My MJDS Story: Nancy Dowling
Dear MJDS Friends,
It seems like yesterday...an ad for a teaching opportunity from a school I'd never heard of...a chance to interview...an offer full of possibilities and promise.
When Doris hired me in 1986 to teach second grade, it was more than a job offer. It was an invitation to become part of an amazing community. This came at an important time in my life. I was a young mom searching for a teaching job where I could focus my passion for education and still honor my own growing family. Saying yes to Doris turned out to be just right. Here I am, thirty-two years later, still loving teaching and the amazing children of MJDS.
The Day School proved to be a wonderful, welcoming community. The staff was amazing! Judi Havice and I were both newly hired and immediately began to collaborate and create curriculum together. Doris encouraged so many opportunities for all of us to grow as educators. As a staff, we held each other up, spurred each other on and developed lasting friendships. Over the years, as staff has grown, so has our desire to learn from each other, embrace best practices and think out of the box.
Being immersed in Jewish culture and delving into its rich traditions was an unexpected gift of the job. Aimee Bachar, the second grade Hebrew/Jewish Studies teacher, taught in my classroom. I learned Hebrew right alongside my students and was regularly quizzed on my knowledge. Shabbat Sing, led by Sandi Morgan and Merzy Eisenberg in those early years, was lively, a special part of every week and such a wonderful way to share ruach and feel enveloped in a vibrant, caring community. I soon learned the songs and was singing in Hebrew. I especially remember Philip Nadel's storytelling. The Torah is truly brought to life on Fridays. I traveled to Israel with my colleagues, attended Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, shared Shabbat dinners with families and studied Torah with Moshe Katz. Each of these things impacted my own personal spiritual growth in such positive ways.
From the beginning, I have been able to partner with nurturing and supportive families. I am forever grateful to them for entrusting their children to my care. It has been a privilege to sit across the table from parents at conferences and celebrate growth while feeling appreciated and trusted. Working together we are creating home/school communication that channels concerns into ways to strengthen their child's learning experience.
My greatest joys have come from the children themselves. Each year they become my family and capture my heart. They are unique, remarkable individuals whose energy is boundless. There are few things in life that compare to the touch of a child's hand or warmth of a child in your lap. Sharing the everyday sounds of laughter as they work and play, seeing their eyes glued to a page in a book, watching them make connections and listening to them collaborate and show empathy towards each other is what makes my job so rewarding. Of course, dressing up like pioneers, creating a community with refrigerator boxes and learning to ride a two-wheeler for the bike trip are fondly remembered highlights of second grade. Last year I had the privilege of traveling to Israel with the eighth graders. I was fortunate to have taught many of them in second grade. The opportunity to spend two weeks getting to know them as young adults and exploring Israel together was amazing. I have also been able to share teaching experiences and materials with former students as many have decided to pursue teaching as a career. My hope, as all of my students move on, is that I have instilled a sense of wonder and curiosity that is indestructible.
I have many titles: mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend. Another that I prize is that of Geveret. It defines what I am most passionate about...teaching. I am still going strong, loving to come to work every day, creating new, stimulating environments, finding ways to embody Tikkun Olam, fully engaging in all the new initiatives and appreciating, from a special perspective, the impact a great school can have. I'm now teaching children of my first students and grandchildren of my first colleagues. L'dor v'dor. I have been blessed! So many reasons to celebrate 36!
In celebration of the 36th anniversary of MJDS, we are excited to present MJDS Stories, a series of narratives told in first person by different voices of our MJDS community. Parents, teachers, alumni, alumni-parents, students and friends share how MJDS has made an impact on their children, their Jewish identity and their lives. MJDS Stories deepens the meaning of our mission and amplifies the excitement of our 36 milestone.