January 22, 2020 — Samis Foundation Master Teacher Award Recognizes Exceptional Excellence in Jewish Education

For the first time in five years, the coveted Rabbi Dr. William H. Greenberg z”l Master Teacher Award has been awarded by the Samis Foundation to HaMorah Nance Adler, a teacher at the Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle. The $20,000 award goes to a teacher in Seattle, who has worked in a Jewish Day School for at least 10 years and whose exceptional creativity, commitment, and innovation has made a significant impact on their school and the Jewish community at large.

The Samis Foundation established the Master Teacher Award in 2011 in honor of Rabbi Dr. William Greenberg z”l, the first rabbinic trustee of the foundation. The award honors exceptional hands-on Judaic classroom teachers, who serve as charismatic role models and are known and respected by peers, parents, and pupils as masters of their craft. HaMorah Nance will receive the award at the 2020 JDS Auction and Gala on March 15, 2020.

In establishing this award, the Samis Foundation aims to recognize and encourage excellence in Jewish education in Seattle and Washington state.

Criteria for selection include an educator who is respected by peers, parents and pupils as a “Master Teacher,” creates a hands-on classroom teaching environment, interacts on a personal level with students (and their families) outside the formal classroom setting, serves as a charismatic role model to students for Jewish ethics, values and love of learning, has completed 10 years or more of teaching in a Samis-supported day school and is a respected and active member of the Jewish community.

“HaMorah Nance is an exemplary educator, and we are so gratified to honor her achievements and contribution to Jewish education in Seattle and beyond,” said Connie Kanter, Chief Executive Officer of Samis. “Teachers are too often the unsung heroes of our community. This award allows us to recognize the tremendous impact Judaic educators have, inspiring future generations with a strong and vibrant Jewish identity, commitment and passion for Jewish education.”

A JDS teacher since 2005, HaMorah Nance has taught every grade from Kindergarten through 8th grade, but now calls middle school her home. Specializing in Judaic studies, she teaches Jewish history, Living Jewish Text, Theology, and Jewmanities, and leads the capstone 8th Grade Israel Experience at the Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle. HaMorah Nance is known for her innovative use of stories, films, and personal experiences to make Jewish culture come to life for her middle school students.

HaMorah Nance has written numerous articles about her curriculum and teaching approach.  She co-authored a chapter titled “Creating Upstanders” for the book It’s Being Done in Social Studies, which focuses on how teachers teach hard topics through Social Studies curriculum. She created her own curriculum for teaching the history of the rise of Hitler and Nazism in Germany in the 1930s which has been published in English and Russian. 

HaMorah Nance has a passion for the study of the Holocaust and is a Museum Teacher Fellow in the 2014 cohort at the US Holocaust Museum Memorial, and a Powell Fellow at Seattle’s Holocaust Center for Humanity where she serves on their Teacher Advisory Board. Nance has worked extensively with Centropa – an organization in Europe that works to document the history of Jews in Central and Eastern Europe in the 20th century. 

This year Nance received a grant from the Department of Cultural Affairs of the US State Department to travel to Perth, Australia. She spoke to classrooms, community centers, Jewish community groups and synagogue groups about creating a culture of Upstanders in her classroom at JDS.

Samuel Israel created the Samis Foundation to support Jewish education in Washington State and initiatives in Israel. Over the past 25 years, the Foundation has given more than $90 million in grants, ensuring that Jewish children have access to affordable, quality Jewish education. In Seattle, the Foundation provides funding to seven Jewish day schools. Read more about the Samis Foundation’s Jewish Day School grantees here.