When Tammy Shpall told her parents she wanted to be a teacher, they rejoiced and told her they knew it was meant to be. Working with children and teaching has been part of Mrs. Shpall's life for as long as she can remember, from babysitting as a teen, to 25 summers at Camp Alonim, to a long career as a Jewish day school educator. "Teaching and touching the souls of our Jewish youth has been my passion," says Mrs. Shpall, now in her 27th year of teaching and 13th year at de Toledo High School in West Hills.
Mrs. Shpall has three primary areas of responsibility at de Toledo. She teaches eleventh grade U.S. history, seamlessly infusing Jewish values, wisdom and community. "The best part of my day is walking into my classroom and seeing the 20 eager faces, ready to learn and discuss the issues," she says.
As the ninth-grade dean, a role she pioneered at de Toledo, Mrs. Shpall ensures that the 100-plus freshman students receive a top-quality education, both Jewish and secular. She helps students with the transition into high school, provides expert guidance for the range of social-emotional challenges faced by young teens, and prepares them for the academic and personal growth ahead as they continue through high school. And as de Toledo's dean of grade-level deans, Mrs. Shpall works with her colleagues to ensure that all of de Toledo's students get the same level of academic and personal guidance. Mrs. Shpall also serves as a parenting expert, calmly helping parents learn to understand and deal with their teenagers. The school's first ParentEd Day earlier this year included a Sunday morning program with a keynote speaker and breakout sessions on topics important to de Toledo's parents; Mrs. Shpall is currently planning ParentEd Day 2017.
What does Mrs. Shpall want her students to learn from her? It's more about values than content. "I hope I instill a love of learning, thinking and understanding," she says. "I hope to help them find their authentic, kind, thoughtful selves and to learn that it is as important to be a good person as it is to be a good student."
Note: This biography was current at the time this educator received the Award