From the first time I read about Makom Community in an email from my sister, I knew it was a special place. Never before have I seen so many pedagogical practices that I resonate with used in one place. As an educator, I have grown attached to this idea of global citizenship, and I’ve come to view it as the ultimate objective of successful education. I interpret a global citizen to be an individual who is socially, emotionally and spiritually conscious. This allows them to connect meaningfully to themselves, others and the world at large. As I begin my work at Makom, I have become acutely aware that Makom’s pedagogy, Jewish Placemaking, shapes young learners into global citizens. And I am all the more inspired to be here because of it!
But if there’s anything you should know about this community, you should know that it stands for kindness, inclusivity, honesty and belief in each other. This comes through consistently. I am a fairly new participant in the working world but I’m no stranger to the productivity-centric cultures of most work environments. Makom stands entirely apart. On the day of my interview I was already receiving positive feedback from my soon-to-be colleagues. I was supported during every step of the onboarding process. I have the privilege of being mentored by two seasoned Jewish educators. Both of whom are incredible at what they do. I’m eager to learn from them. People make a place and that is just as true for Makom. It’s easy to feel the communal atmosphere here. Everyone is welcoming and wants to support your growth. Needs are priorities and interests take precedence. Makom recognizes each person as an individual. The senior leadership clarifies that they support the growth of everyone at Makom, educators and students alike. Furthermore, Makom’s prioritization of personalized learning applies to everyone. Makom provides for the needs of its members and bolsters growth in a variety of realms. The best example of this is their use of personal instruction manuals. Makom asks each staff member to tell them exactly what they need! This is a great opportunity to make your supervisors aware of any mental health accommodations, communication needs and learning styles that are important to you. This makes it clear to me that Makom genuinely cares about supporting their staff. There aren’t many places like Makom, and in just my short time here I’ve ascertained that there is a necessity for more places like this. In my opinion, we need more institutions that challenge traditional pedagogy and redesign education to support individuality and community, rather than focus on academic outcomes.
There has been no greater need for places like Makom than right now. We need education that promotes mindfulness in all its variations. The first few years of the pandemic gave people the opportunity to reflect and re-evaluate their values, goals and self-awareness. Today, I notice that more and more people are adopting new habits, lifestyles and philosophies that contradict the status quo that has defined modern life. People are adopting plant-based diets to reduce their climate impact, learning about anti-racism, using their privilege to support those without it and more people identify as nonbinary every day. Personally, being inside made me all the more certain that I want to work to change the education system. Having transferred schools several times as a kid, I’ve seen its flaws. I met people who experienced the brunt of the consequences and I’ve conceptualized new methodologies to address them. Another thing I learned in isolation is that there’s no time like the present. In my opinion, the global community has never been more receptive to new ideas. And I feel confident that I’ve found a great place to start this necessary work.