“Always with a smile on her faec.”

Written by : Mushki Neubauer

“Just feeling cared for and understood”

My nominee is in fact not a past teacher of mine, however it was someone who you would see every day for four years as you came into Beis Rivkah high school, secretary/assistant principal Mrs. Lipskier.

Mrs. Lipskier was the keeper of the keys, the entry person whom you’d needed permission for coming and going into school. Although being high school students we did find ways to sneak in unawares (only during davening time IF you were able to go through the lunchroom entrance and then slip into shul through the back door! If you know you know!) generally there were very specific and harsh rules on punctuality and absences. The consequences being detention, which nobody wanted.

Being a teenager, at that time in my life it felt like most figures of authority were either out to get me or indifferent to me, not knowing my name in a vast sea of green and white high school girls. Mrs. Lipskier was different. She was there for you, quick to offer the use of her phone, listen to your excuses for being late, and understand why you might need to leave school unexpectedly. Always with a sweet smile on her face.

One such memorable time is when I was experiencing worse than usual period cramps during school. I don’t recall if I explicitly stated the reasons why I needed to call my mom and have her pick me up, but I will always remember Mrs. Lipskier’s compassion and warm smile. Instead of being interrogated or reprimanded, there were gentle words and kindness. There was no embarrassment or shame. Just feeling cared for and understood in those tumultuous teenage years was huge.

How has this teacher’s kindness impacted you and your life?

I think offering a teenager that kindness and that feeling of personhood is an honorable and humbling act. It can’t be easy dealing with over 400 students, each with her own dramas and sagas. Being remembered and acknowledged was a very important feeling. It felt like I mattered. And even to this day it is nice to share a smile with Mrs. Lipskier on the street. She should only know of simchos and happiness.


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