Interview With YCQ 81st Anniversary Dinner Honoree ES Assistant Principal Mrs. Melissa Cohen By Ms. Sarah Shenas

Friday January 14th 2022

Who was instrumental in helping you get to where you are today? Throughout my years working as a third grade teacher here at YCQ, Rabbi Landsman was a great mentor and always supported me in the classroom. He instilled much confidence in me, which was instrumental in getting to where I am today. I am grateful to him for all of his support and encouragement throughout the years. 

What did you want to be when you were a child? From as young as I can remember my dream was always to be a teacher. I always loved the idea of making a difference in children’s lives. 

(I also wanted to be a dolphin trainer if teaching didn’t work out!) 

Where did you learn the most about childhood education? I learned a great deal about childhood education from the many wonderful and talented professors in college and graduate school. However, I learned most of what I know through the experiences of working as a teacher, as well as working with my team of administrators and colleagues. 

Why do you work at YCQ? YCQ is my second home. I consider the people here like my extended family. I come into work each day excited about the positive energy and ruach that is felt throughout the building. There is no place I’d rather be. 

When have you experienced a meaningful moment as Assistant Principal? I have experienced countless meaningful moments in my career. The most memorable moments are the ones when I witness a student overcome a difficulty or challenge after a period of struggling. To see a student succeed and feel proud of their own accomplishments is what makes my job so meaningful.

What is your favorite aspect of running the sports program at YCQ? I’ve always played and coached to win games and the support I’ve gotten from the administration including Rabbi Landsman and Rabbi Hamel has been tremendous from Day 1. Some schools treat sports as just another after school program but our leaders care about our success and that is very meaningful to me. It has helped me build great relationships which I is why I have been with YCQ for 16 years. 

How are this year’s YCQ players unique? On a personal level this is the first official year where I get to coach my son, Jake. Jake has been coming to YCQ practices and games for 8 years since he was in Kindergarten but is finally an official member of the team. It is unique that I get to coach him and his friends and different for me to separate “dad” from “coach.”

Do you have advice for yeshiva students who are participating in team sports? My advice is to think big picture and appreciate the opportunity to be part of a team and out playing organized sports, especially during a time where so many kids are forced to “pause.” Being part of a team is a privilege whether you are a starter and play an entire game or a backup who plays sparingly. Everyone has a role to fill and should embrace that responsibility. 

Thank you Coach Daniel for your dedication to our athletes!

If you want to see an amazing art exhibit, just come to the Kindergarten at YCQ. The children learn all about different artists and the styles in which they painted. One class learned about George Seurat and Pointillism. The children studied his paintings made of dots and then made their own dot paintings. Another class learned about Monet and Impressionism. Each child made their own water lilly. Another class learned about Degas and his painting called the Millinery Shop. The children designed their own hats in Degas style. The students learn that not all art is alike, and that there are many different ways to be creative.

One amazing aspect about our program is that we integrate art into all of our learning. When the children are writing they are also illustrating their sentences, and parsha is never just parsha. They always create a beautiful project to help them talk about Parsha at the Shabbat table. The three-year-olds painted the splitting of the sea on large brown paper. They walked through the sea with yellow paint on their feet, so they could see their footprints as they said goodbye to Mitzrayim. The four-year-olds made a sea that opens and closes with little people in the middle. One kindergarten made tambourines to reenact walking in between walls of water. Another class made a bird with a cereal chain to feed the birds on Shabbat Shira. Early Childhood wouldn’t be the same without art!

On Wednesday, December 22, the Grade 8 students of Yeshiva of Central Queens were able to create a model skeleton. In Mrs. Orlanski’s science class, the students were given papers that had images of the skeletal system. The students labeled the different bones and cut them out. They then pasted the bones together to form a replica of a human skeleton! This activity helped the students put the skeleton in perspective.

The JHS Girls had a Yom Iyun focusing on the halachot of Tzniut and why it’s such a special mitzvah. The girls enjoyed a hot breakfast and then split up into different workshops, all focusing on Tzniut. They even had a chance to create modest shirts using @patchedny fun patches. Special thanks to all the JHS Morot for an inspiring event.

What was Moshe busy with before leaving Mitzrayim? Our rabbis tell us that when the Jews were getting ready to leave Mitzrayim they were supposed to collect the gold and silver from the Egyptians as Hashem promised them. But Moshe pushed off the mitzvah for later. Why? The reason for pushing it off was because Moshe went to do two mitzvot. Mitzvah number one was that Moshe went to cut down the trees that Yaakov planted when he came down to Egypt. Yaakov planted these trees because he knew that Bnei Yisrael would need them to build the beams of the Mishkan. The second mitzvah was to get Yosef’s bones, but Moshe didn’t know where they were buried because Yosef died sixty years before Moshe was born. Moshe met an elderly woman who was the daughter of Asher ben Yaakov, and she showed Moshe where the bones were buried. Moshe took Yosef’s bones out of Mitzrayim to bury him in Israel. In return, Hashem gave Moshe the honor of being buried by Hashem himself.

This week’s פרשה is פרשת בא. In this week’s פרשה we learn about the last three מכות. They were ארבה

חושך,מכת בכורות. Afterwards, פרעה called משה ואהרן to see him. He told them to take בני ישראל and

leave, and to take all their sheep and cattle. He then said to them, “ וברכתם גם אותי” “ and bless me

also.” Even though פרעה did so many bad things to בני ישראל, according to רש”י†, he still asked משה

ואהרן to save him from מכת בכורות, since he was a firstborn. Instead of feeling remorse and

apologizing for all the cruel things he did, פרעה was in denial and instead asked to be saved. From

this we have to learn that we should all apologize for the bad things we did, even if it is difficult.

The YCQ Counseling Department and SINAI faculty teamed up to plan an event for a few YCQ Grade 7 girls and SINAI students. The students met for a pizza lunch, get to know you ice breakers, and games. The event was a great success and we are looking forward to continuing this monthly program.

“The third day is when the plants were created. In order for the children to feel more connected to this special day, we worked with plants in the classroom. They filled their own pots with soil and then placed their own plants in the soil. When the project was finished, each child took home their own. We had such a great time working with our hands, and the students really enjoyed working together. It was so much fun!” Mrs. Dina Winchester, Grade 2 Teacher

Last week the Parsha left us wondering how the makkot would end and whether the Jewish People would ever leave Mitzrayim. The nursery classes acted out the makkot. The three-year-olds froze their movements in a darkened room, and the four-year-olds wore sunglasses in a dark room which made it even darker, and they experienced what Makkat Choshech must have been like. The nursery classes made a dark and light project, and a makkah wheel to depict all ten makkot.

Kindergarten classes learned about the last three makkot and created their own projects. One class made a large mitzri and put the makkot all around him. Another class made a dark and light project using crayon resist. The children drew a Jewish person in crayon and then painted black paint over the whole page. The crayon resists the paint and is not darkened just like the Jewish People did not experience the plague of darkness. Another class wrote about each makkah and saved their writing for their Haggadot. We now know about matzah and how the makkot end. We wonder what will happen to the Jewish People in the next parsha. Stay tuned!