Public Schools or Jewish?
When I tell people that I am working towards my Masters Degree in School Counseling, one of the first questions I usually get is - "Do you want to work in Jewish schools?" My answer, typically, is no. But I'm starting to rethink that decision.
I have set my sights on working in public schools for various reasons - the pay is better, the benefits are great, I wouldn't have to deal with the same politics that I would in a Jewish school. Additionally, I've always feared that my not quite "toeing the line" attitude wouldn't be looked upon so favorably in Jewish schools, and that I would have more freedom to practice and guide students in a public school. I also have felt that I am working so hard for my degree, that I would prefer to practice in an environment that requires it, which many Jewish schools don't.
But recently, several people have made points that are quite astute and gave me pause. First of all, I know the frum community, and while I don't necessarily agree with everything that goes on there, I do have an understanding of how it works, and the pressures specific to the lifestyle. In this way, I could offer an understanding of Jewish students that a counselor without such a background can't.
Conversely, the fact that I didn't grow up in an Orthodox environment means that I experienced the world and understand the pressures and desires and enticements of the non-Orthodox world. I can relate to those students who either wonder what they are missing, or maybe are already experiencing it. I wouldn't judge those who are curious, or maybe succumbing to their temptations, but hopefully I would be able to give them a bit of strength and support in order to live the life they truly wish to, whatever that is.
It's an interesting thought, working within the Orthodox community. I'm starting to consider it more and more. I wouldn't want to work within whichever community I end up living, because I feel that the dual relationships (for example, counseling a student in school and running into their parents in synagoge) become too complicated and the pressure to disclose confidential information and otherwise compromise ethical standards is too great, but I am starting to become open to the idea of working in a school not in my own community. It might even make my dad happy - he works in the Jewish communal services field and has always encouraged me to do so as well (though I wouldn't be following directly in his footsteps).
For those who do work within Jewish communities, what do you think are the positives and/or negatives of doing so?
Thanks to Semgirl, amongst others, for putting these considerations in my head.