Staff Spotlight Profile

Staff Spotlight

Patricia Gradel, 1st Grade Judaic Studies Teacher, grew up in a strong Jewish community in Buenos Aires, Argentina. A Jewish day school student herself, Patricia knew that she would want to share this experience, and her deep love of Judaism, with students around the world. To further these efforts, Patricia received a Bachelors in Education, and a Masters in Psychology from the University of Buenos Aires while simultaneously studying at The Zalman Shazar Center to receive certifications as a Jewish Educator and Hebrew Teacher in Elementary Education.

After completing her degrees and certifications in Argentina, Patricia and her husband moved to Israel to continue their studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Patricia participated in a senior level program at the Melton Center for Jewish Education where she received a Masters in Jewish Education.

Patricia then moved to Barranquilla, Columbia, where she and her family lived for five years. Her husband, Rabbi Fabian Werbin, currently of Congregation Beth El in Bethesda, took up a position as a rabbi in Barranquilla while Patricia was a teacher at, and the head of the Hebrew department for, a local Jewish day school.

The family's next adventure took them to the United States, initially settling in Roanoke, Virginia. Due to the small Jewish community in Roanoke, there was no Jewish day school for Patricia to continue her work. Patricia worked at the local Hebrew school and became a tutor.

Looking for a larger Jewish community, and an area with Jewish day schools where they could send their own children, Patricia and her family found their way to Bethesda. "I strongly believe that a Jewish day school is the best Jewish education we can provide for our children," Patricia said. "It was always our dream to send our children to Jewish day school to provide them with a strong basis for their Jewish identity."

Patricia was thrilled to be able to work in a Jewish day school again and quickly found a position teaching Pre-Kindergarten at Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School. Wanting to be a part of the same day school community as her four children, who were attending CESJDS, Patricia made the move to become a 1st Grade Teacher and is now in the middle of her fourth year.

Teaching is the focal point of Patricia's love of children, psychology, and Judaism. "First and foremost, I like to live a Jewish life, and it's very important to me to share those values," Patricia said. "I want to help the students make connections between their family backgrounds, and what we are learning in school and I do this through storytelling." Patricia finds it extremely important to know each of her students, to have a relationship with each, and to work to find the specific way each student likes to learn.

The curiosity of her students, their inquisitiveness, and their sponge-like minds keep Patricia inspired each day in the classroom. "To see how much they have learned, especially in the Hebrew language, from their first day of school to the last is amazing."

Since Patricia began at CESJDS, she has experimented with and implemented different types of "blended learning" into her curriculum, where she uses traditional practices for teaching Hebrew and Judaics and in conjunction with more modern teaching tools available today, like the smart board. This practice is emphasized through the use of centers (small groups) in her classroom, where students have a rotation of several mini-lessons, some using traditional teaching methods, and others using more modern methods.

Outside of school, Patricia can always be found spending time with her family and giving back to the local Jewish community. She loves to read with her children, and practice reading in different languages. Patricia also loves cooking, singing, and dancing.

After traveling the world for her studies, and to find the right fit for her family, being a part of the CESJDS community has been very special to Patricia. "I feel blessed to be a part of this community where everyday I come in I get to share my passions and learn."

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