The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

Rabbi John Carrier hopeful at Park

New in-person Hebrew teacher inspired by Jewish community
Trey Janssen
Rabbi John Carrier teaches a Hebrew class Sept. 22. He is the first in-person Hebrew teacher Park has had in years.

What inspired you to become a teacher?

I didn’t know that I wanted to be a teacher. Many years ago, I was a financial analyst. In my 30’s I decided I wanted to be a rabbi, which is a teacher of the Jewish community. And we (rabbi) have many roles. Some people work as the clergy of synagogues, some people do teaching, some people do research and things like that. I started off being a rabbi at a synagogue, and it was a small synagogue. We had a bunch of different jobs. I would give sermons and lead services and things like that. Help sick people, do funerals and weddings. I then started teaching a class or a couple of classes as part of that. I found that I loved it. Because I loved it, I would get really enthusiastic about it, and the more enthusiastic I was, the better my students responded. I was teaching preschool kids to 19-year-olds in Hebrew Bible study, and I got a lot of good feedback. They’re like, “Wow, you’re a really good teacher” and I said, “I had no idea.” The more I taught, the more I realized that my passion is more in the classroom with small groups of people rather than in front of other people, or 1000 people. I like that too but I just discovered that I had a knack for teaching, and I really loved it. It’s funny because my mom’s a teacher, my dad’s a teacher, so I grew up around that. That was about about nine years ago when I learned that I like to be a teacher and I just kept doing it. If there’s something that you’re passionate about, and that you enjoy, that people appreciate, I just encourage you to go all in.

How have you liked Park so far?

I love it. This is my first time teaching in a high school, in a public school. I’ve taught in synagogues, I’ve taught in religious schools, I’ve lectured in colleges. This is my first time being a high school teacher, or my first time being in high school since I was in high school. High school is very different than it was — everybody’s got a computer, everybody’s got a phone. The fact that I can put up a Kahoot on my computer, and that the students can play it on their computers, it’s a very different world, but so far, so good. I know that Park really, really cares about all of its students. I’m here not because I’m special, but because Park really cares about its students. I know that our Hebrew classes had its ups and downs over the last few years, and they’ve been working really hard to take care of the students. That’s why they reached out, at a time that I happened to be available, and we made it happen.

Why do you think it’s important for students to have an in-class Hebrew teacher?

I don’t want to project on everybody’s experience or generalize. I know a lot of people had a hard time with online learning over COVID-19. I actually started learning a lot more over COVID-19 because there’s so many things available online. For me, it was great. I would take classes at different colleges and just hobbies that I was curious about. But for classroom instruction, I know it didn’t work well for everybody. I know for a lot of teachers that doesn’t work well for either. Just from me talking to the students about their experience last year, I know it was a struggle. I don’t think there’s any blame on anybody, everybody was doing the best they could’ve. I can tell that the students appreciate having an in-person teacher here, and someone who’s part of their community. I don’t know everybody’s families, we don’t all go to the same synagogue, but I’m a part of the community here, and they know that they can access me whenever.

How do you hope to have an impact on the Jewish community in St. Louis Park?

Because the Hebrew program was kind of on the rocks, I think that made fewer kids interested in taking Hebrew. I had somebody join the class in the middle of the first week because she didn’t know that there was going to be an in-person teacher. She was like, “Now that I know there’s going to be one, I’m going to take it.” My hope is that we are building on what we had last year and continuing to strengthen the program so teachers tell their parents and parents tell their friends. Then we can gradually build up the program here over the coming years, which is going to be a great service to our community, as well as a service to anybody at Park who’s interested in taking Hebrew.

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About the Contributors
Sarah Peterson
Sarah Peterson, Managing Editor
Hi everyone! My name is Sarah and I'm a Managing editor this semester for Echo! I am a junior and I am so excited to be on the Echo staff for my second year. Some things I enjoy doing outside of Echo are playing soccer, going to concerts with friends, and working at the library! 
Trey Janssen
Trey Janssen, Echo Staffer
Yo I'm Trey, I'm a junior this is my first year on Echo and I'm going to be a photographer. I play hockey and I like to play golf. I'm super excited to be a member of Echo and meet awesome people. 

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