I couldn’t have prepared myself for the experience I was about to have. I figured that my job as a madrich would be simply to help Ryan whenever she needed me- whether that was helping her complete a worksheet, participate in a group discussion, or walk with her to and from her different classes. Indeed I did do those things, but I also ended up doing much more.
The most important thing to me that happened was that I became Ryan’s friend. We didn’t get along perfectly right away; I think it was probably hard for Ryan to be in a new environment with very few people that she knew, having to rely on some stranger (me), and I know it was difficult for me to find my place in the classroom. I wasn’t a student, but I also wasn’t a teacher, yet it was my job to advocate for a student to a teacher- I had a hard time figuring it out at first.
But every week, I would meet Ryan at the door as she said goodbye to her dad, and then walk with her up the stairs to class. Each week I felt slightly less nervous than the last, and each week I had slightly more things to talk about with Ryan. I learned that she has a really awesome older brother, for example, and also that she has an adorable little dog named Minnie. By the end of the year, she would even tell about some of the activities she had over the week and how much fun they were. The closer we became, the easier it was for me to help her in the classroom. Coming to Hebrew School as a madrich wasn’t just something for me to do anymore, it became something I wanted to do.
And so, it only made sense that I would work with Ryan again the next year. We have had some pretty good times making art projects together, or going to music class and getting to sing. Singing is not exactly my forte, but whenever I got to sing with Ryan, she gave me the confidence to belt it out, no matter how awful I sounded. If I was able to make her smile and get her to sing with me, I didn’t really care if I was also making a fool out of myself.
This year, my third year working with Ryan, I’ve felt as though we both have grown closer, but also become involved in the classroom. We were able to do a lot more group work, participate in discussions, and make important contributions in our music, cooking, and painting chugim. I have to say, the new program is absolutely amazing. Not that Sunday School wasn’t fun when I was a student, but it is definitely more engaging now that there are electives to choose from. I am sure that all the students are benefitting from it.
I am so thankful to have been asked to join the madrichim (teen teaching assistant) program . Working with Ryan has shown me how important it is to be vulnerable and allow yourself to learn, even when you are supposed to be the teacher. She has taught me how to recognize the strengths in every person and help him or her show them to the world. She has inspired me to be kind to everyone and to always have a positive attitude. I know that when I go off to college next year, I will take these lessons with me, and I will always keep the fond memories I have with Ryan close to my heart. Thank you Ryan for such an amazing three years, and thank you to all of the Temple Shalom community for the support and encouragement to be the dedicated madrich that I have become.