Thank you to our Village Way educators who provide tireless dedication and care of our youth who remain in their homes or are still in their village communities.
Our Village Way facilitators remain in regular (remote) contact with staff and educators at our partner educational communities.
The children who need us most at this time will continue to receive value-laden support and guidance.
In schools, children were sent home around mid-March with the expectation for them to continue with long-distance learning. For at-risk youth, home environments can be extremely problematic. Here is our current focus working with principals and educational staff in Village Way high schools:
a) Long-distance guidance
- "Staff maintenance": guiding principals to keep their educational team strong and motivated by showing appreciation and recognition for their efforts at this time. Identifying staff members who are experiencing crisis, and offering them the right kind of support. (Group or 1:1 meetings).
- The schools have been called to quickly set up and implement long-distance learning programs. Our emphasis was that that even before that, personal contact with all the children must be established, and from there the learning can
- We suggested to categorize the children into three groups, according to the level of personal intervention that will be required at this Group 3, the most troubled children, should be reached out to on a daily basis, with a phone call or even a home visit (as long as it complies with the safety guidelines).
- Deferring budgets to emergency programs, such as offering support to children's families on the verge of collapse (e.g., food baskets), and boosting the children's morale and community team spirit (for example: distributing a mobile gym kit with instructions).
b) Beit Midrash sessions
- The Village Way round-tables for leading staff continue via Zoom. So far, six long-distance Beit Midrash sessions have taken place (with Zoharim Youth Village, the schools Amal Energy-Tech, Ort Tuviahu, Psagot Migdal HaEmek and Rose Matzkin, and M'Dor L'Dor, a non-profit headed by Yemin Orde graduates which addresses the needs of youth coming from Caucasus). More are
- The sessions focus on maintaining a balance between "being" and "doing": being in the moment as realities unfold and not neglecting tasks that need to be
c) Offering suggested activities for home-bound children
- An "initial response" pool of activities for the children was sent out in a newsletter, including a fun time-planner for the Corona days and suggested protocols for keeping in touch.
- A designated online folder containing adapted activities was opened, with materials sorted by age group and topic.
- To prevent overload, each Village Way instructor connects to his or her educational community staff members, and offers specific documents which are especially relevant for them.
- A "Village Way protocol" for personal phone calls with children was sent out (in Hebrew and Arabic).
- A special activity for Arab educators was developed, ahead of their marking the holiday of Lailat al Miraj, or the Night of Ascension.
The youth villages that we work with are expected to maintain long-distance schooling for their children who were eligible to be sent back home. The villages continue to serve as a home for the many children who do not have this option, operating under challenging restrictions and existential dilemmas, often with reduced staff availability due to quarantine measures.
Our work with the educational staff in youth villages and residential communities continues as follows:
a) Long-distance guidance
- Group or one-on-one meetings with village directors and staff continue, along the same lines as our guidance for high school leadership; Beit Midrash sessions: as in the schools.
- Recognizing the extra-challenging position of educational staff working with the kids in the villages, we offered them a gift of potted herbs (grown at Yemin Orde Eco-Farm!), along with a note expressing our appreciation for their efforts. We received many emotional responses for this small tokens.
b) Suggested activities for children in residential communities
- Board game sets for the children were sent out to our 12 active youth villages, as a Tikkun Olam gift to Tokayer boarding facility, and to the two homes of Haredi girls connected to the Tehila Ultra- Orthodox School in Haifa. (All in all, fifteen sets).
- Developing suggested "activity units" for the staff who are in confinement with the youth at the villages, including - "chill out days" to alleviate anxieties; preparation days for Passover, preparing DYI hand sanitizers, etc. All these activities comply with the safety measured set out by the Ministry of Education.
- Developing ODT exercised for the educational staff, again in compliance with current safety regulations.
Educational Leadership Programs
a) The Village Way Milestones Program
- Long distance meetings continue with the program participants. The first meeting focused the directors' current challenges and needs, with suggested guidelines for handling the current complex routine. A summary was sent out to the participants.
- This week, another meeting - aiming to keep heads above water - will focus on strategic planning.
- We plan to begin with 1:1 meetings with participants to move forward with work on their personal project.
b) The Trailblazers Program
A long-distance meeting was held to touch base with participants and brainstorm about their group project. It was decided that this project will focus on planning the first days of returning to the normal routine after the crisis is finally over.
- 1:1 and group meetings have been held to discuss personal projects.
- Our newsletter has been in wide circulation and enjoying a very high response rate.
- Materials in Hebrew and Arabic have been adapted to address current situation.
- An online depository of suggested activities was set up.
- Village Way Facebook campaigns: on the importance of maintaining personal connection with kids, on schooling and learning at this time, and ideas for "smiling masks".
- We've encouraged and helped educators create video clips with greetings for the children.
- The distribution of herb pots and board games for the youth villages has been videoed.
- The Oranim College Village Way course continues with conference video.
- Some of the sessions will be pre-recorded and include long-distance assignments.
Inside the Village Way Educational Institute
- We now hold bi-weekly video staff meetings, on Mondays and Thursdays, to continue with staff learning, content development and collaboration.
- The staff leadership meetings take place at least once a week.
- Staff training and guidance continues as needed.
- We are using this opportunity to pick up on old assignments which have been set aside.
As mentioned, we have been quick to respond to the requests and needs from the field by developing relevant materials. We are also adding our input and guidelines based on our own observations and identification of needs.
Newly developed materials
- Special game cards to help educators process the stressful situation with kids.
- Guidelines for activities adapted for the Corona days, as mentioned above.
- Developing activities and video materials for Beit Midrash and Beit Nidrash learning sessions.
- A second newsletter has been released ahead of the holiday, with suggestions for a creative online Seder Pesach. This newsletter will also be shared with communities that will potentially join us next year.
- Developing and distributing learning materials for the ultra-orthodox community, which do not have internet access in their homes.
- Adapted "protocol" for keeping in touch with girls in our ultra-orthodox communities.
We continue to keep in touch with the Education Corps and the additional frameworks that we work with. Meetings and learning sessions are not possible at this time, due to the military operating under a state of emergency, on top of the precautionary restrictions adopted by the general public.