Teachers leave JDS to move closer to home


photo by Julie Trantham

Rothstein and her family hike through Franklin Canyon before the pandemic.

Ella Waldman, Features Editor

English teacher Abigail Rothstein was used to being on her own. Originally from Los Angeles, she moved across the country eight years ago to attend Brandeis University in Boston. Three years ago, she settled in Washington, D.C., to begin her teaching career. But after 15 months of the pandemic, she has a renewed sense of the importance of living near family, and will be returning to Los Angeles at the end of June. 

“As much as I love the JDS community, the D.C. community, I was pretty much on my own for a year kind of riding the waves of the pandemic by myself in quarantine,” Rothstein said. “I kind of started to think long-term it’s important to be around family.”

Rothstein had originally moved across the country in order to separate herself from the Los Angeles environment and find a new community. Although this big move had been fully intentional, she has since realized that her priorities have changed. 

“The pandemic made me realize that I can find my community wherever I go, I don’t need to seek it the furthest away from where I grew up,” Rothstein said. 

Post-pandemic priorities are shifting not just for newer teachers, but for those with more experience as well. Learning specialist Abbe Luther, who is finishing her seventh year at JDS, made the decision to move from Reston, Virginia, to the Detroit area to be closer to her daughter and new-born granddaughter. 

“It seems like just yesterday I had [my daughter], and now she’s a mom. I have good memories of being with my grandparents, and I would like for her daughter to have similar good memories,” Luther said. “I also want to be there for my daughter because being a parent is the most difficult job in the world. And, if I can provide an extra set of hands for her and her husband, or perhaps I have this much wisdom that I can impart, that would make me feel very gratified.” 

For the upcoming school year, both teachers plan to hold jobs similar to their current positions. Rothstein will be a middle school English and speech teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and Luther has accepted a position as a learning specialist with a focus in math for seventh and eighth grade at a K-8 Jewish day school near her daughter. Both teachers hope to bring what they have learned from their time at JDS to their next schools. 

For Rothstein, that lesson is about her own growth as a teacher. “When I first started teaching I definitely had the idea that if my lessons weren’t perfect, if my delivery wasn’t perfect, then I would be a failure,” she said. But she has gained perspective in her time at JDS that she will take to her next teaching position. “I tell this to my students all the time, the goal is not to be your perfect self, but it is to be your best self,” she said.

While they look forward to being closer to their families, both Luther and Rothstein say teaching at JDS has been a gratifying experience.

“I think of JDS as my second home, I love the people I work with, work for, I’m in love with the students, it’s just the most rewarding job one could ever have. And I’m sad to leave that,” Luther said.