The Teacher is the Student

Each day I walk through the doors of the Mandell JCC I consider it an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. Some of those days, though, someone crosses the threshold and they are the one to inspire me.

When I first met Lindsey Pollock in 2008, I could never imagine the impact she would have on me professionally and personally.
Our relationship began as a simple one; teaching her karate.

Fast forward 12 years later, and Lindsey is a constant reminder of just how important it is to do what you love and to have purpose behind it. Someone once told me that the best thing you can give a child with special needs is your friendship and to believe in them.

I have had the honor of watching an incredible young lady mature and blossom into a beautiful, confident woman.
Our time together has evolved from martial arts lessons to a wide range of activities at the J, including swim lessons, personal training and the special needs fashion show.

Lindsey may have special needs, but this now 25-year old outgoing, curious, and energetic woman has taught me so much about heart, strength and resiliency.

“At the time we joined the J, we were just looking to continue some karate lesson for Lindsey,” says Larry Pollock. “But, the JCC has become so much more to us. The JCC has had a huge impact on all our lives; Lindsey is so welcome here, and the culture of the JCC plays a huge part in making her feel that way.”

I always know when Lindsey is in the building. As large as her personality is, her heart is even bigger. There is no better example I can share than my fiancée Farrah Mead’s recent birthday. Lindsey marked it on her calendar, and on that day, she made sure to tell every person she saw, “today is Farrah’s birthday.”

Truly one of my favorite things about Lindsey is how she is always telling other people how awesome they are...and if she thinks you’re awesome, she will make sure everyone around you know it.

“That’s one of the things we value so much about the JCC,” says Larry, “that this has been a place where Lindsey’s social skills have enhanced, and she feels so comfortable in who she is. It’s been so comforting for us to have this kind of environment for Lindsey. The JCC is really a special place with a culture of people doing things the right way.”
“Lindsey loves the JCC so much that we are making sure that it is part of our future plan. The JCC will be a part of her life when we are no longer around.”

I have long considered it a privilege getting to know this wonderful young woman and her family. Working with her has truly been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional life. She makes me want to be a better person. But none of us ever does it alone here at the J. We can all be proud of the incredibly warm and welcoming environment we have created for Lindsey and her family, and all families who walk through our doors.

Lindsey makes me so proud to call her my friend. This special young woman inspires this ordinary man to feel so grateful for the work we do at the JCC.


Lindsey Pollock and JCC Martial Arts Director, Dave Laporte.

as told by Dave Laporte