Dori Wolgel

William Davidson Graduate School of Education

Orlando, Florida

JTS Degree Program: Online Master of Arts, Jewish Education, 2013 

Current Position: Teacher at the Jewish Academy of Orlando in Orlando, Florida 

Why did you choose to attend The Davidson School? The summer before I entered The Davidson School, I participated in its Ivriyon Hebrew Immersion Institute for Day School Educators to strengthen my Hebrew language skills. I enjoyed that experience so much that I became interested in continuing my studies. I knew that JTS was an excellent institution with outstanding educators, so the decision was easy.

What is your current title, what role(s) do you serve, and where? At the community day school (K-8) of the Jewish Academy of Orlando, I teach Hebrew and Judaic Studies to the kindergarten students, and Judaic Studies, including trope, to fifth-grade students. I also coordinate three communal tefillot. At Congregation Ohev Shalom, a Conservative synagogue, I teach third-grade students Hebrew and Judaic Studies.

Who is the JTS professor or mentor that was formative for you? Please share an anecdote or insight. It is hard to name just one, but Dr. Alex Sinclair was my professor for the first graduate class I took as a returning student. I was grateful for his patience and also impressed by the quality of the course. One assignment that particularly awed me challenged us to create a Talmud-like page where a paragraph from one author was the mishnah, and we had to find appropriate paragraphs from other authors that commented on that mishnah, in addition to adding our own commentary. Another professor who served more as a mentor was Dr. Meredith Katz. In her Skills for Teaching class, I was feeling overwhelmed by the demands and the lessons that I needed to plan for my classes. Dr. Katz coached me on integrating her assignments with my lesson plans, which eased my anxiety and nurtured the creativity needed to solve the challenges she put forth. 

How did your Davidson School education help prepare you for the work you now do? In many ways, the education reinforced some of my ideas and practices and challenged me to rethink and develop others. The Davidson School education also gave me the language and vocabulary to become a more effective educator.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time at JTS? I enjoyed being in New York City during the summers, walking through the park on Shabbat, and enjoying JTS Dining Hall meals. In the distance-learning experience, I enjoyed our Google Hangout session, where we presented material to each other and could see and talk to each other about it. 

Why should a prospective student consider The Davidson School and JTS? The education is first-rate, the professors are excellent, and the work is challenging and meaningful. You will have access to excellent resources both at JTS and in New York City. Also, if you take part in the online MA program, you create a network of colleagues throughout the United States.

How is JTS a part of your life today? I frequently reference experiences that I had in classes or with other students, refer to my thesis work, or reference specific materials I learned about while in class. Last semester, I had the honor of serving as a mancha to a new student in the program, and I had the pleasure of participating in havruta study with a colleague who was still in school this year.