Listen first.

One of my favorite ways to help my staff team get to know one another is through writing. With each new staff, I have my students write a ‘Where I am From’ poem. These are easy poems from a template. Yet, I’ve seen my students display such creativity with their words through this medium. For the past few years I’ve compiled the poems and printed them to make a book for each staff member.

I think it is so important to understand the context each person comes from in order to work together. When others disregard my context or don’t feel the need to first understand me as a whole person, I feel small and insignificant to them. In supervising I always seek to listen first.


I am from Shabbat candles, from High Holy Days and unanswered prayers.

I am from keeping up with appearances. From perfection on the outside & chaos within. From yells, screams and too much emotion behind the suburban white picket fence.

But, I am from Æbleskiver Day and kindhearted, well- meaning men, from Frohlich’s and Shapiro’s who never gave up on their dreams.

I am from the books that became safe places and taught me how to live. I am from reading, writing & creating.

From ‘you can be anything, except that’ and never good enough, ‘too much, too big, too this, too that…’

I am from praying to the porcelain god one too many times. Running, counting, pushing, pulling.

From learning silence.

I’m from a community of activists who taught me not to be afraid to speak out even if my voice shakes. From protests, grassroots action and empowerment.

From living honestly & for me; I am from my chosen family.