dTHS Teacher Feature: Lisa Clumeck Graef

Let's get to know our Associate Director of Jewish Life and Jewish Studies Teacher, Lisa!

Q: Where did you go to school and what degree did you earn?
A: I received my Bachelor of Arts in Theater at the University of California San Diego and my Masters of Arts and Educations with concentrations in Jewish Studies at American Jewish University.
Q: What is your previous work experience?
A: I love acting! My first career was being an actress for about 15-20 years. I also used to run a children’s theater programs and costume and set designs. I participated in any type of arts, from visual to aesthetic. I always had a passion for it and feel I now combine arts with how I teach. After getting my masters, I received a job as a Director of Temple Betham, along with working as the Director of their summer camp, creating and running summer programs.
Q: Why did you decide to become a teacher? 
A: I have always considered myself as being a teacher. The first time I taught I felt the same feeling as the first time I performed on stage. You get the butterflies at first, but then feel uplifted as you leave.
Q: Why did you choose to work at dTHS?
A: I felt the innovation at dTHS went well with my philosophy and how I teach. I have the ability to be creating in what I do and work with a whole new student body age (I used to work at an elementary school). It is nice to be out of my element and in a totally different environment than what I am used to for me to grow my work experience.
Q: What classes do you teach?
A: I teach…
10th grade Rabbinic Literature
11th – 12th grade Medical Ethics
Tefillah Kehillah Institute (TKI)
Along with being the Associate Director of Jewish Life.
Q: What is your teaching style?
A: I enjoy immersing the students into an experience by being very hands-on when I teach. I hope to find their passions and bring them into their work. I also try to give students the opportunity to develop ideas themselves and understand lessons I teach in their own way.
Q: What do you love about dTHS?
A: dTHS is such a warm and welcoming school. I love how there is a lot of opportunities to collaborate with other departments and students. This school is very different than any other school I have ever experienced in a refreshing way. Honestly, it feels like a family here.
Q: Do you have a vision for the future of the Jewish Studies Department?
A: My vision for the future of the Jewish Studies Department is to provide more Jewish experiences on and off campus. I want to expose more nuances and bring to light more things that students didn’t know about Judaism.
Q: What started your love for Jewish Life/Studies?
A: I grew up in a traditional Sephardic house. Both of my parents were from Egypt. My father’s family escaped Egypt during the six-day war and made their way to America. Learning about my father’s stories and realizing other Jewish families had their own stories to tell, made me want to educate others in aspects of Judaism they may have never heard. I became a teacher to be able to give a voice to Jewish events and family stories students are not aware of.
Q: What is your favorite activity to do outside of work?
A: My favorite thing to do outside of work is spending time with my family and my little 9-month old baby.
Q: What is your favorite food?
A: Sushi!

Located in the San Fernando Valley portion of the City of Los Angeles in Northern Los Angeles County. de Toledo High School is accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and Builders of Jewish Education (BJE,) and financially supported by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Jim Joseph Foundation.