TORONTO — Over the past 27 years, Charlotte Koven has seen her young students grow into adults, some of whom now bring their own children to Temple Sinai.
The principal of the temple’s Hebrew and religious school will end her career in Jewish education this month because her position will no longer exist, a consequence of the school restructuring and downsizing of its staff. Its director of education, Ira Schweitzer, is retiring and as of press time had not yet been replaced.
Koven, who recently turned 60, happened into a career in Jewish education almost 30 years ago when she was taking summer courses, out of interest, at Toronto’s now-defunct Midrasha L’Morim.
Most of her fellow students at the Midrasha’s summer courses were educators. One of the instructors assumed Koven was also a teacher and put her in contact with a friend at Temple Sinai who was hiring.
Koven, a native of Saint John, N.B., who has lived in Toronto since her university days, credits her years of leadership training as a teenager in the Young Judaea movement for much of the foundation she needed to work at Temple Sinai.
An alumna of Camp Kadima, she also attended YJ’s national leadership camps.
After graduating from York University with a BA in psychology and fine arts, Koven earned a child care diploma in social work at George Brown College to become what would now be called a child and youth worker.
More recently, Koven began an MA in counselling psychology and counselling at Yorkville University, a private university specializing in online programs, based in Fredericton. She expects to complete her degree next year and is planning to work with people suffering bereavement and loss, including loss of jobs, homes, relationships and loved ones.
For almost two years, she has been volunteering at Princess Margaret Hospital’s “Healing Beyond the Body” program, which supports cancer patients and their families.
Last month, the school at Temple Sinai hosted a celebration for Koven.
“What’s been wonderful, what I really cherish, is that parents, teachers and students have let me into their lives in a personal way,” she told The CJN. “That requires a certain amount of trust and mutual respect.
“It’s been an honour… and something I will carry with me.”
As an educator, Koven finds that “everything is a teachable moment.” She prefers to “have discussions” rather than inspire fear. “I guess I’m really sensitive to nobody leaving my office feeling worse than when they came in.”