Educators at three Village Way partner educational communities have launched new impactful programs in their schools that celebrate cultural diversity, as well as offer creative and confidence-building extra-curricular activities.
The three communities, all of which are relative newcomers to the Village Way process are Ramat Hadassah Youth Village (near Haifa), Amal Ben-Ami Tech IN high school (Lod), and Desert Stars (Negev region). These communities have created opportunities for their at-risk youth to learn from each other, express themselves in a creative way and boost self-esteem. Educators received guidance and support from the Village Way Educational Institute, which serves as the think tank and resource center for Village Way Educational Initiatives.
Ramat Hadassah Youth Village (near Haifa)
Ramat Hadassah Youth Village is in its second year of partnership with Village Way Educational Initiatives. The community launched a new initiative to celebrate the cultural diversity of its youth population who live and learn at the village.
In November, the entire community gathered to celebrate the Ethiopian-Jewish holiday of Sigd. In December, the village organized its first-ever community celebration of Novi God, a nonreligious holiday which honors the cultural tradition of youth from the former Soviet Union. Novi God is Russian for “new year,” and is also often celebrated by Israeli citizens who emigrated from that region.
Village Director Moran Betzer-Tayar said the village receives important support from the Educational Institute, which, in turn, empowers educators to connect to the at-risk youth in their care.
“The Village Way Educational Institute staff knows how to challenge us as leaders. They make us move in our seats and then they support us in how to make the change,” said Betzer-Tayar.
Amal Ben-Ami Tech-In High School
Amal Ben-Ami Tech-In High School is in its first year of Village Way integration. The school is a vocational school located adjacent to a military base near Lod, which serves mostly boys from around the region who have dropped out of other schools. The at-risk youth who attend are both immigrants and Israel-born. Many of these youth are from challenging family environments.
Educators at Amal Ben-Ami created a photography contest for students so they may experience success in a non-academic or non-vocational area, and validate their success in a public way.
Students submitted photos for the contest using only their smartphones. All photos needed to reflect the school and school grounds. The top three photos were printed and posted in the school hallways, honoring both the accomplishments and showing different perspectives of the school. Students also received prizes and awards for their efforts.
Deserts Stars, which is in its second year of Village Way integration, is an educational community in the Negev region of Israel that also serves the Bedouin community. A new mentorship program for its at-risk teens has placed 10th graders in the role of mentors to younger students. Participants opened a weekly after-school program in a local elementary school where they serve as “big brothers” or “big sisters” to 6th graders.
This opportunity gives the teens an important experience in serving as role models and provides positive learning experiences in leading and organizing activities.
Leadership staff at Desert Stars said the Village Way methodology has had tremendous impact and relevance to their work as educators. “When it comes to the educational depth, there is nothing like the Village Way,” said Oded, an educational leader at Desert Stars.