Renee Fine reflects on her Helen Diller Education Award
When Renee Fine won the 2013 Helen Diller Award for Excellence in Jewish Education in the Day School category last year, she had no idea how it would impact her career.
“Winning the award has given me confidence to try new things in my classroom, inspiring me to push the envelope,” says Fine, describing a successful experimental project she facilitated this fall in her fourth grade class at Yavneh Day School in Los Gatos. Students in Fine’s classroom created a Siddur for a Maariv prayer service utilizing art, poetry, and letters to G-d. “I knew that trying something new might mean that it wouldn’t be perfect the first time, but I felt excited to begin,” commented Fine, whose student-created Siddur met great success upon completion.
“I feel so honored!” Fine exclaims. “Teachers work hard and the times to be recognized and appreciated are often few and far between.” It’s the little things like receiving a thank-you letter from an appreciative parent that keep her going. One parent wrote Fine to congratulate her on winning the award. Fine was so touched by the parent’s words of gratitude that she shared the letter at a faculty meeting. In the letter, the parent thanked Fine for “things I didn’t even know I had done.”
“This is why I teach!” she exclaimed.
Winning the award also gave Fine the chance to meet other outstanding educators in the field and listen to them reflect about their practice, which was inspiring. In addition, the award has connected Fine to the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund and inspired her to become more involved.
When Fine reflects upon her experience winning the award, she feels warmth in her heart, especially when she’s tired or at a low moment in the day. She thanks her colleagues for shining a spotlight on her contributions to the field and for respecting her work by nominating her, and she expresses her deep gratitude to the community for bestowing such an honor upon her.
If you know an outstanding educator you would like to nominate for the 2014 Helen Diller Family Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education, nominate online today. Nominations for this year’s awards close March 7.