Over the past many years, I have had the privilege of watching Rabbi Ariel Tal’s mentoring of students. First, as a board and executive member for the Jewish Day School he taught at it in Toronto and then as a parent, when my son was in his class. Originally the Shacharit minyan in the school was very disorganized and lacked meaning and participation. A few grades (around 100 kids) sat together in a Bet Midrash, mostly talking and fooling around while the rabbis walked around, tried to instill decorum, but unfortunately mostly failed.
Rabbi Tal then initiated a program that vastly increased the enhancement, participation and spirituality of the Tefilot. He took it upon himself to run a minyan for the boys with two significant changes, 1) he had a much smaller and focused group and 2) he shortened the tefillot. This led to a much higher quality of tefillah and it gave the children a much greater appreciation of the davening and what it meant. In particular, my son who originally had no interest in davening at all or saw any purpose to it, reacted incredibly positively to Rabbi Tal’s initiative. By the end of the school year, he went from minimal involvement to leading the davening as a chazzan, both in school and on Shabbat in our shul, being very proud of doing it and having a much deeper understanding of what tefillah should be and should mean.
I believe one of the main reasons for the success that Rabbi Tal’s program had was due to the care, love and concern that Rabbi Tal showed to each individual child. Due to the small size of the group, he was able to give the required and unique attention needed to each child based on their abilities and his being able to differentiate between the specific needs of each child.