Sara Duani, the Jewish Studies Curriculum coordinator and a Jewish Studies teacher at Yeshiva Har Torah, is a recipient of The Jewish Education Project Young Pioneers Award.
In awarding her the honor, the Jewish Education Project, formerly known as the Board of Jewish Education, noted Duani’s ability to employ a unique, multi-modal approach, based on Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligence, in order to reach and inspire diverse groups of learners, all entirely in Hebrew.
Morah Sara, as her students know her, grew up in Great Neck, the daughter of Rabbi and Rabbanit Manasseh, respected educators in their own right. She credits her parents for raising her in a home that “served the community with love and emphasized educating and instilling high values in future generations.” She also credits Rabbi Menchel, the school principal, and her mentors at Yeshiva Har Torah for modeling teaching practices, encouraging her to take risks in her teaching and fostering a school-wide focus on collaboration and progressive education.
Rabbi Menchel called the award a “fitting tribute,” noting that the school is “so proud that one of a number of rising stars within our school is being recognized for her extraordinary contribution to Yeshiva Har Torah and to Jewish education.”
In addition to her responsibilities as a first-grade Jewish Studies teacher and curriculum coordinator, Duani also serves as the faculty advisor for the Names, Not Numbers program, which allows Yeshiva Har Torah middle school students to interview Holocaust survivors and create documentary films from their stories.
Yeshiva Har Torah, based in Little Neck, serves approximately 675 girls and boys in grades N to 8 from all over Queens and Nassau, including Great Neck. Duani’s approach to teaching is consistent with Yeshiva Har Torah’s philosophy: to educate children in a warm, caring environment that brings out the unique qualities in their students. This focus, along with the continued success of its graduates, has resulted in a demand for entry in recent years.
Duani will be honored along with four other pioneers at a gala on May 17 in Manhattan. Nominees for the award come from institutions across educational settings and religious denominations. Recipients were chosen by a committee of lay leaders and educators in the field.