FindYourSummer.org Ambassador experience helped Stessa Peers elevate her work
For years, Stessa Peers had wanted to become a FindYourSummer.org Ambassador. She knew that learning about the more than 400 plus programs listed on FindYourSummer.org would help her students at Temple Beth-Abraham in Tarrytown, NY find enriching opportunities. But Stessa did not expect the FindYourSummer.org Ambassador training to change her career.
“The FindYourSummer.org Ambassador training has helped shape the way I now engage teens and younger kids,” Stessa said.
As a FindYourSummer.org Ambassador, Stessa and her Cohort spent six months learning about the hundreds of high quality domestic and international summer experiences for Jewish teens. Each month, FindYourSummer.org Ambassadors had a monthly webinar with directors from summer programs. Once ambassadors have spoken with 15 teens about summer programs, ambassadors receive $500 and their institutions receive $500.
During the first gathering of her FindYourSummer.org Ambassadors Cohort, Stessa had a realization. She had been approaching the art of student engagement wrong. Through FindYourSummer.org trainings, Stessa realized that the key to connecting with students was establishing personal relationships. She learned it was essential to create relationships with all youth affiliated with Temple Beth-Abraham, even if they were not regulars at Temple Beth-Abraham’s youth activities.
“Using the methods I learned, I was able to see things big picture and see that engagement doesn’t stop in the youth room. Engagement continues in the classroom and beyond. My approach is definitely more holistic now,” she explained.
Over the past year, Stessa met with 27 teens from her synagogue to talk about FindYourSummer.org programs. Her conversations were wide ranging. She learned about what career paths her teens wanted to pursue and how they envisioned living Jewishly as adults. “A lot of them were serious conversations,” Stessa said. Learning about her students’ future career and personal plans, helped Stessa recommend FindYourSummer.org programs that matched their interests. This summer, a student from Temple Beth Abraham is planning to intern at a 3D printing firm in Israel through the Next Steps Israel Internships. The internship will help the student come closer to his goal of becoming an engineer.
As summer 2019 begins to kick off, Stessa is grateful for her experience as a FindYourSummer.org Ambassador. The monthly webinars with professional staff from different Jewish summer camps, internship programs, and Israel experiences have been invaluable to her. She has acquired new techniques through learning sessions with the Jewish Teen Initiative in Boston and True to Life Traininig in the field of Jewish teen engagement. FindYourSummer.org Ambassador trainings have also functioned as a social and networking hub.
Though summer has not officially started, Stessa is already thinking about ways to prepare her students for summer 2020. “I definitely know that the next cohort of students is going to want to sign up for more FindYourSummer.org programs because they now know what’s out there,” she said. “The education in the scope of summer programs has been really incredible.”
Learn more and apply to be a FindYourSummer.Org Ambassador.
Gabriel Weinstein is a Project Manager, Digital Content and Communication for The Jewish Education Project.