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Allison Cook, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Pedagogy of Partnership at Hadar, has won the prestigious Covenant Award.
Selected from hundreds of nominees, Allison was chosen for "meeting a complex moment in Jewish communal history with a powerful blend of courage, commitment, and compassion."
Pedagogy of Partnership(PoP) is a comprehensive Jewish method for teaching and learning based on havruta (one-on-one study), and the idea that the process of learning Torah resides in relationships – with texts, with the Jewish people, with one’s learning partner, and one's self. Since becoming part of the Hadar Institute in 2019, Pedagogy of Partnership has made an impact on the educational practice of hundreds of educators and the learning of thousands of students around the country.
In her role overseeing PoP, Allison, along with her Co-Director Dr. Orit Kent, has created a multi-year professional development program that provides instructional improvement coaching to teachers and educational leaders in schools, impacting the educational practice of hundreds of educators and the learning of thousands of students around the country. Allison also supports the work of Hadar’s Children and Families Division, including Devash, Hadar’s weekly parashah magazine for kids.
“I am honored and humbled to be recognized with this beautiful award - and in the company of such extraordinary past and present awardees who have impacted the field and my own learning,” said Cook, after receiving news that she would be a 2023 Covenant Award recipient.
“The PoP team and the growing PoP network of dedicated educators and leaders are working, day in and day out, to bring a vision of deep, relational Jewish learning to life with their students, families, and communities. I am so proud of what we are accomplishing together.”
Hadar also wishes a mazal tov to Rabbi Tamara Cohen, Chief Program Officer of Moving Traditions, and Nicole Nash, Head of School at Hannah Senesh Community Day School in Brooklyn, NY, the other winners of this year’s Covenant Awards. Read more about the Covenant Award on the Covenant Foundation’s website.
Hadar Institute is pleased to announce its new collaboration with Pedagogy of Partnership (PoP), an innovative methodology for teaching and learning that trains teachers to significantly improve the experience of Jewish text learning and relationship-building. Over the last six months, PoP, now powered by Hadar, has garnered support from the William Davidson Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies, the AVI CHAI Foundation and Mayberg Foundation, totaling over $1 million for the next 2 years.
What Is Pedagogy of Partnership (PoP)?
PoP is run by Dr. Orit Kent and Allison Cook, both of whom are pedagogical experts with years of experience in Jewish education. PoP is an approach to Jewish learning focused on the principle that how we learn is as important to learning as what we learn. PoP’s method is based on the idea that the process of learning Torah resides in relationships – with Jewish text and tradition, with the larger Jewish community, with one’s learning partner (havruta) or classmates, and with ourselves. The PoP model developed out of close analysis of havruta study, (1-on-1 conversation-based partner learning, using the analysis of a Jewish text as the basis for discussion), which epitomizes exactly what we seek to cultivate: true engagement with Torah and a deep respect for other people. PoP guides participants to engage in a process that promotes meaningful conversation wherein Torah becomes part of who we are and how we see the world.
Hadar strongly believes in the power and potential of PoP’s approach, and has partnered with PoP to give it the national audience that it deserves - and thus enrich Jewish education. This includes bringing PoP to new cities, where it can have a dramatic impact on local schools and developing a cadre of exceptional PoP coaches who can support schools and teachers on the ground.
Hadar and PoP - A History of Collaboration, a Future of Growth
Hadar and PoP have already and continue to run several programs together over the past decade, including a 4.5-day immersive program in New York for Jewish educators that is offered every summer, and a PoP Fellowship, a two-year program that is currently at four day schools, with the goal of school-wide implementation of PoP’s approach to teaching and learning. This program was funded through a collaboration of the AVI CHAI Foundation, the Kohelet Foundation and the Mayberg Foundation.
The four schools currently participating in the PoP Fellowship are:
- Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital (Washington, DC)
- Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston (Boston, MA)
- Luria Academy of Brooklyn (Brooklyn, NY)
- Oakland Hebrew Day School (Oakland, CA)
Now that we have successfully launched the Fellowship program, and see how the PoP model creates change, we seek to bring it to additional educators and schools in new cities – most immediately in Detroit and Chicago. In addition, the Jewish Education Initiative Challenge will support PoP in its continued scaling across North America by developing a training program for additional coaches.
“This is an exciting partnership,” say Cook and Kent. “Hadar and PoP share a deep commitment to promoting an empowered Judaism, which includes guiding students of all ages to become increasingly skilled in engaging with one another and with Torah. It is important to all of us to help learners grow not only intellectually, but also ethically and spiritually, and to experience this wholeness in their learning.”
Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, Hadar’s President and CEO, says “Hadar has long sought to strengthen Jewish day school education across the country. Now, through this partnership, I am very excited about our ability to improve the depth, quality, and nuance of Jewish learning - as well as the skill of forming real relationships - in classrooms across the country. Powered by Hadar, PoP will be able to reach a far wider audience. This is a win-win for Hadar, PoP, and the larger Jewish community.”
These remarks were delivered by Allison Cook, co-founder and co-director of Hadar’s Pedagogy partnership, at the Covenant Awards dinner on Wednesday, November 8, 2023.
Thank you to the Crown Family and the Covenant Foundation for this wonderful honor. And Mazal Tov to Tamara and Nicole; I am honored to be counted in your company.
Ani v’atah neshaneh et haolam
Ani v’atah, az yavo’u kvar kulam
Amru et zeh kodem lifanai, zeh lo mishaneh
Ani v’atah neshaneh et haolam …
You and I will change the world…
This song, by beloved Israeli singer-songwriter Arik Einstein, expresses the conviction that people, together in relationship, have the power to change the world. I grew up singing this song in Young Judaea, arms linked and swaying with several of you sitting here today. From a young age I was taught that Jewish education is about no less than this: changing the world.
There is a tension in the field of education about whether we should be focused on preparing students for the real world–the world that is, or whether we should be preparing students for the world that ought to be. All of us sitting here today in the world-that-is know deeply that the distance between these worlds remains vast.
Yet, I believe that Jewish learning gives us tools–skills, knowledge and the imagination to map our way and travel along that distance.
In Pedagogy of Partnership we study a story from the Talmud with our educators. It is a story about teaching and learning Torah that culminates with the Heavenly Voice offering a teacher a reward: The reward of meriting the World to Come–or perhaps for our purposes, the world-that-ought-to- be.
What did this teacher do to draw this Divine recognition?
The Gemara states that the teacher, Rav Perida, had a student to whom he would repeat each lesson four hundred times until the student understood it. One would think that Rav Perida is being rewarded for this extraordinary patience. But we do not hear from the Heavenly Voice until one day, when the student was not able to learn.
It is on this day when Rav Perida asks his student “why, what is different now?” Knowing that his teacher was needed elsewhere, the student feared that his teacher would get up and leave him and so he could not concentrate. Rav Perida reassured his student. He stayed with him. And taught him again 400 times.
The Heavenly Voice seems to be responding to something beyond the quantity of the repetitions. Rather there is a new quality of presence that draws God’s blessing. Perhaps this is the Torah taught and learned:
When teachers and students are truly committed to being fully present for one another, opening themselves to Torah, –this true havruta that we form, creates in this world-that-is just a little bit of the world-that-ought-to-be.
I am here today because of the sacred presence I experienced in my own Jewish education–from that of my family, my teachers, my friends and colleagues, and my students. I am deeply appreciative.
Me and you can change the world. Az yavo’u kvar kulam… by then everyone will follow. As Orit and I like to say, “one havruta at a time.”