It was 1998 and Rabbi Chaim Trainer, the fourth-grade Judaic studies teacher at Yeshiva Rav Isacsohn in Los Angeles, was frustrated. The boys in his class couldn't get along; some were even picking on others. Rabbi Trainer looked for resources to help him address the bullying and fighting but came up empty-handed. Thus was born Project Resolve, Rabbi Trainer's conflict-resolution curriculum, and Shalom Secrets, an accompanying book, both of which empower children and provide them with tools to avoid and resolve common conflicts in their lives.
Shalom Secrets, which has been translated into Yiddish, has sold 15,000 copies and touched more than 40,000 students and families. Rabbi Trainer has presented his materials across the U.S. and Canada, including workshops for the BJE and the National Association of Hebrew Day Schools' annual conference.
Rabbi Trainer, who has spent 23 of his 27 years in education at Yeshiva Rav Isaacsohn, finds joy in creating learning materials and sharing his resources with other educators. He is currently adapting and expanding Project Resolve to meet the needs of students with significant social and emotional challenges, including children on the autism spectrum, coaching these students individually and in small groups after school. Rabbi Trainer also created a novel Hebrew reading program designed to improve students' fluency. He offers professional development to other educators on classroom management and maintaining student engagement. For the school's annual Mishkan Fair, Rabbi Trainer's students build models of articles of the Tabernacle and create booklets with stories of "miracles" in their lives. The boys perform Jewish songs at nearby nursing homes, to the great delight of the elderly residents.
Rabbi Trainer embraces the challenge of presenting age-old Jewish concepts to his fourth-grade students in ways that they find relevant and exciting. Above all, he wants his students to strive "to improve themselves and become closer to G-d," he says. "Every day is an opportunity to grow, and everything described in our precious Torah is to help us achieve that goal."
Note: This biography was current at the time this educator received the Award