Some 23 years ago, Ms. Susan Sennett accepted what she thought would be a three-year job teaching history in a high school she hadn’t before known existed. After spending years as an attorney, a college-level law instructor and a mother, Ms. Sennett’s decision to become a teacher of the subject that encompassed her passion changed her own life and the lives of hundreds of ICJA students. “It was a three-year experiment and ended up a 23 love affair for this institution and its students,” says Ms. Sennett.
Since her start in 1993, Ms. Sennett’s passion for teaching history and art history has been contagious, and her dedication to her students has extended beyond the classroom. Through her depth of knowledge and her care for each and every student, she has inspired students in lessons in history and in life. We are honored to recognized Ms. Sennett’s dedication to ICJA as Educator of the Year at the Dr. Edward A. Crown Scholarship Dinner on Feb. 22.
In the class of 2000 yearbook dedication, students wrote, “We did not know that you would be the one who would instill the first sparks of hope, understanding, confidence and determination within each one of us. Ms. Sennett, you allowed us to explore the medieval times and understand the effects of World War II on society. You opened our eyes to the world of serfs, peasants, Elizabethan times, Henry VIII, and the Industrial Revolution. This education, though, went far beyond the simple classroom lecture. With shields, newspapers and oral presentations, our creativity and partnerships were allowed to thrive. You continually act as a role model, showing all those you encounter your concern for them.”
Over the years as faculty leader of Student Council, AIPAC, Israel Club, Panim and Model UN, Ms. Sennett’s influence over her students went far beyond the classroom. She has challenged her students and club members intellectually, morally and spiritually. She has demonstrated for our students how to think and act as moral and responsible citizens of the world, embodying our school’s character of a place that inspires bnei and bnot Torah to thrive in the modern world.
As for what she has offered her students, Ms. Sennett says, “I hear from students after they graduate that I am doing something worthwhile. I’m making a difference. I prepared them for college by teaching them to write analytically. I’ve taught them how to be passionate about a subject matter they didn’t even realize is important. What more can you ask for as a teacher?”
With all that Ms. Sennett has offered our students, she insists that it is she who has gained so much. “It’s the students that make my job fabulous.” She goes on to say, “I don’t live in this community, but it has accepted me and has rewarded me in so many ways, both professionally and personally. It’s given me respect and a sense that I’m making a difference. I feel the love, and that’s part of what makes coming here a joy.
Generations of ICJA students can say, as the yearbook dedication says, “We will always carry your lessons with us. Through your gentle but firm teaching style, we have recognized your kindness, love for teaching and your excellence as one of the finest educators we have ever had.”
We are creating a keepsake with messages and the names of students and alumni who want to send best wishes to Ms. Sennett. Please share your thoughts and memories in the form below to be included. Your contribution not only honors Ms. Sennett, but supports scholarship dollars for her future students.
To join us at the dinner, fill out the form below: