Rachael was all about listening. Being present to our students, to ourselves too as teachers. Her approach was gentle, kind and completely authentic. I was still pretty green as a teacher when I met Rachael Kessler and I can say with all honesty that she influenced the way I would teach teens for the next 5 years. (Actually, the way I work with adults as a coach/facilitator now too!) Her way of "being" with students resonated for me personally because it was what was missing for me growing up. Rachael's Seven Gateways are powerful tools for any age. Although I was not trained to facilitate a PassageWays class, Rachael's gates 1,2,3,4 and 5 were integral to my teaching at Prozdor as well as my facilitation of Rosh Hodesh: It's a Girl Thing! and my adult SoulCollage® playshops.
As a high school student, I did not have mentors who actually listened, who clearly (at least from my perspective) cared about me as a human. I did not have teachers who wanted to know my thoughts, my dreams, my Mysteries Questions. Through Rachael and my many other amazing IJS teachers, I learned to pay attention, to not simply impose my ideas of what I thought the kids should learn, but to find out what they wanted to know within the structure of the curriculum. I did my best to shift each class to suit a particular group of students and their needs. So again, being authentically present.
Rachael reminded me to:
Gate 1. Open my heart and listen: "The yearning for deep connection describes a quality of relationship that is profoundly caring, is resonant with meaning, and involves feelings of belonging, or of being truly seen and known."~Rachael Kessler, The Soul of Education
Gate 2. Incorporate silence into my classes: "The longing for silence and solitude, often an ambivalent domain, is fraught with both fear and urgent need. As a respite from the tyranny of "busyness" and noise, silence may be a realm of reflection, of calm or fertile chaos, an avenue of stillness and rest for some, prayer or contemplation for others." ~Rachael Kessler, The Soul of Education
Gate 3.Encourage: "The search for meaning and purpose concerns the exploration of big questions, such as ...'Is there a God?'"~Rachael Kessler, The Soul of Education
Gate 4. Make time and space for: "...joy and delight...through experiences of great simplicity, such as play, celebration, or gratitude...the exaltation students feel when encountering beauty, power, grace, brilliance, love or the sheer joy of being alive."~Rachael Kessler, The Soul of Education
Gate 5. Integrate expressive arts: "The creative drive, perhaps the most familiar domain for nourishing the spirit in school, is part of all the gateways."~Rachael Kessler, The Soul of Education
I had always wanted to go and learn more from Rachael at PassageWays Institute, but time, money, life did not have that in store for me. Now Rachael has moved through the passageway of embodied life to soul-eternity (Talk about Mysteries Questions...What is that place? Where is that place? Is it a place? Is it just pure time?)
Rachael, you lovingly awakened many hearts through your brilliant shining Being. Mine most certainly. It is heavy now, knowing you will no longer be teaching from your physical presence, but your legacy lives on through your writing, the PassageWays Institute, through your students, the parents and teachers whose lives you have graced with your presence and through us teachers and onto our students as well.
Thank you Dear Teacher.
If you too are inspired by Rachael's work and wish to support it's continuation, donations in her memory may be made to:
The Gerzon Grandchildren Scholarship Fund
Congregation Nevei Kodesh
Rachael Kessler Legacy Project.
Please send donations to:
P.O. Box 21601
Boulder, CO 80308