This week, the Warrior Word sat down with Ms. Dana, a Hebrew Academy alumna from the class of 2016 and now a new Judaics teacher at the school. Get to know Ms. Dana as she talks about her affinity for teaching, her hobbies, and her Hebrew Academy experience over the years.
Naomi Ohana: Where were you born and raised?
Ms. Dana: I was born and raised in Aventura, Florida.
NO: Why did you decide to become a teacher? Was that always something you wanted to do?
MD: I think it was always something I wanted to do. You know when they would give you those sheets when you're in Kindergarten to write down what you want to be when you grow up? I think I always said I wanted to be a teacher. I always enjoyed it; I always looked up to teachers, especially my teachers at Hebrew Academy. I think even some teachers will tell you it was always pretty obvious that I was going to come back and work here. I think specifically at Hebrew Academy, the environment is very friendly and family like, and I love that. I’ve loved it ever since I was in high school and younger. I always loved instructing people. When we got the chance to present in front of the class in high school, or even in college, I always loved that. I always loved that energy, that feeling I got from that, so that’s why I wanted to be a teacher.
NO: That's really interesting! So is the environment what made you want to come back to Hebrew Academy?
MD: Yeah, the family vibe of Hebrew Academy definitely made me want to go back. I said this at graduation and I say this all the time: “Once a warrior, always a warrior.” That’s the thing, you are a part of the family, and whether you leave for a few years and come back, you are still a part of the family, and I still feel so close to the teachers and the students. I have a lot of siblings in my classes, and I love it, everyone’s family.
NO: How do you feel your previous experience at Hebrew Academy is beneficial to you now as a teacher?
MD: I think because I experienced the student side not too long ago, I know how the students feel. I know when they are feeling overwhelmed, how to help them, and how to guide them, while also challenging them and teaching them. I don’t want to push their limits too much because I know that they are taking nine classes. I know that sometimes it can be a lot on them. I am teaching Torah; I have a big privilege. It is something that is meaningful and applicable to their lives. I want to apply to their lives as much as I can and make it as relatable as I can. I think that because I went to Hebrew Academy, I am able to relate to the students in that way.
NO: Do you feel that the high school has changed a lot since you left?
MD: Well you guys are very lucky now. You have a block schedule, that’s amazing. We had nine classes a day, and it was very overwhelming, but still good. I haven’t seen high school from the teachers’ perspective in person, but I still see that sense of family, that sense of in-class feelings that my students feel comfortable to share and to interact with one another. I love that, I think it is a very unique thing to Hebrew Academy. Very small and tight knit.
NO: What are your hobbies?
MD: I love to bake and cook, and go on pretty walks and explore nature, hang out with friends, learn more Torah, and spend time with my family.
NO: What’s your favorite thing to cook?
MD: I like to bake more to be honest; I kind of cook because I have to. My favorite thing to bake? That’s a good question. I like to make gluten free goodies.
NO: That sounds so good! How would you describe yourself in three words?
MD: Loving, lighthearted, and passionate.
NO: That is all the questions I have, but is there anything you want to add?
MD: If you want to tell anyone, even if you are not in my class, you are always welcome to come to me with any questions or for any guidance at all, either about high school or about applying to seminary or college. I’ve been through that and I can totally help you, or anyone else through that!
NO: Was seminary always an option for you, or did you feel that Hebrew Academy paved that path for you?
MD: So something that probably many of you don’t know about me is that I actually grew up going to public school, and then I went to Hebrew Academy for high school. So actually, my family and myself became religious; we are baal teshuva. So because of that, I definitely never thought that I would go to seminary. I didn’t think about it actually until about 11th grade maybe; I never thought that I would be that type. I never thought that I would even be who I am today. Throughout the years of growing, definitely Hebrew Academy has been one of the major factors that made me grow and learn more about Judaism and want to become more Jewish and religious. It definitely guided me towards that, and definitely made me more passionate. I loved Hebrew Academy so much that I wanted to continue it. I wanted to go to Stern and I wanted to go to seminary, so from there I think it was really helpful and really inspirational.
NO: Thank you so much!
By: Naomi Ohana (11th Grade)