Federation’s Jewish Education Collaborative (JEC) is proud to name the winners of the 2023 Sylvia Newman Memorial Teachers of the Year Award. This prize was established in 2021 by Howard Newnan in honor of his late wife, Sylvia. Sylvia’s passion was Jewish education, and she taught in a local religious school for many years.
The awards, which will be presented at Federation’s Annual Meeting on May 31, honors excellence in teaching at Atlanta’s supplemental religious schools. Excellence includes an ability to excite Jewish learners, creativity to implement innovative educational programs, serving as a role model for students, and demonstrating efforts to grow and improve in one’s teaching practice. The award honors both a veteran religious school teacher, Carey Grucza, and a newer teacher, Lauren Davis.
Carey Grucza teaches 4th grade at Temple Kehillat Chaim and has been teaching there for 15 years. She is an example of a teacher who always goes above and beyond. During Covid, she revolutionized the teaching strategies for the faculty at TKC, showing her colleagues how to make online learning interactive and fun. Since returning to in-person learning, Carey continues to create engaging, hands-on programs for students, expanding and improving upon existing curricula. Carey fosters a love of Jewish learning among her students and inspires everyone with whom she works, children and adults alike.
Lauren Davis teaches Judaics for 6th/7th graders and music education for Pre-K through 7th grade at Temple Kol Emeth. This was her third year in the congregation, and in a short time, Lauren transformed the TKE community with her positive energy and love for teaching. Even as a newer teacher herself, Lauren mentored other new teachers and song leaders. She also designed and implemented creative new music curricula for the school.
JEC and all of Federation salutes the incredible work of these educators. Supplemental Jewish education is a vital part of the fabric of Jewish Atlanta, and it is exceptional teachers like Carey and Lauren who bring Jewish learning to life.