As part of the capstone project for her master's degree, Cherie Friedman developed a Social Justice Awareness Program for Kadima Day School in West Hills. The program "helps students understand and practice tikkun olam [repairing the world]," says Miss Friedman, who serves as Kadima's K-8 associate director and teaches fifth grade general studies. She also brought restorative justice practices to Kadima, addressing conflict by repairing harm and restoring relationships: "Restorative practices create a culture of kindness, respect, responsibility and justice."
Born to an observant family in South Africa, Miss Friedman's background sharpened her focus on social justice. She attended Jewish preschool and day school, studied Torah and Talmud, and was steeped in Jewish history like the Crusades and the Holocaust. She couldn't reconcile learning about intolerance and discrimination against the Jewish people while living under South Africa's apartheid policies. Miss Friedman knew early on that she would pursue a career in education, earning a bachelor's in primary education in 1989 from University of Cape Town and a master's in teaching from American Jewish University in 2019. She has spent 32 years as an educator: "I wanted to help others make the connection between what we as a people have endured and what we need to impart. I knew I wanted to educate Jewish students about how they can raise awareness and prevent further discrimination and intolerance in this world."
Now in her 10th year at Kadima, Miss Friedman serves as the K-8 associate director, looking after students' overall academic, social and emotional progress. A member of Kadima's senior administrative team, she supports and mentors new faculty, participates in hiring, organizes professional development, and fosters teacher collaboration and learning differentiation. The STEAM lab, technology integration, parent communication, community events, curriculum, assessments, field trips and after-school programs: All of these fall under Miss Friedman's purview. She strives to help students "become involved, active, independent learners and problem-solvers who connect their learning to the issues that are relevant to their communities and the world at large."
Note: This biography was current at the time this educator received the Award