More than 100 well-wishers attended the Educators’ Gala at Temple Beth El in Springfield on May 28, at which four outstanding teachers received Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation: Esther Benari-Altmann of Temple Anshe Amunim in Pittsfield; Rabbi Yosi Eisen of OU-JLIC-Hillel at UMass Amherst, Chelsea Smith of Heritage Academy in Longmeadow, and Dr. Nicole Brackman of the Hebrew High School of New England in West Hartford, Conn. HGF President Winnie Sandler addressed event attendees and presented the awards along with Western Mass Director Sue Kline, who moderated the event.
Brackman, who teaches history, was also named the 2015 Regional Grinspoon Award Winner. She is one of 39 awardees from communities throughout North America. Six among them will be named national winners at the NewCAJE conference August 2-5 in West Hartford, Conn.
Also recognized at the Educators’ Gala were six who are retiring this month: from Heritage Academy, Lead Administrator Lauren Life, Middle School Social Studies & Grade 6 Math Teacher Christine Heath, and Educational Consultant/Mentor Aileen Kramer; from LYA, Library & Media Specialist Joanne Meyer; from the Jewish Community of Amherst, Education Director Jody Rosenbloom; and from Gan Keshet Preschool at Congregation B’nai Israel in Northampton, Director Wendy Stein.
Now a biannual award given in 2015 for the 19th time, the Grinspoon Awards for Excellence honor up to four educators with a plaque and a generous check from HGF. Since 1996, the awards have been presented to 77 educators, many of whom were present this year to honor colleagues and peers.
CAP: Shown here, from left to right, are the four educators honored by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation in 2015: Dr. Nicole Smith, Chelsea Smith, Rabbi Yosi Eisen and Esther Benari-Altmann.