SPOTLIGHT ON Interning at Prizmah

The etymology of the word intern stems from the Italian word internus meaning within, or inward, and the French word interne meaning assistant doctor, over time diffusing into other professions and taking on the meaning of any professional acquiring practical experience. Being an intern comes with the connotation of being a beginner, a trainee. However, the Hebrew word for intern, îÏúÙîÌçËä, comes from the root î.ç.ä, meaning one who is already on his or her way to becoming an expert. The Hebrew emphasizes the end goal of expertise. After working at Prizmah for the past year, a few things became clear: To be an expert in the field, you need to take charge of your own potential, evaluate the effectiveness of evolving communication and provide for yourself the right mentor.

One of my responsibilities was setting up the program for the network weavers at the Prizmah Conference. These individuals, volunteers from the field, were responsible for making meaningful connections between conference-goers in order to strengthen potential partnerships, seek out common themes and fulfill professional development needs that they requested. The experience of brainstorming what this role would be taught me that there is always someone you can use as a resource. We are never alone in the work that we are doing, no matter how innovative we think our ideas may be. While we are enjoined with responsibilities, we are also responsible to enlist the resources of those around us.

Another role I took on was helping to set up meetings to inform the day school community of Prizmah’s new strategic plan. Since we were working with various communities in multiple time zones, this process revealed the challenges with remote communication, even with its flexibility. Remote work and communication actually requires more “physical” presence for relationship development to occur. As Rabbi Charlie Savenor, a mentor of mine, once said, the biggest mistake of those coming out of school is waiting to respond to emails before final decisions or answers have been decided. Instead, respond immediately. Another mentor, Nancy Parkes, said she relies on finding moments of humor within online platforms to build relationships. With new advancements in technology, we need to consider what types of environments will create the strongest relationships to foster collaborative work.

When I worked on creating excursions for the conference, we developed opportunities for day school professionals to attend The Ron Clark Academy, the Center for Puppetry Arts, Civil Right tours of the Atlanta community and The Lab School. We began by asking ourselves the question of whom we can learn from, within our own infrastructure and outside of it. How can we make the world our classroom? We were dedicated to reveal the value of partnership, encouraging our educational institutions to partner with interfaith, intergenerational and social justice communities to enhance the curricular and cultural experience they are providing to their students.

The need to expand knowledge, skills and experiences also comes with the responsibility to continuously seek out the proper mentors and professional development opportunities so that day school leaders can have meaningful experiences and conversations that contribute to their own professional and personal growth.

Thank you to my mentors Elliott Rabin, Debra Shaffer Seeman and the entire Prizmah team for welcoming me into your community and giving me the tools to deepen my knowledge and expertise in our Jewish communal work.

Hallie Chandler
Deepening Talent