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Education Director - Marcy Thomaswick

The 126 year-old Beth Israel congregation in Wallingford, and its Hebrew school, entered a new era in 2022 with the addition of educational director Marcy Thomaswick. 

A professional educator in both secular and religious subjects (K-12) for more than 25 years, Marcy is well-known throughout the greater New Haven region. Her Jewish teaching experience includes Ezra Academy (Woodbridge), Kol Ami (Cheshire), Makom Hebrew High School of Greater New Haven and the JCC of Greater New Haven.

Marcy holds a BA in English and a Masters in Education from Southern Connecticut State, an additional Masters in Teacher Leadership from Brandeis University, and a certificate in the Advanced Alternative Preparation Program for Remedial Reading and Language Arts from Albertus Magnus.

“The Beth Israel community is incredibly fortunate to have Marcy as our Educational Director and teacher,” said Phyllis Gordon, Beth Israel’s president.  “She brings experience, energy, intelligence, creativity, curiosity, a love of learning and a pure love of children to our community and our kids every week.”  

Marcy teaches students from all grades on Sunday and Rabbi Alpert teaches the older ones (3rd grade and up) on Tuesdays.

As a professional teacher, she has expertise in the pedagogy and science of reading, which applies to English as well as Hebrew learning. Throughout her curricula, she emphasizes social justice, social and emotional learning, and outdoor education, all tied in with Judaism. In addition, she is experienced in working with interfaith families.

“In order to allow students the maximum amount of growth, I provide them with hands-on, experiential activities with authentic problem solving and collaboration,” Marcy said. She added, “Education must encompass all parts of the student life: physical well-being, social/emotional growth, and positive interactions with the world.”

Marcy’s innovations in Beth Israel’s Hebrew school include having mixed grade levels collaborate together and enabling children to learn to work independently in a “flipped classroom” approach whereby students watch videos about parshiot at home and then discuss in class. She may include more opportunities for remote learning in the future.

Students also benefit from Marcy’s focus on hands-on creative engagement, enabling kids to learn through all their senses. One recent project included a group project where all the students created a miniature edible Sukkah, which especially engaged the older kids who had to follow the laws prescribing how to build the structure. Another one was the group creation of a two-dimensional matriarchs/patriarchs family tree using everyday materials.

As a member of Beth Israel Synagogue for more than five years, she has a deep affection for the cozy congregation and the venerable historic building and Hebrew school that have continuously served area families for well over a century.

 Marcy considers teaching Sunday school a sacred obligation. “I’m very lucky. I’ve found my passion as a teacher and a Jew,” she said. “I get to work with kids and have them experience Judaism as a joy as I do, so that their love goes beyond the Bar Mitzvah. I want them to know Judaism is not just going to synagogue, but also about mitzvoth, such as walking your dog or cleaning up trash. I connect it to the ordinary things we already do.”

Wed, April 17 2024 9 Nisan 5784