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School Diary #2: Ten Prayers for My Students in the New Year


It is the time of year for prayers for a good year. I pray for my family, friends and loved ones, and my high school students.

This month I returned to the classroom after over 5 years since I’ve taught in a formal classroom. This opportunity came up early in the summer and I decided to dive in again to my old love of teaching English, literature and writing to 9th and 10th grade girls.

Each one of my students is a unique soul.

Here are some hopes and goals that I have for my students. They will work hard in my class and hopefully achieve success. For the 10 months of the school year, I have 10 prayers for my students to find, experience, feel, develop, learn, value, improve, grow, achieve and work…and so much more.



  1. … each student finds and experiences her unique gifts. Whether that be writing poetry, essays, decorating bulletin boards or participating in debates.
  2. … each student feels accepted and loved by her teachers and peers.
  3. … each student develops self-control to regulate her classroom behavior.
  4. … each student learns accountability for turning in assignments and being prepared for class.
  5. … each student values the process of making errors and growing from them.
  6. … each student is comfortable asking questions when she doesn’t understand the material.
  7. … each student improves organization skills, including keeping books and papers in order.
  8. … each student grows in her capacity to not only hear, but listen to peers and teachers who are speaking.
  9. … each student achieves the social skills necessary to work in groups with her peers.
  10. … each student shares a love of books and the written word.

I ask G-d to allow me to provide an environment in the classroom that encourages my students to blossom in the 10 ways above. Amen.

Stay tuned for weekly Teacher’s Diary updates.

Pass or Fail

I decided to add a new category to my Bubby Blog. Book Reviews. For the first review, I have chosen the novel, “Pass or Fail.” This story resonated with me, when I read it in a magazine last year, week after week over a period of about six months. The concept of “life as a test,” in which every situation we encounter is some sort of checkup of whether we will do the “right” or “wrong” thing (or somewhere in between) resonates with me.

“Pass or Fail” is the title of a newly released book by Israel Bookshop Publications. I am a fan of the author, S. Wiederblank, who has a knack for writing fiction with compelling characters, important themes, and well-paced plots.

The story takes place mostly in a fictional school in a fictional town of White Falls. The protagonist, Bracha Halperin, is an accountant-turned-teacher who takes a job at a girls’ school, and finds constant challenges there with her students, colleagues, and administration. Bracha, a mature young lady who is also dating for marriage, seems to have load after load on her plate, and faces constant crises in her work place and home life. Most of the time, she passes with flying colors. Other times, she doesn’t, but grows from each experience nevertheless. Readers follow the inner conflicts that Bracha faces, as she learns to deal with a varied student body, difficult personalities, and school politics.

The theme of “pass or fail” rang true for me, as I found each day of Bracha’s life another “test” that she aimed to do the right thing, whatever that seemed to be. Her character was one with a strong ethic, (past accountant – definitely in character!), if not perfection-striving. It seemed to me, the reader, that Bracha was harder on herself than those around her, albeit with the challenges they posed for her.

This is something I found to be realistic, as I observe that young woman of that age tend to be high achievers, and overly self critical. Readers of all ages -from school age to adult – will enjoy this page turner, because it has strong characters in various age groups – middle aged, and young adult teachers, as well as high school students.

For example, Bracha, the high achieving, hard working, conscientious teacher and employee acted as a foil for another older, more “burned out” possibly tenured teacher who seemed to coast along, breaking every rule, and frustrating the staff. Another challenge occurs when Bracha is set up with a young man who is the son of another teacher, adding to Bracha’s conflicted feelings of wanting to stay on good terms with the teacher. Additionally, Bracha’s methods often counteract the philosophy of the school, and Bracha finds herself wondering whether to remain true to herself or follow the pack. Compound all that with spats with students, counseling needy students and planning her lessons, and the reader is bound to realize how the “sub-culture” of a school environment is often a world unto itself, where there are winners and losers. But everyone feels lost in the maze of wanting desperately to stay above water, if not pass the test.

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