Varda Cheskis Sauer, adviser, North Springs Jewish Culture Club
Sauer said she often is approached by speakers around town who would like to address her students, but few make the cut. Sauer is selective about the speakers and their topics. The consistently high participation in the club shows that her selectivity doesn’t limit student interest. Instead, she ensures that her speakers engage the students.
Sauer works with the club’s student president and four executive officers to select speakers and gain suggestions for possible improvements. The meetings themselves are generally student-run: The president checks attendance and introduces the speaker, while the officers serve and clean up food.
With attendance around 150 students per meeting, cleanup is a burden, but the discipline and accountability of the officers enable Sauer to borrow other teachers’ rooms for meetings.
Sauer, who also teaches two internship classes, has become a reason for Jewish parents to send their kids to the charter high school in Sandy Springs. Recognizing her value, the school’s administration has granted Sauer the use of the school’s media center for meetings in the coming school year.
Whether working with organizations to set up student internships, organizing philanthropic efforts, or being the point person for Jewish parents at North Springs, Sauer creates a hugely influential Jewish presence at her public school and remains committed to the group despite extra hours without extra pay.
“The Jewish Culture Club is a huge draw for Jewish kids to come to North Springs,” Sauer said. “Their parents still want Jewish continuity, and I am absolutely providing it.”