MILTON Educator Jill Stepak Awarded Kohelet Prize

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The Kohelet Foundation announced March 7 that it awarded Jill Stepak, art specialist at Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital (MILTON) in Washington, D.C., with the Kohelet Prize for Excellence in Jewish Education for her work in the category of Differentiated Learning. The award includes a cash prize of $36,000.

Now in its third year, the Kohelet Prize was created to celebrate extraordinary accomplishment and stimulate breakthroughs in the field of Jewish day school education. Stepak’s entry, Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB), is a choice-based art education approach that is grounded in the interests and ideas of students. The program is intended to foster experimentation, creative development, intellectual and creative risk-taking, and authenticity.

“Our panel of judges recognized Jill for creating a classroom environment that encourages students to follow their own interests, see art as a multi-step creative process, and also teach them supporting skills to accomplish their art goals. Jill’s creative structures challenge each student at her/his own level and inspire teachers of any subject area to experiment in their own classrooms,” said Rebecca Goldberg, spokesperson for the Kohelet Prize.

This is the third year in a row that MILTON educators have been recognized in this competition. In 2017, two teams of MILTON educators received the Kohelet Prize: the kindergarten teaching team won for the South Campus Community Library, and a team of elementary school teachers won for Election Project: Kids’ Voices Count. In 2018, the kindergarten teachers also received an Honorable Mention in the category of Learning Environment for their in-depth, multi-disciplinary project to create the South Campus Community Theater project.

“We are honored by this national recognition and proud to serve as a resource to other Jewish day schools across the country and to elevate the field of Jewish education,” said MILTON Head of School Naomi Reem.

The Kohelet Foundation also recently launched the Kohelet Prize Database, in which not just the winners but all Kohelet Prize entries are available for review. Entries are categorized and searchable by subject areas, grade level, and pedagogical approaches. The Kohelet Prize Database can be accessed via the Kohelet Prize website at