Recently, educators from two Village Way Educational Initiatives partner schools, located in Arab communities, gathered to network and share first-hand experiences in order to learn from each other.
The schools involved in the workshop are Jisr a-Zarka and Mahat Acco School, both vocational schools.
Jisr a-Zarka, a newcomer to the Village Way integration process, is located in one of the poorest towns in Israel. Mahat Acco School is in its fourth year of Village Way partnership and hosted the event.
Educators from Mahat Acco shared stories of its transformation thanks to the Village Way methodology, and added useful tips and insights relevant to educators from Jisr a-Zarka, who serve a similar population of troubled youth.
Eyad Salah, Director, Mahat Acco School, said: “When we established the school, people said we were a jungle and our students had no chance. We were thrown to deal with these children without any training. I found out about the Village Way in an academic course, and realized there are not many holistic educational methodologies for working with youth at-risk. The concept of the Village Way is a humanistic one, which is appropriate for all religions.”
Educators Need to Make Changes
Salah said that educators needed to make adjustments to their teaching styles, which was not always easy when the school first integrated the Village Way methodology.
“Learning and applying the Village Way required us to change, which was difficult at first. But it is impossible to make a significant difference if the educator does not change from within,” Salah said. “Teachers are the only solid thing in the lives of youth at risk. Unlike regular school teachers, who can enter a class and just focus on teaching, we must come from the heart, otherwise it doesn’t work.”
All You Need is Love
Salah noted that compassion and personal attention adds so much to the classroom experience for a fragile youth.
“The most important anchor a place like ours is the human anchor, the conscience and the love that you give,” he said. “When you close the door of the class and no one sees how much love there is for the students. If you work in such a loving way with students and see how they obtain emotional strength, how they change slowly.”
And to his peers at Jisr School, who face many challenges on a daily basis, Eyad advised: “I really believe your school can become the light of the Jisr Village, a lighthouse that distributes light. Each one of you here can be part of that light.”
Eyad Salah was recently featured in the Israeli newspaper, Yediot Aharonot, as part of a top 50 list of social heroes who devote their lives for the greater good.
The Village Way is a Model of Educational Success
The Village Way Educational Initiatives (VWEI) was launched in 2006 to expand the successful Village Way methodology, first modeled at Yemin Orde Youth Village, to other youth villages, therapeutic residential communities and public high schools in Israel. Today, VWEI is integrated in 36 educational communities in Israel, impacting 14,200 youth ad 1,775 educators. The goal is to expand to a total of 59 educational communities by 2021 and reach 25,000 youth and 2,800 educators.
The Village Way methodology is an educational blueprint for Israel’s teachers to better help their troubled students succeed in school and in life. VWEI’s think tank, the Village Way Educational Institute, provides educators in its partner communities with workshops, interventions, networking opportunities and resources to improve the quality of education for the at-risk youth in their schools.
Click here to read about the core components of the Village Way methodology.