Creating Space in My Classroom for Students to Find Themselves


What  is your name and what do you teach at The Rashi School?

I am Jessica Solomon and I teach the third grade general studies curriculum.

What do you love about The Rashi School?
I love our reverent and respectful approach to learning. I am surrounded by a faculty who have chosen education as their life’s pursuit. As such, our professional environment is imbued with a lofty energy characterized by inspiration, innovation, and dogged dedication. We hold ourselves, as a community of learners (teachers and students alike), to high standards, not only because we believe in the rigor of our academic program and in maintaining a culture of excellence, but because to do less would undermine the spirit of limud. As a teacher at Rashi, you sense the wonder of your work and feel it is an honored as a sacred institution.
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Jessica Solomon’s Class Gets Silly
Why do you like teaching at Rashi? What motivated you to become a teacher at Rashi?
In order to make content come alive for children, you have to make it feel meaningful and relevant. I’ve found that the best way to do that is through narrative. By sharing my own adventures, misadventures, and memories, I become a different kind of available and approachable. I am able to impart core knowledge and wisdom, but through my willingness to get personal, I more effectively forge personal connections with students, and that makes can make all the difference in a classroom. Children experience me as a real, flawed, funny human being that can make learning come alive through story-telling. So much about teaching is performative. It’s about capturing your students’ attention, keeping them engaged, and providing them with memorable opportunities to think about, reflect on, and apply concepts and skills. In my classroom, it’s stories, mine and the children’s, that have always been our most effective teaching tool.
Rashi is guided by a set of core values.  How do bring these values to life in your classroom?
When you believe in them, you live them. When you live them, you teach them. It’s really that simple
What do you want your students to gain from having known you?
I do not expect the experience students have in my classroom to be transformational in any sense. Rather, I want their time with me to be about emergence. When they leave the third grade, my hope is not that I have changed their way of thinking, but that I have created space for them to think for themselves and to think anew. It’s their world; it’s their journey. My job is to coax them into that world as they are, not as who they think they should be, and to help them celebrate their unique presence in that world. To cultivate confidence, curiosity, and compassion towards self as well as others…I see that as my most important job.
Learn more about The Rashi School

What Leadership Means to Me

In kindergarten, I was amongst the tiniest kids at Rashi. I stared at the “Big Kids” in awe with my mouth wide open, curious as to how I could one day look like that. Yet I was not scared, rather I was welcomed by these giants. In third grade, I was given opportunities to read to the younger students and teach them about subjects they were being introduced to. By fifth grade, my peers and I were learning what it means to be a true role model for the students who looked up to us most, but we were also slowly transitioning into Middle School, attending Middle School assemblies and participating in high level discussions about current events taking place throughout our country.

Noa on a Science Field Trip


Through my first two years in Middle School, I was granted opportunities to bring my gained leadership knowledge all over the school, and into the outside world. I worked with the older students on what it means to lead, and how to share your leadership with others. By eighth grade, I have learned what leadership means to me: Noa Pesner. I ran for president, and after elected began working immediately with my fellow peers and younger students, striving to locate my inner boldness and bind it with the students working alongside myself.

However leadership at Rashi does not solely exist within the summits of Student Government, or activities set up by teachers. Leadership exists throughout the academics in ways I would have never imagined. Whether the opportunity projects in a student-led discussion about the tragedies of Macbeth or other Shakespearean plays in Language Arts class, or in student-led comprehension discussions about the metaphors of Animal Farm, leadership is reflected through every student at some point during the academic day.

Noa’s Class on a Community Building Retreat with Students Visiting From Israel


In math class when the teacher hands out a theorem, and students work together as one to prove the effects of the arc of a triangle in a high school level geometry curriculum, each student takes a risk to present new ideas to their peers, cementing the leadership qualities taught to us each day.

When learning Torah, Hebrew, and more about Judaism, we strive to develop our own Jewish identities, and interpret the true meaning of being Jewish. From the first day of kindergarten, until the first day of eighth grade and continuing after we graduate, we learn to shape our own identities in our community, finding the leader within even the shiest student in the school. We learn to talk in front of others, to stand up for what we believe in, and how to take pride in the knowledge we have gained from the excellent academic program presented to us each day.

Learn More About Student Leadership at The Rashi School