Temple Beth Torah teacher honored
- Written by Kathy Parks
Photo: Carrie Keith of Temple Beth Torah received the Irving Samuels Award for Outstanding Jewish Teacher for 2007-2008. Keith and Rabbi Dan Gordon are in the dark blue shirts. Carrie Keith of Temple Beth Torah was one of only two religious studies teachers in the Houston area to be chosen to receive the Irving Samuels Award for Outstanding Jewish Teacher for 2007-2008. Keith has worked in the classroom for more than 20 years. During that time, she has taught every age group in every subject, including Hebrew. “Perhaps my favorite group is the younger kids,” said Keith. “but I do love the older kids, too. Teaching the older students allows me to get involved in more in-depth discussions. That’s really nice.” Keith has also been teaching at Humble ISD’s Pine Forest Elementary since 1991. She was voted Teacher of the Year in 2003. Keith said she stayed home with her two children when they were young, and enjoys sewing, quilting and smocking. While she was home, she filled the need to teach by volunteering for Jessie Jones Parks’ “Tadpole” class, which takes young children on tours of the park and teaches them about nature. She began teaching at the Temple when her daughter was 5 years old. Her daughter is now 25 and her son is 23, but she said that she stayed with the program for the sake of the other children. “I feel like they are all my children,” said Keith. “I think it’s important that they have a sense of their Jewish identity and that’s what we provide at the synagogue.” Keith was nominated for the award by her rabbi, the religious school directors and fellow teachers, who said it was no surprise that she was selected. “I was absolutely surprised,” said Keith, who will be honored in a ceremony at Seven Acres Senior Care Center in Houston on June 1. The award she will receive is sponsored by the Bureau of Jewish Education of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston. It is an annual award presented to two local teachers whose current and primary role provides excellence in the classroom. Money for the award comes from the Houston Jewish Community Foundation’s Irving L. Samuels Outstanding Award Fund. Both recipients receive $1,500 to enhance their professional skills and $300 for educational materials. The local honorees are also eligible for consideration in the Jewish Education of North America Award. “Although she directed the school in the past, her heart was always in the classroom,” said Dan Gordon, spiritual leader of Temple Beth Torah. “She has been a wise advisor to me and the principals, always helping to plan programs, deal with difficult situations, and instill a sense of pride, joy and integrity to all our learning. She influences the rest of us to strive to come close to her level of excellence,” he said. The plaque received by Keith will be displayed at the Temple. Temple Beth Torah has been serving the Kingwood/Humble area since 1983. They are involved in community projects such as Humble Area Assistance Ministries and The Door, a shelter for battered women. For more information, call 281-446-5611.