Thursday, February 24, 2011

Audio Shiur from Rav Prebor: Nevi'im Achronim, Then and Now

Audio Shiur:
Rav Sinai Prebor: Nevi'im Achronim, Then and Now
If you could not join us in person, (or just want to give the shiur another listen), feel free to listen to Rav Prebor's shiur.

Click here for the audio link, or listen in the handy audio player supplied below.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Being a School Principal

By David Shavit,
Rechovot Campus

2010 was the third year that Orot Israel College Israel offered an educational management training course for future school principals at the Moreshet Yaacov Campus in Rehovot, and the second year at the Elkana Campus. The following are excerpts from the speakers at the Orot Israel College Rehovot Campus 2010 graduation ceremony.

"He who is all kindness risks anarchy
He who is all wisdom risks skepticism
He who is all faith risks extremism
One needs kindness, wisdom and faith." (Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa)
- This is the essence of being a school principal.

Orot's Educational Management training course prepares a cadre of candidates for elementary and secondary school principal positions for the near and distant future. 64 men and women are presently studying in this course.
When we started planning the course curriculum, we started with three basic assumptions, following developing trends in the education system:
• The school principal, as the central figure leading an educational institution, must possess the image of a professional educator.
• The job of a school principal is very complex and requires extensive knowledge of management and leadership skills, as well as an ability to initiate and lead change as the head of the staff.
• The school principal must be an educational leader with a clear educational-ethical philosophy, and must possess the ability to design and implement complex educational processes.

The course exposes students to the theory of educational management so that they are ready to deal with the real world – actual management. The course continuously stresses the connection between theory and practice by exposing the students to actual situations that school principals must address. Students meet with experienced teachers, leading school principals, senior figures in the education system, and more.
Students devote many hours to practical field work. In the first year students visit schools and meet with seasoned principals, observing and learning according to a pre-designed curriculum. In the second year the students' field work experience involves leading a task independently under professional supervision, as assigned in conjunction with the school principal.
As a result of the two-year course of study, our graduates have come to use a different lexicon when discussing education, fully incorporating prominent concepts from the fields of education and management. Students experienced a personal transformation as well, from an apprehension of management and leadership to an eagerness to take responsibility and be on the cutting edge of Israel's educational system. Many of our graduates already serve as school principals and still maintain contact with the college.
We expect that studies in a religious educational college like Orot Israel will help the students formulate a worldview based on faith, and help them develop a personal and educational identity on both a theoretical and practical level. We expect our students to develop as professionals and leaders who know how to listen to and involve others, while leading them to create an educational environment with a creative vision. We expect our graduates to know how to inspire their colleagues to take responsibility for the implementation and results of their school's curriculum development.
We pray that this task that the college has taken upon itself, to prepare Israel's next generation of educational leadership, will serve as a catalyst for the enhancement of the entire educational system in the years to come.

"Being There"

By Avia Sonnenfeld,
Fourth year Informal and Community Education major

Six students in the college's Informal and Community Education track specializing in youth work volunteered to join the "Coffee on the Beach" project last summer as part of their field work assignments. The project, run each summer by Elem, a non-profit organization that works with "youth at risk", provides a first response to youth camping out at the Dugit Beach on Lake Kinneret. Orot's third and fourth year students were supervised by Sally Gov (Director of the Kiryat Shmuel Municipality's Youth Advancement Department and lecturer at Orot College) and spent each evening reaching out to youth on the beach, engaging them in conversation. Avia Sonnenfeld, a fourth year student, reports on their experiences.

I spent last summer on the beach together with many Israeli religious Zionist teens. I saw many sights, talked into the wee hours and discovered that to get to know our youth better and to really gain their confidence you have to be with them where they are, even if it is in places you don't want to be.
At the Orot's Informal and Community Education Youth Advocacy Unit, we deal with individual therapy for alienated and at-risk youth. "Youth at-risk" include boys or girls in danger of dropping out of school due to behavioral, scholastic or other difficulties. Boys or girls who are not in a school framework are more likely to become involved in dangerous or self-destructive behavior.
During our field work assignments we met with teenagers in youth clubs, community centers, boarding schools and regular schools. When summer begins and schools go on vacation, teenagers don't just disappear. They look for work, hang out, or "let loose", sometimes straying into places where they put themselves at risk.
So a group of us students went to meet them there.
Of course, not all cases are the same and not all youth are drawn toward risky situations, but the potential for danger looms large.
One of the places where teens often choose to hang out at is the beach. Israel has many beaches and there are many alternatives venues for youth. During the summer the beaches on the Mediterranean coast, in Eilat and the shores of Lake Kinneret are filled with teenage boys and girls. What do they do at the beach all day? Swim, hang out with the guys, sunbath, but most importantly, the agenda is to be out on your own – staying as far away and out of touch from the adult world as possible.
What about at night? At night things really start to get interesting: music, bottles of booze (and sometimes more) suddenly appear, boy-girl interactions become more alluring, and the youth just let the night set its own pace.
So what's the problem? Many youth spend days or even weeks alone on the beach. Sometimes they leave from there to go trekking, often neglecting to get organized in terms of water, food and hygiene, which can lead to situations of dehydration. Moreover, boys often end up in situations of drunkenness, violence, drugs, and occasionally in danger of drowning from reckless behavior. Apart from the physical dangers there are also, of course, problems of spiritual confusion and personality disorders associated with these situations. Some teens, even those who are not dragged into extreme risk situations, will have many questions about themselves, about coming of age and about what is happening around them.
For this reason, the "ELEM" Association, together with the "Say No to Drugs" Authority and other youth advocacy organizations, has, through a grant from the Ministry of Education, sponsored an "open tent," offering hot drinks, light, food, and especially adults who want to be there for and with the youth, to provide information, conversation and guidance. The tent is open from 9:00pm until 2:00am.
Most of the volunteers who came to the tent were amazing, and it was wonderful to work with them, but they were not from religious backgrounds. However, many of the teens found on the beaches are from "our public" – from the religious community. The teens need to talk with an adult, but an adult who doesn't come from the same background as the youth cannot give an ideal response because he doesn't understand his world. That's why there is such a great need for volunteers who come from a religious background. For that reason we – religious students studying youth work – were "drafted" as a group combining talent for working with at-risk youth and a religious background and education.
Our group, supervised by Ms. Sally Gov, worked with the youth at the Dugit Beach over the course of two nights. We saw a little of what they were seeking at the beach, and discovered how important it is to give the youth a chance to engage with a non-judgmental adult, even though they are supposedly running away from the adult world.
We received much positive feedback from the boys and girls we met. We met many of "our" youth there, even some who we knew personally. There were some difficult moments, such as when we saw girls practically unconsciousness from excessive alcohol, or when we saw a boy or girl from the community where we live. Our conversations with the youth were interesting and we were quite surprised to learn that the youth actually wanted us to be there. This important experience taught us a great deal both about ourselves and about the youth.
Finally, we gained a great deal from the experience of working together as a team under the professional supervision of Ms. Gov, who conducted serious workshops during the day we spent together.
I'm very happy that I had this experience and recommend that anyone who wants to better understand the world of our precious youth should volunteer for ELEM's beach activities next year.