You Should Know … Samantha Halle

Samantha Halle
Samantha Halle (Courtesy of Samantha Halle)

Samantha Halle, 28, loves teaching preschoolers about Judaism and respecting others.

Halle started working last August as a pre-K teacher at Beth El Congregation of Baltimore, where she went to preschool herself. On Jan. 3, Halle started a new position as the assistant director of the preschool at the synagogue.

Halle has a degree in family science and human services with a concentration in services to children and youth from Towson University.

How would you describe your relationship with Judaism?

I think it’s awesome. I think Judaism within the whole is really interesting. I went to Beth El and then to Hebrew school and got bat mitzvahed at Beth Israel. I went to Capital Camps, which is a Jewish-based camp, for five years. It was the best time of my life, and I remember so much more of the Jewish culture from going to that camp. I even got to host some of the Israelis who traveled from Israel to Capital Camps in my house. I always struggled as a kid to understand Jewish culture because it was a completely different language. However, as I got older and could read Hebrew, I started to understand the background. This intrigued me to learn more and give back to my community. While I do not belong to a synagogue currently, I know that I will join a synagogue when I get married and have children.

What will you do in your new position?

I will work alongside the director of the preschool. I will do a lot of administration and behind-the-scenes things. The big plans we have involve curriculum and [coming] up with more hands-on activities with kinesthetic learning. We want to get the kids outside more and out of their comfort zones. I am coming in with a lot of creativity because that is my strong suit. I am tweaking things, finding more trainings and trying to expand. We want to really hone in on the Judaism part and expand that as well within our program.

How do you feel about your transition from teacher to administrator?

I am excited, I am anxious, but I am super comfortable. I am strong on the computer and planning things. I feel like I am taking what I can do in the classroom and expanding it throughout the whole entire program.

Do you believe that there is a stigma around teaching?

Yes, surrounding all aspects of it. People judge who I am supposed to be in school versus out of school, how much work I am supposed to do and take on as well as the different levels of respect teachers deserve. At the end of the day, we all went to grade school. You can’t be a doctor or a lawyer without going to school, and the people who teach those people are teachers. I feel like we should be treated gently and given more compassion. We all know what we know from some teacher at some point in our lives.

What are some active things people can do to show teachers they care?

I think having more patience helps. People should try and understand that we are doing our best to give your child 110% all day and every day. The past couple of years have been a struggle for everybody. So a little more compassion goes a long way. If you are frustrated because you think we can’t get things done, we are frustrated because we do not have the resources and the means. We may be superheroes, but we have to hang up the cape sometimes.

How do you educate your students on current events and activism?

At 4 and 5 years old, a lot of our job is their daily development. With development comes respect, integrity and responsibility. These are all of the fundamentals to make you the best tiny human that we can make you. I am all about the relationship and the talks. If one of my kids wants to know something, I am going to give them the appropriate response for their age. I am not going to talk to them like a baby or use little nicknames. I am going to tell them the facts to a level that they can understand. Our school is very diverse, and you do not have to be Jewish to come to our school. My children have never said that they think certain kids are different because of race or religion. If I can raise a nice kind human being who doesn’t judge a person by their color but by their heart, I am doing my job.

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