I have a love-hate relationship with the word and all that it holds.
I had a wild ride through my 12 years of schooling, to say the least. I attended a brick and mortar until the end of first grade.
Then I was home-schooled.
I spent the grades fourth through eighth in front of a computer, attending a virtual school.
I went to two high schools, two years each.
I’ve met every kind of teacher, so many administrations.
I thought I hated learning when I was in twelfth grade. It was my last year of traditional schooling, and my brain never showed up for class.
I had no notes, other than for history.
I got good grades by cramming information from my friends notes before tests.
I worked – just enough.
Authority rubbed me the wrong way.
Let’s just say that the whole “good education” thing didn’t work for me. I grew a dislike for so many subjects, for the classroom, for teachers in general.
I remember, distinctly, telling a friend “If in two years, I am a teacher, I will know that I have failed at life.”
That’s how little I respected teachers. That’s how little I thought of their capabilities.
I attended a year long seminary, opting for a program that wasn’t overseas, allowing me an escape from dorm life and a chance at some independence.
That year changed my perspective, big time.
I suddenly discovered, at the age of 18 years old, that I love learning.
I love discovering, arguing, reading, researching and knowing.
I always thought I might enjoy learning if only I was smarter.
I discovered that year that I was perfectly smart enough. In fact, it didn’t matter how smart I was.
Of course, although my seminary was full of great teachers, I still couldn’t escape the bad ones, and there were some classes that reminded me dreadfully of high school. But the good ones were their saving grace by continuously reminding me what a beautiful world it can be if you keep learning.
It was that year that I began to grow more and more passionate about the world of education.
I realized how much was being held back from every child who was bored to tears in a classroom that isn’t working with him. I realized what a devastating tragedy it was every time a fourth or fifth grader complained about school.
I realized what school could be, and how miserably heartbreaking it was that it fell so short of it’s potential.
Subjects that held a wealth of fascinating information were being watered down to a point of insufferably uninteresting, losing students who in a different sort of classroom would drink it in.
It was around this time that I discovered an organization called the Menachem Education Foundation.
This week, I took part of my very first high-tension, 24 hour fundraising campaign.
It was a life changing experience, and as life goes, I learned a lot of things in the process.
If I have your number, or we are friends on Facebook, you were harassed by me for donations.
Sorry not sorry.
I’m sorry because I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of those texts and calls. It sucks. It’s annoying. We’d all like to have a never ending pool of money so that we could give to everyone who asks. Because there are so many causes worth giving to.
But now I know what it’s like to be on the other end. The asking end. The begging end.
I’m not sorry because you gave me a chance to yell in your face, to remove all social barriers and scream about a cause that I am passionate about.
You gave me the chance to find out just how much I care.
As I scrolled through my list of Facebook friends and phone contacts, I chose people who I know would understand why this cause is important. I chose people that will be effected by the results of this campaign. I chose people who it should matter to.
I didn’t just beg for money from those who will not benefit from the work of this organization. That would feel wrong.
But by going through everyone I’ve ever met, I discovered just how many people will and can benefit from this organization.
I had to put all my passion into words, into short texts, into phone calls. I had to make it clear to people what this was and why they had to give.
The line “It takes a village” never meant more to me than these two days.
It takes a village, my G-d. It takes a village to educate our children, to not waste their precious hearts and minds, to give them the priceless gift of a good education.
I’ve seen friends ripped apart by the Chabad school system. I’ve seen tears, anger, rebellion taken to new levels because of a teacher or member of administration.
Imagine, for a moment, if all those actions, all those emotions, were channeled into positive feelings because of a teacher or member of administration.
Imagine the passion those students would feel towards Judaism, towards learning, towards growth.
I care because my little brother, who is only in fifth grade, who is obsessed with science and encyclopedias, doesn’t like going to school.
I care because I never want to see the light go out of my children’s eyes because they don’t want to go to school because it’s boring, or frustrating, or not using all of their potential.
I care because my nephew is four years old, and everything he learns is so exciting to him. And I want it to stay that way forever.
I care because I believe that education can be far more than it is, and the time for it to change is now.
Being a part of the Charidy campaign forced me to recognize this, forced me to shout it from the rooftops, forced me to do embarrassing things for the sake of something much much greater than I was.
I stood alongside other incredibly passionate people who are doing so much for education, and I watched the campaign begin, and I watched it conclude, both with feelings of excitement and trepidation.
The future of education is in our hands.
It takes a village to educate our children, and today I discovered that the village is ready to work.