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Over the years, so many wonderful students have graduated Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Hartford. Below are profiles of past students that have accomplished so much by taking what they learned here and applying it to life. As a community, we are so proud!
On a recent trip to Solomon Schechter, I felt like I was back home. While some features of Schechter appeared unfamiliar (hello second floor middle school!), many aspects had not changed. As I meandered through halls I once skipped down, I was brought to tears while reminiscing with former teachers and from hearing the sound of children singing prayers I too learned at Schechter.
During my time at SSDS from Gan Aleph through eighth grade, the Schechter community instilled in me many values that I hold true to this day: a strong sense of self, the importance of Judaism, and practicing tikun olam. The value of healing the world has guided my life professionally. Upon graduating with a Psychology degree from Miami University, I obtained my Master's degree in Counseling Psychology from Lesley University. I have been working in the field of eating disorders since 2009, advocating for an increase in eating disorder awareness and understanding. I am currently employed as the Connecticut Marketing and Community Relations Associate with Walden Behavioral Care in South Windsor, CT. In addition, I continue my clinical work seeing patients for individual and group counseling sessions.
In my spare time, I recently resumed taking Hebrew classes. My Hebrew teacher is impressed with my language skills and I have Schechter to thank for those. I look forward to my next trip to Israel where I will benefit from being able to travel independently.
Recently, I looked back into my eighth grade yearbook and I found myself at the page that predicts "What will she be doing in 10 years?" My teachers prophesied that I would be the Chief of Staff at a hospital. I'm not sure what characteristics I demonstrated at that age to make my teachers think that, but their perceptions were on point. I am currently studying for my Master's Degree in Public Health Communication and Marketing at George Washington University.
Although I did not follow the exact route my teachers suggested, I am in a Public Health field that is both rewarding and exciting. I have the pleasure of working for a health communication agency that helps clients like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in their efforts to disseminate information about healthy living.
It is a tribute to the close-knit community at Solomon Schechter that my teachers were able to recognize my interests at such a young age.
When I reflect on my eight years at Solomon Schechter Day School, one thing that stands out above everything else is how strongly I was encouraged to pursue math. Each year at Schechter I was placed in the accelerated math classes; yet, it was receiving the Excellence in Math Award at the Eighth Grade award ceremony that made me realize math was a path I could consider pursuing. Although I was surprised to receive the award, it instilled in me a new-found confidence.
I entered high school on an accelerated math path, excelled, and continued on to be a math major at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Shortly after graduating with a Bachelors of Science in Mathematics, I moved to New York City where I took a job, and currently still work, in the finance department of a technology company.
If not for my Schechter teachers who recognized my potential in math and encouraged me to follow it, I would not have had the confidence to pursue a career in math.
I began Solomon Schechter in fourth grade. I will never forget walking into Mrs. Levy's classroom my first morning. As the "new kid," I was nervous about making a good impression with my classmates. I took a deep breath and told myself, "Okay I can do this." Schechter was warm and welcoming, providing me with other opportunities to jump in.
After graduating from Syracuse University in 2007, I moved to New York City. A stark contrast to the small community in which I grew up, New York was a daunting place at first. I was excited to take a job working in postproduction for the television show Chopped; working in the television/film industry has always been my dream.
On my first day at Chopped, I felt the return of those old nervous jitters as I walked through the studio doors. I thought back to that first day at Schechter, took a deep breath, and thought, "Okay I can do this." Because my experiences at Schechter taught me to be comfortable in new situations, I did it!
Sara Schulwolf is a first year student at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. She is considering majoring in Psychology or Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought (a department similar to political science that is unique to Amherst). She is a member of the Amherst women's crew team and is a contributing editor for The Indicator, Amherst's journal of social and political thought.
Reflecting upon the impact of her experience at Schechter, Sara writes: My 11 years at Solomon Schechter Day School have left a lasting impact on many areas of my life. Many of my closest friends are those whom I met on my first day of preschool and grew up with throughout the subsequent years.
Whenever I meet another person who went to Schechter, I feel an instant connection with them: our shared memories and experiences (Who were you in the hero show? Who chaperoned your Israel trip?) create an indescribable bond amongst the Schechter community past and present.
Schechter instilled in me a love of learning; the school's dedicated staff consistently challenged me to achieve my full academic potential. It was at Schechter where I learned what has become a lifelong mantra: never accept "good enough;" always strive for improvement in my school life, in my Jewish life, and in my personal life.
I can trace the pride that I have in being Jewish and my staunch support of Israel back to years of cultivation at Schechter. Today, I relish the opportunity to speak Hebrew, a skill that I can directly attribute to my Schechter education!
No matter where life leads me, I will be forever grateful to Solomon Schechter Day School for providing me with such a solid academic and Jewish foundation and the unconditional support of my Schechter family.
Anna Stanger-Golden is a special education science teacher at the Boston Green Academy, a school for students who are overage, under credited and on the dropout pipeline. She is engaged in an initiative to incorporate environmental justice into the school's curriculum and into the hearts and minds of the student body. Currently, her environmental class spends Tuesdays growing food to help students understand the benefits of growing their own food, having plants in indoor spaces, and motivations for eating organic.
"Too often poor communities are targeted for dumping spaces and are neglected when cities make ecological improvements to neighborhoods," says Stanger-Golden. "Often, it's the poorest communities who have the worst air quality, the worst healthcare, and the least access to healthy food. My class of seniors is working to fundraise and build a miniature park in one of their neighborhoods that brings some of this to light." The "parklet" will replace two parking spaces with greenery and potentially interactive education around alternative energy and/or eating a plant based diet.
Stanger-Golden sees a connection between her experience at Schechter and what she is doing today. "It was great to study Talmud with Rabbi Chatinover," she says. "He does a great job helping Middle School students study the texts of our tradition and use then to delve into a conversation about what's right and what's wrong. His class helped shape my strong inclination towards social and environmental justice"
Anna is married to Ben Golden, a lawyer who works for the appeals court in Boston. They live in Jamaica Plain in Boston. She attends yoga classes, run 5K race on occasion, and has become quite the cook. To learn more about her project, visit www.parkolation.com.
After graduating from Schechter in 1989, Debi Himelfarb attended Hall High School and Rutgers College in New Brunswick, NJ. She spent her junior in year at Hebrew University in Jerusalem prior to receiving a B.A. in English and Political Science.
In 1997, Debi moved to Washington, DC and began her career in client care. She joined Blackboard, the global leader in e-learning and education software during its early stages in 2003. Eight years later, after the birth of their second child, Debi left her position as Director of Client Support to be a full time mom.
In April 2012, ShalomLearning recruited Debi to be the Vice President of Operations. A start up based in Bethesda, MD, ShalomLearning's mission is to make Jewish education more engaging and accessible for everyone. By blending the best of the traditional classroom instruction with scheduled online discussions, and age-appropriate selfpaced learning activities, ShalomLearning partners with synagogues and other Jewish organizations to meet the needs of the overscheduled, tech savvy 21st century families.
Debi and her husband Evan live in Rockville, MD with their two sons Dylan and Alec. They belong to B'nai Israel Congregation.