~ Special Recognition ~
Alysa Segal, Kindergarten Teacher 
Alysa Segal
Interviewed by Yael Levy
Alysa Segal was born in Wilmington, Delaware. Her father was a principal of a Jewish Day School, and her mother was a principal of various After-School Hebrew programs. Alysa received her Bachelor’s degree at Stern College for Women--part of Yeshiva University. After college, she started teaching in the Village, and has been teaching kindergarten ever since. She has been at Hebrew Day for 31 years!
Alysa and her husband, Eric (HDS class of ‘76) have four children, all of whom are Hebrew Day Alumni.
Alysa's Educational Philosophy?
Working as a team with my co-teacher and making each child feel safe, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally are key values and philosophies that have guided me throughout the years. Not every child is going to reach every benchmark at the same time. Some kids are going to soar in reading, and some kids need more time. That's how life works. We don't always get to the finish line at the same time. That's why the kindergarten curriculum combines so many things in different areas where children can be successful.
What does a great day look like?
When I get to do it all! At the end of the day, I did reading and writing and math, and made sure to add in games and dancing and fun. That is just the best day. I supply an environment for them to flourish. I love what I do.
What are your thoughts at the end of each day?
I have moments of reflection. “What can I do better today? How can I make my lesson relevant? How can I change the day accordingly?” At the end of the week, I reflect with the kids and ask them what the favorite part of their day was; what was more challenging today; what are you most proud of?
Alysa's favorite moments:
When the light goes on and the students realize they can read.
What inspires Alysa?
Being with the kids. Getting a hug from the child who never gave you a hug before. Seeing the smile when they know they did a good job.
What is uniquely you?
I am a team player, and I work very hard to support the people around me. We have created a fantastic Kindergarten team with Morah Liat, Morah Erin, Morah Ortal and Morah Giselle. Because we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, we can count on one another and step in for each other. Our respect for co-workers shows the students that we respect them. as well
What is the best tip you can give to a new teacher? 
Over prepare, make sure your lessons are coherent and cohesive. Tell your students why it is important to do what they do. Make connections for them until they can do it themselves. And, find yourself a village, work hard, find people you can talk to, people with whom you can collaborate.
What is one of your hidden talents? 
I'm really good with animals. If I wouldn't teach here, I would have a Doggy Daycare with my daughters. I love to rescue pets, and currently have three cats and a dog.
The Interviewer:
Alysa Segal is a wonderful and special woman. An hour with her was not enough. I am inspired by her passion and caring about her job even after 31 years! Alysa is loved by every student and parent.  Her philosophy of education, the amazing Kindergarten team they have built, and her great character makes her an inspiring person and successful teacher. I am grateful that my kids enjoyed Kindergarten with Morah Alysa and that she is part of their lives.
Coach Ray Mills, Student Support/Coach 
Coach Ray Mills
Interviewed by Mike Aron
From the Interviewer:
Ray Mills was born and raised in San Diego by a single mom (his dad passed away when he was young). He has a twin brother and an older brother. His son, Ray Anthony is 17. Ray played baseball, basketball and football, as well as college basketball at San Diego City College for two years. After that, he played 6 years of professional basketball in Mexico. Coach Ray has been working at Hebrew Day for 12 years. All of my boys have benefited from Ray’s kindness, talent and inspiration.
Tell me about your early years:
I was always the nice kid and looked out for my mom and grandma. My mom didn’t have a lot and sometimes couldn’t buy us clothes, but she gave me lots of love. Having a positive outlook was always part of me, even as a young boy. I didn’t like fighting and I liked to see people happy. I still do! I worked hard for what I wanted, and I learned to appreciate what I had.
What gave you the strength to have that attitude?
Friends and family always said 'Ray, you're always nice and smiling. You’re never mad and you always forgive.’ I was bullied by people because I was too nice. But, that was who I was. My grandma used to tell me, ‘Ray, stay sweet. Don’t change who you are.’

What made you become a positive example to others?
In school, my friends and I were told, ‘You either have a wicked jump shot or you sling a crack rock.’ Those were the two choices we could make: become an athlete or a drug dealer. I wanted to become a professional athlete and I would spend 5-6 hours a day practicing jump shots or pitching a baseball, or watching how the great athletes became successful.
Was there someone, in particular, who influenced you? In high school, my uncle devoted his time to teach me how to play baseball and how to pitch. After high school, I was chosen to be part of a program for 19-25 year olds funded by the city. We went on retreats to play basketball. It was a full draft with uniforms and shoes, and we played games from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. to keep us off the streets. It changed my life. Later, I played ball in Mexico and saw how much poverty there was. It made me decide to help kids navigate life through sports.
Do you see yourself as a mentor to others?
My goal is to inspire kids and adults to be the best people they can be. Instilling good sportsmanship and teaching kids how to solve problems and become leaders are areas where I can make a difference. Respect for others is contagious.
Give us some life advice:
I instill positivity and a belief in myself. If I think positively, I can find a positive solution. This is why I push positivity with the kids. I had shirts printed with encouraging sayings to uplift the kids. I had a student this year whose negative attitude towards school and his teachers was getting him into trouble every day. I meet with him many times to talk about how having a better attitude will help his overall behavior. The student is more confident, advocated for a school soccer team, and is friendly to his peers and teachers.
What would you tell a potential parent or donor about Hebrew Day?
Children are loved and cared for here, and someone greets them every morning. Sure, we are here to offer school, but we offer more than that. We offer life lessons. I genuinely care about everyone who walks into the building. I’m not Jewish, but I would do anything for anyone connected to the school, and they would do the same for me. Life is about people.
What's next for you, Ray?
I want to stay connected and continue to have an impact on the students after they leave Hebrew Day and after high school. Maybe the schools can use me as their Alumni Coordinator! I’m very happy to be recognized for my work. I finally found myself and that makes me happy! I absolutely love what I do, and I am very blessed and grateful to be a part of this wonderful community and amazing school.
Stuart Katz, Distinguished Alum (Class of 1976)
Stuart Katz is a heroic leader who brings together the character, vision, and leadership San Diego Hebrew Day aspires to instill in every student.  Earlier this year, he personally trained our faculty in Youth Mental Health First Aid.
Stuart recently co-founded Nafshenu Alenu, an American organization to promote mental wellbeing and empower communities to address our ever-growing and increasingly more critical mental health challenges.  He is Chairman of the Board of OGEN (Advancement of Mental Health Awareness in Israel), and Chairman of Mental Health First Aid Israel and a partner in ‘Deconstructing Stigma’ in Israel.
In addition to his expansive volunteer work of Mental Health First Aid in Israel, Stuart is CEO of TAL Tours and Deluxe Kosher Tours. He is writing a book entitled, Travel Therapy: Around the World in Search of Happiness.
“I have found that in every instance where I’m helping someone, I'm actually helping myself. I look ahead toward many future opportunities to make a difference.”
Stuart’s current projects include working with Syrian refugees in Greece and beyond, assisting Jews from Uganda making their way to Israel, and providing direct assistance to victims of natural disasters worldwide.
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