PASSIONATE PROFESSIONAL WHO LOVES WHAT SHE DOES
MIRI Ickowicz, 26, graduated this summer from the London School of Jewish Studies’ Schools Direct scheme, which enabled her to qualify on the job as a Jewish studies teacher at JFS.
“I love people and interacting with people,” she said. But she did not enter the profession straight away. After a degree in health and social care from the Open University, she went on to a two-year course offered by the Association of Accounting Technicians.
“I thought to have a practical job, where I could work from home because I had a little one. I love maths so I thought I’d train to be a bookkeeper or accountant.”
But alone with the ledgers did not prove fulfilling. “I did it for a bit but it did my head in, because I had no interaction with human beings.”
Her experience of taking cheder classes at South Hampstead Synagogue convinced her that teaching was her forte. She found a Jewish-studies job in a Jewish primary for a year and then, after maternity leave for her second child, she saw an advert for JFS — “I thought: ‘that’s so me.’”
Although she comes from a more Orthodox background as a product of Menorah High School, she wanted to teach a broader mix of students. Joining in February 2016, she
“loved it straight away.
It was a challenge and certain year groups were more challenging, mainly year nine — they were at that awkward age, they are not GCSE but they are not ex-primary school kids, either.” When she joined the LSJS training course last autumn, she increased her days from three to four.
“It is always better to be qualified at something if you are doing it,” she said. “I thought I had room to grow.”
The part-time course included talks from experts on various topics from behaviour management to adapting to children’s strengths, visits to other schools and exercises within school, such as “following a student around one day to see what their day would be like”.
Qualifying has given her “more confidence”, she said. “Last year, before I was qualified, I had those days when I was not sure. Now I know I am doing it right. There is still more to learn but I do know I am on the right track.”
It has helped her to push pupils more and get them to think more deeply. The sixth-formers she teachers are “amazing”, she said, and parents are generally “supportive”. Sometimes, she will invite pupils home for a Shabbat meal. “There is so much potential, especially once they reach year 10 and 11.
“People said to me that, now I was qualified, I could teach English or history and asked if I would be interested. I said it’s not just about the teaching, it’s about the fact that I love what I teach. I am passionate about Judaism.”
Aspiring to rise higher in the profession, she certainly doesn’t regret her change of career. “I enjoy it, I am excited. You don’t get the same satisfaction with numbers, do you?”
I love what I teach, I am passionate about Judaism’