April 15, 2024
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T.I.L.T. Connects Teaneck Teens

I have lived in Teaneck for over a decade. That being said, I have had limited interaction and meaningful relationships with the broader Teaneck community. And after discussing with some of my peers I discovered that I am not alone in this sentiment. Teaneck is known for its diversity and inclusion, with a plethora of racial, ethnic and religious groups. I actually just learned in history class that Teaneck was the first majority white school system to voluntarily desegregate its schools. Yet despite this legacy, I felt that there was much more that could be done to form connections between residents, and I personally was determined to expand my own universe.

That is why when Mrs. Adina Lefkowitz approached me about starting a program with the goal of bridging that gap, I jumped at the opportunity. Mrs. Lefkowitz is in both worlds, being an orthodox Young Israel of Teaneck member as well as a math teacher at Teaneck High School. She connected me with my counterpart at Teaneck High School, Kasai Sanchez, and the organization Teaneck Comes Together (TCT). We hit the ground running and created the new program for public and non-public school students we have since called T.I.L.T., Teaneck Interns Leading Together.

T.I.L.T. is an offshoot program of the incredible organization called Teaneck Comes Together. TCT is a non-profit 501(c)3 community organization that provides safe, educational and fun activities/programs for the teens and parents of Teaneck. TCT’s goal is to bring the various segments of Teaneck together to provide the types of events that will help to better prepare them for today’s life challenges.

Using the values of TCT we created T.I.L.T., a community service program and leadership training initiative for high school students in Teaneck. We have several goals, including fostering connections between different members of the community, training the future leaders of Teaneck and beyond, and giving back to the community. We have and continue to run seminars for our interns with a dual purpose. In these meetings, we run both team building activities and lessons on different aspects of leadership, helping our interns grow as individuals and as a group.

We have run several of these seminars for our interns and the growth and bonding is visible. We have run icebreaker activities, such as “speed-networking” and “elevator pitches,” where the interns were able to share about themselves and hear from others, both in large groups and smaller ones. We have run training sessions on certain skills such as marketing, where interns learned how to pitch and present their ideas, and public speaking, where interns learned how to speak fluidly and improvisationally. In our next meeting, we will be bringing in special guests from ranking positions in Teaneck leadership to talk to our interns.

Then, the interns will apply the skills and connections formed in these seminars in workshops they are planning for elementary school students. The interns have been broken up into interest based groups, mixes of both public and private school kids, to plan their workshops. These workshops will be a range of activities that the young students can choose from. The kids will have fun and meet students from different backgrounds (bridging the gap themselves), all while giving parents a break.

The groups include arts and crafts, sports, visual arts/theater, creative writing, cooking and baking, community service and fitness. Each group of interns has come up with incredible plans to engage the younger students in fun and interactive activities. For example, the cooking and baking group will be making easy at-home mug cakes and the arts and crafts group will be learning how to do origami and make fortune tellers.

The T.I.L.T. workshops will be a FREE four-week program for all fourth through sixth graders who live in Teaneck. The sessions will take place on Zoom, Sundays from 2-3:30 on 5/23, 5/30, 6/6 and 6/13. If you are, have, or know somebody with a fourth through sixth grade kid we’d love to have you be a part of the first ever T.I.L.T. workshops that our interns have been working hard to prepare. Simply scan the QR code attached to sign up and feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] with any questions or concerns.

On behalf of the entire T.I.L.T. team, we are proud of everything we have accomplished so far and are excited about everything that we have planned. As we have continued to carry on the TCT torch of bringing Teaneck together, the future is bright. We created T.I.L.T. with the hope to bridge the gap between non-public and public school students; to build the leaders of tomorrow while giving back to the community today. We’d love for you to come along on this journey with us and be a part of that legacy.

http://bit.ly/TeaneckTILT

Qr code to sign up form


Gabe Greenfield is a student at Yeshivat Frisch in Paramus.

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