learning and assessment are in their tool kits.
Educational experiences that happen in a yoga studio, a home, in a sukkah are just another day for them. Network weaving is their trade.
To meet a Coalition Educator is to be inspired.
Thank you nine congregations and three Coalition Educators for making us lift up our eyes and see what's possible.