PAJE pivots to offer virtual programs for educators

PHOTO: Rabbi Tzvi Fischer of the Portland Kollel has been teaching educators how to teach children with dyslexia to read Hebrew for a decade.

Portland Area Jewish Educators has shifted both the content and logistics of this year’s professional development programs to meet the needs and reality of life during a pandemic.
“While this year is turning into a very different year than many of us had intended and hoped for, PAJE is still committed to provide high-quality professional development opportunities,” says Rachel Nelson, director of educational initiatives for the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland. “I’m excited we are able to offer virtual opportunities of relevance to our community.”
PAJE has planned three virtual programs beginning in August: Tech 101; Teaching Hebrew to Children with Dyslexia; and Positive Discipline for Early Childhood Educators. Additional opportunities are also being planned.
Tech 101
The first program, Tech 101 at 3 pm, Aug. 12, was created to help educators leverage distance learning with their students.
Portland Jewish Academy Technology Integration Specialist Matt Rosenberg will introduce educators to a variety of digital tools. He will also discuss best practices of distance learning and common pitfalls. 
“We will focus on tools that are free to use and available to use on a variety of platforms – Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, etc.,” says Rosenberg. He will introduce tools such as Flipgrid, Kahoot, Screencastify, Ed Puzzle, Peardeck and Biteable. “This training will introduce the tools and go over their function. This training will not be an exhaustive how-to for each of these tools.”
Rosenberg, who also serves as PJA athletic director, assists teachers to ensure technology integrated into the PJA’s instructional program both enhances student learning and provides a learning environment where students develop a skill set of technological proficiencies. 
“It is my hope that you will find one or two of these tools that you want to try to incorporate into your classes to allow your students to demonstrate their understanding in new and creative ways,” says Matt.
Register here.
Positive Discipline Workshop for Preschool Educators
 Positive Discipline Workshop for Preschool Educators was originally planned as an in-person program in the spring. The 8-week program will be 6:30-9 pm, Tuesdays, Aug. 18-Oct. 6, on Zoom.
The cost for the workshop is $325. Jewish Federation of Greater Portland will be subsidizing the cost so that it will be $225 per participant for local educators. Participants will earn recognition as Certified Positive Discipline Early Childhood Educators and 20 licensure hours (Set 2) for attending all 8 weeks.
The course will be facilitated by Steven Foster, a Positive Discipline Lead Trainer and a licensed clinical social worker. He has worked with young children and their families in Portland for more than 30 years. While working in an early intervention program for children with special needs, he and the staff adapted Positive Discipline practices to use with young children with a variety of special needs. Now semi-retired, he teaches Positive Discipline’s democratic approach to parenting and in schools in the United States and internationally. He is a co-author of Positive Discipline for Children with Special Needs and Positive Discipline for Early Childhood Educators. 
Registration closes Aug. 7. Register here.
Teaching Hebrew to Children with Dyslexia
Teaching Hebrew to Children with Dyslexia had been planned as an eight-day, in-person program and will now be virtual. The course will include both prerecorded materials and live virtual lessons and training Aug. 16-20 for educators who want to ensure that every student can learn to read and write Hebrew. 
Rabbi Tzvi Fischer of the Portland Kollel has been teaching this course for a decade. His research on the latest methods for Hebrew reading and dyslexia research continually add to the course.
“Our kids with dyslexia and specific language-processing challenges have always struggled to learn Hebrew – some of them struggle to read English, too,” says Mel Berwin, director of congregational learning at Congregation Neveh Shalom. Berwin has been instrumental in planning the Portland program. “We know it’s not just a matter of giving the child a tutor – we need to learn how to teach Hebrew in the unique, multi-sensory way that works for these children. I am prioritizing this training so that all of our teachers can teach in a way that works for all of our children, including those with dyslexia, whether online or in person. This year, when our kids need community connection and purposeful learning more than ever, I refuse to let our children with specific learning needs fall behind.” 
This Orton-Gillingham based program has been developed for Hebrew by experts in the field of reading instruction and incorporates Structured Literacy and research-based language education. The MultiSensory Reading and Writing course is usually a 50-hour teacher training. For the first time, an abridgment of this course, over 30 hours, is available virtually to educators in Portland and the broader West Coast.  
Cost of the program is $1,000 per participant or $850 for Portland Area Jewish Educators. Since there is a set amount to run the class, if a sufficient number of people sign up, the cost per person will decrease. Registration is due Aug. 7. Register here.
For details, contact Rachel at


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