Stephen Wise Temple and Wise School have a rich tradition of alumni returning to find employment in a variety of areas on campus. In fact, it’s a source of great pride and fairly unique in the synagogue and day school worlds. Wise educates its own next generation of educators.
But rarely does even Wise hire two alumni in the same year.
Who are about the same age.
Who attended Wise’s preschool at about the same time.
And who share a first name.
Meet Tatiana Broukhim and Tatiana Soofer.
Youth Programs Coordinator and Camp Wise Director | Center for Youth Engagement
As a graduating Wise School sixth grader, Tatiana Soofer, now 23, joined with her classmates in committing their handprints to a painting of a tree and garden entitled “Pathways to Living Derech Eretz: The Way of the Land.” The colorful, collaborative work hangs proudly in a Wise School hallway just outside of Room 44.
That’s about 25 feet from Tati’s office.
Tati manages a wide-ranging collection of Wise youth endeavors. She is the Camp Wise* Director, runs Camp Wise Youth Events, oversees the after-school Developmental Kindergarten/Kindergarten Extended Program and Homework Club, supervises Madrichim in Religious School, and is the Youth Advisor and seventh grade Rosh Hodesh counselor for Wise Temple Youth.
“I love what I do,” she says with pride. “In my role with CYE, I get to interact with all of the kids and see every angle of our programs.”
Before joining the CYE* team, Tati studied child and adolescent development at Santa Monica College and California State University, Northridge. What better way to prepare for working with a diverse group of hundreds of kids and teens?
“Tati is a wonderful success story and role model,” says Rabbi Sari Laufer, Director of Congregational Engagement. “She is home-grown talent, her roots are here in the Wise community. That allows her to connect with parents and participants alike in a unique way! We’re proud of her, and after years of working at Camp Wise in many roles, including Assistant Director, we can’t wait for her first summer as Director!”
Working at Wise has become something of a family affair: with both her brother (Sasha, 20) and sister (Natalya, 14) working for Camp Wise during summers, Tati is happy to point out that she’s their boss. It isn’t surprising. Tati also started a family trend when she won the coveted Sportsmanship Award as a fourth grader at Wise. Sasha and Natalya followed suit during their Wildcat athletic careers.
Extending beyond family, Tati explains that working at Wise provides a deeper way to stay connected. “I’m reacquainting with my Persian-Jewish community,” she says. “I’m a different person now, I’ve changed. I feel even more connected with my Jewish and Persian-Jewish values.”
Tati vividly recalls the teachers that guided her way, many of them still shaping Wise youth today: Joann Biller, Melanie Katan, Randy Weinstein, Patty Tanner, Malka Clement. Former teachers, now colleagues.
Connections are numerous. The aforementioned Room 44? The one right across from Tati’s office in the CYE suite?
“That was my fifth grade classroom,” Tati recalls. “Then I was a Religious School teaching assistant in that room. And some of the kids who I helped teach are now learning in that classroom as sixth graders with Patty Tanner.”
And the kicker?
“Patty Tanner was my Kindergarten teacher!”
Talk about coming full circle.
Teacher, Third Grade | Wise School
“I like how it’s collaborative,” says Tatiana Broukhim, 24, about her experience so far at Wise School*. “Our teachers work really well together.”
A graduate of Wise’s preschool (Kindergarten class of 1999), Tati went on to study at Brentwood School, then Chapman University, where she earned her B.S. in Communications and minored in Integrated Education Studies.
It wasn’t long before Tati found her way back to Wise in a very meaningful way thanks to a happy coincidence. As part of its alumni communications, Brentwood School includes job listings submitted by other alums: Jennifer Smith, Director of Programming at Wise and a fellow Brentwood alumna, tapped into that network to recruit Wise Readers to Leaders* (formerly Wise Freedom School) staffers. The program, now in its sixth year, brings over 300 students from underserved Los Angeles school districts to the Wise campus (and now also to Milken Community High School and American Jewish University) for a six-week summer program focused on providing supplemental education and leadership skills.
Tati jumped at the chance. “It was my first time leading a classroom,” she remembers. She loved the preparation, she learned to have patience with her students, and most importantly, she felt she had found her calling as a teacher. “Having that summer as my first teaching experience was amazing.”
The connection between Tati’s work with Wise Readers to Leaders and her ultimate hiring at Wise School is evident every day in her classroom: she’s currently teaching in the same classroom she used during her first summer.
She began pursuing her career as an educator in earnest, enrolling in USC’s Rossier School of Education where she earned her M.A. and her Gifted Education Certificate—which, again, brought her back to Wise.
Mentor Jessica Manzone, an adjunct Professor at Rossier, recommended Tati for a position at Wise School, which has partnered closely with the Rossier School in developing its Wise Learning Process. “Every single day we’re employing the Rossier gifted education process,” Tati says. “USC gave me great tools to put into practice.”
“Positive, exuberant, open to learning, takes mentorship seriously.” These are some of the ways Assistant Head of School Pam Kleinman described Tati in her first year at Wise. “She’s wonderful with the kids, connects to children beautifully, makes kids feel good about themselves.”
Also important? That Rossier background. “Tati understands our Wise Learning Process from the back end, embraces every subject she teaches, and embraces our teaching style. She already knew it because she was educated in it at USC.”
Tati’s love for teaching shines through when discussing her third grade students and how they’re learning and growing throughout the school year. And what’s it like watching that happen in the same classrooms, on the same playgrounds, and in the same sanctuary where she was once a preschooler?
“I feel at home here,” Tati says with pride. “It means the world to me to be back.”