Those who can teach, must teach. That core Jewish value led Fruma Ita Schapiro into the classroom more than two decades ago after spending her summers on Jewish community outreach efforts. Mrs. Schapiro, currently in her 19th year as a Judaic studies teacher at Ohel Chana High School in Los Angeles, comes from a long line of educators and ancestors who valued education. Before she graduated from Brooklyn's Beth Rivka Seminary, Mrs. Schapiro met with the principal, who told her she should be teaching high school. She shares the vision of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who teaches that education is crucial, transformative and empowering for both teacher and students. "Learning and growing as a Jewish woman is forever," Mrs. Schapiro says, a value she tries to instill in the young women she teaches.
At Ohel Chana, Mrs. Schapiro's students delve into the texts and historical themes of the Prophets, examine world history from a Jewish perspective, and explore faith, Jewish ethics and the essence of Torah. Her classes span the period from the Cossack massacres through World War I. Mrs. Schapiro teaches sources that explore the future era of Redemption, including Maimonides, the talks of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and the prophets Yeshaya and Trei Osor. She strives to introduce important themes with thought-provoking activities and discussions. Mrs. Schapiro creates a classroom environment in which students can question freely and debate important issues, developing pride in their Jewish roots by connecting cultural and political history and millennia of Jewish tradition to their daily lives.
Mrs. Schapiro also connects Jewish history and values with the arts. As the school's extracurricular coordinator, Mrs. Schapiro serves as creative director, playwright and lyricist for Ohel Chana's biennial production, for which students work behind the scenes composing, choreographing, making props, designing scenery and costumes, and working the lights and sound board, as well as performing on stage. "It's been a special experience for me to direct shows with the girls," she says of her students. "There is nothing like seeing the girls come alive as they perform on stage."
Note: This biography was current at the time this educator received the Award