Over the past several months, since my colleague, ORT Chicago director, Barbara (Barb) Statland announced her retirement as our region director, I’ve tried to sit down to write about her.
Each time I’ve tried to write almost anything about Barb, (and I have tried countless times), several things happen:
- The Beach Boys’ Ba ba ba ba ba Barbara Ann runs through my head, but instead of “Ann,” I change it to “Jan.” Barb’s middle name is Jan, so it obviously works great. It repeats and repeats in my head and drives me totally nuts.
- Still, I riff a little bit with the whole, Ba ba ba ba ba Barbara Jan song idea. I create a sketch in my head about “The Teach Boys” singing the song for our Barbara Jan. Instead of being on the beach, the band, along with ORT students and educators sing and dance in an ORT 21st Century Classroom.
- Now, I start to get teary because Barb is kind of like family to me. I’ve grown accustomed to her face, her attention to detail and her Fuji apples and peanut butter at 11:16 AM each day. I think, “What will it be like not to hear her cutting apples? How will I know it’s 11:16 AM?”
- I stop trying to write because I get emotional and even nostalgic. I am generally not a nostalgic person, but Barb and I have walked through a lot together. Side note: I also happen to be a very ugly crier.
Now, I am not crying. Oh good. We are making progress.
Here’s how I see my professional partner in crime and friend, Barbara Jan Statland:
- Barb has been one of my best educators.
- Her attention to detail is superlative.
- If she wanted to, she could be a theater director and/or theater teacher.
- She could also do voice-overs. Great voice.
- Heck, she would make a fine actress.
- She is one of the biggest reasons I was hired by ORT America. Thank you, Barb.
- She has more patience than any colleague I have ever worked with, anywhere.
- She is extremely creative and incomparably tenacious.
- She loves ORT and its people very deeply. (P.S. ORT = People)
- She is hilarious even when she’s not trying to be.
- She is a powerful communicator.
- She is reasonable.
- Her commitment to and her belief in ORT programs never, ever wavers.
- Barb’s leadership has sustained our region where most others would have failed.
- I have never heard anyone better on the phone. Yes, she knows I eavesdrop.
- Barb really loves the ORT Teacher’s Fund.
There’s a lot more to Barb than what I’ve stated here. It has been my privilege to partner with and to learn from her.
The love goes both ways. ORT loves Barb so much, there’s a whole ORT International Seminar for Leading Educators dedicated to Barb, in honor of her retirement. This seminar, (which I believe starts TOMORROW!), is a key part of the ORT Teachers Fund which is a fund dedicated to the professional development of educators. A few words from Barb about the ORT Teacher’s Fund:
So many ORT students are motivated, passionate, knowledgeable and creative BECAUSE of their teachers. Their teachers instill these traits within their students. ORT knows that this is key and provides a network of peers for their teachers to whom they can turn for support and to share ideas. This Teachers Fund will provide so much – including training in the areas of digital technology, physics education and Bio Research, learning technologies training, math and English. Collaboration is key in all of these initiatives. — Barbara J. Statland
Barb has been around ORT for 30-ish years. She’s been an employee for 13 years and a region director for the past five or so. Most of us see Barb as a lifetime ORTist.
If you’d like to honor Barb’s Herculean leadership at ORT, and/or you seek to invest in professional development for educators, and/or you want to witness my ugly crying because thanks to you, we have raised our $40,000 goal, please stop reading this post and click on Barb’s photo below!
Thank you for reading this, and of course, for your investment in Barb, ORT, teachers, students, me and all who make a positive impact on our world.
May we all draw strength, knowledge and courage from Ba ba ba ba Barbara Jan.
In gratitude and love,