Jenn Segall: Israel Teaching Fellows Alumna

Maase Olam

After Jennifer Segall graduated with a master’s degree in Elementary Education from George Mason University, she was looking for her next steps. She had gone on Taglit-Birthright in 2008 and always wanted to go back to Israel, but didn’t know how. When her rabbi sent her an e-mail about Israel Teaching Fellows, she knew she had found the right program. “This program involves teaching, Israel, and learning Hebrew. It was perfect timing for me,” Jenn explained.

After a year in Israel Teaching Fellows, she agrees that “if you can teach Israeli kids, you can teach anyone.” It wasn’t easy teaching English when she didn’t know Hebrew. “I used pictures a lot in the beginning. I’d say ‘I like’ and then draw something, and teach them the word in English...Tone of voice was also really important when communicating. I wanted to make sure my students were comfortable with me.” Jenn is hoping to use the communication and teaching skills that she developed in Israel in her future career in education. She’s currently looking for work in elementary education in Virginia, and is excited to continue teaching.

Looking back on her year, Jenn is so grateful for the experience. “I got to work with kids for ten months. I got to learn more about Israeli society. The Israeli peers were fantastic. They made it easier to adjust to Israeli society.” With Ma’ase Olam, Israel Teaching Fellows partner with an Israeli peer group who volunteer and learn about social issues with the English-speaking fellows.

Thinking ahead to the fellows who will start their Ma’ase Olam adventure in August, she has a few pieces of advice: “Start studying Hebrew ahead of time!” Jenn also suggests that the fellows “take time to plan your classes. It may take more time, but the kids will know when you don’t know what you’re doing, and they’ll walk all over you.” Finally, she urges next year’s group to “soak up the experience!”