A teacher reflects on her time at JPS
By Ericka Schilit

“You don’t look so Chabad..” the man sitting across the table from me at the conference I’m attending is trying his best to compute my schools affiliation with my pink hair and tattoos. I had offered up Chabad as an explanation after having already fielded the question “Is Sardis a place?” I laugh, understanding the confusion, the truth is, JPS isn’t easy to sum up in a succinct few words.

This is my second year as a lead teacher at the Jewish Preschool on Sardis and when I first started, I felt similarly worried about whether I would fit in at my new school. I worried I was too different. Too different in my teaching style. Too different in my spirituality. Too different in my vibe. I am so grateful, everyday that I come to work, that I took the leap.

The past two years, I’ve watched myself grow into a stronger teacher, largely as a result of these differences. I’m learning new things about behavior management, about curriculum, and about Judaism all the time. I’m growing personally and professionally, amongst a group of fellow teachers from all different backgrounds who all have their own different and unique “vibe”. And what I actually found was that my vibe has been not only loved but valued.

Those who are a part of the JPS community know that it is just that, a community. Everyone on staff is coming together with their own unique skill set to create the warmest place for our kiddos. I felt this warmth and love firsthand, as I got married this past March and my JPS community showed up to bake cupcakes, style my makeup, build decorations, and throw me a post wedding shower. It takes a village to raise kids or in my case, to make a wedding. And what an incredible village I had.

I often refer to JPS as the “goldilocks” of schools. Not too big and not to small. Big enough to develop your own unique classroom culture, and small enough to feel unequivocally supported by administration. It’s so rare to find a school where as a teacher, I’m not having to beg for support from admin. I do not take this for granted.

I’m so excited to continue my professional journey at JPS. I’ve been longing for a school that I could call “home” and seeing veteran teachers, coming into school everyday after 14 years with a smile on their face, I know that this is a place I’ll continue to grow. Thank you JPS, for embracing me, and growing me into a better educator everyday.