Beth Hillel Day School's youngest students thrive both academically and socially in Nelly Wisner's classroom. Mrs. Wisner, who teaches transitional kindergarten and kindergarten general studies, creates a nurturing and structured environment with lessons that are rigorous, engaging, interactive and inspiring. During her interactive calendar routine, children build leadership, math and executive functioning skills while boosting their confidence. The class tracks the passage of time through days, months and weeks, calculating the number of days of school past and remaining. They document the weather, mark birthdays and tally lost teeth, using charts and graphs to display information in both English and Hebrew. Students eagerly await their turn to serve as calendar leader, excited to help their classmates make sense of the data the class gathers.
Mrs. Wisner joined Beth Hillel in 2006 after volunteering in her son's classroom and realizing she was spending more time at school than working in the family's textile business. "I felt a calling to ensure that every child could have a positive educational experience in which they felt nurtured, valued, understood and inspired," she says. Mrs. Wisner joined the class as an assistant, thriving on the hands-on learning while studying child development at Los Angeles Valley College. She knows her move from the business world to the classroom was the right choice: "After the transition, I felt that I had found my calling."
Mrs. Wisner meets with parents at the start of the year to learn about her incoming students and drafts Individual Student Success Plans with academic, social and emotional goals. On Friendship Fridays, Mrs. Wisner works with the Hebrew teacher on lessons that reinforce "shalom bayit"--acts of kindness, giving compliments and inclusiveness. The goal: inspire students to love learning, nurture their strengths and talents, emphasize kindness and empathy, and foster an environment where the children lift each other up.
Note: This biography was current at the time this educator received the Award