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When Camp Supports A Dream

Abby Newman | Nyack

Abby Newman has proudly worked as a rosh edah and counselor at Ramah Day Camp in Nyack and has most recently worked with Ramah Israel Seminar and their Poland trip. She graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in both Jewish Studies and Elementary Education. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Elementary Education at the University of Florida while serving as a full-time intern in a first-grade classroom. She hopes to combine her love of Judaism and teaching to become a professional Jewish educator.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”– a question that seemingly means so little when you’re young. The responses are endless: firefighter, ballerina, princess, veterinarian, or actor. Usually, the response is something worthy of a dream, an idealistic thought inspired by television, books, movies, or people you know. I would always quickly respond “ a teacher!” From an early age, I knew teaching was my passion. I would set up a classroom in my playroom and “teach” my Beanie Babies a lesson according to a teacher’s textbook, one that was gifted to me from my third-grade teacher who recognized my dream. However, that question that was once asked to a young person reappears in high school when the answer is much more realistic: an accountant, a business owner, a doctor, or a lawyer. Ten years later and my answer was still the same “a teacher”. The support and excitement I received with my response at an early age, was not consistent with the response ten years later. I heard criticism: “that’s not where the money is,” “consider a different job with more autonomy,” or “you could do so much more.” Such criticism only motivated me more.

When I decided to work at Ramah Day Camp in Nyack, my dream of becoming a teacher became more realistic, more supported, and much more appreciated. The adult staff at camp saw my potential and became my mentors in education. They challenged me to take on “the hard stuff” whether that was behavior management, parent phone calls, or making tough decisions. Because of the support I received at Ramah Day Camp in Nyack, I grew as a young educator. I learned to trust my instincts, be confident in my decisions, problem solve, and communicate effectively.

Today, I am completing my Master’s in Elementary Education, which consists of a full-time student teaching internship. My students are diverse. Their cultures, behaviors, strengths, and needs all vary yet I believe Ramah Nyack gave me the tools to handle such diversity. Teachers are not just the people that stand in front of a classroom. They are the people around you: your friends, coworkers, bosses, family, and even pets. In Ramah, my teachers were everywhere but most importantly, they believed in my dream.