Village Way tools encourage educators at Geula High School to exercise creative thinking.
Geula High School is a unique educational community located in the center of Tel Aviv. This school serves a very diverse population of students, including Jewish students from various backgrounds, Muslim and Christian Arab students, children of foreign workers, and also a program for hearing-impaired students.
The school’s partnership with Village Way Educational Initiatives over the past two years has pushed educators to look at their work in a new light.
The Village Way process gave staff and leadership the opportunity to question things that had been previously done on autopilot, to ask, “what if” and “why not”? The work of discussing, analyzing, developing, and implementing has helped this wonderful school make important steps towards achieving their dreams for their students, in ways they previously thought impossible.
Graduate Support Strengthens Lifelong Connections
One area that has shifted is in its work with school graduates. Before the Village Way process, this work was sporadic and individual by teacher.
Tova, an educator shares:
"We have now really built a graduate support program from the ground up. We have four staff members involved who meet once a week, working together to ensure that we are reaching the graduates who really need us. We have started with the most recent ones, calling each one, talking to them about how they are doing, and what they need from us. As soon as we started doing this in an organized way, we began to see that we have so many graduates who really need this support, we began to understand their needs that no one else is meeting."
The school’s Graduate Night, when recent graduates return for an evening and speak with current students and staff, is now an exciting annual tradition in the school’s culture.
Mentoring Program Involves the Whole Community
Another dream being realized is a new mentoring program. After extensive planning, the staff has rearranged the entire school schedule to create a program where every student has one-on-one time with a mentor each week.
Mentors include school staff but also local volunteers. This exciting new initiative is working to ensure that each child feels seen and heard. Principal Sunny Carmeli shares, “I have led this school for 8 years, but I can say now, this year, this this the best atmosphere we have ever had here. Everything new we are doing is thanks to the Village Way.”
Strong Partnership Maintained During Coronavirus Crisis
The partnership with Geula High School strengthened during the coronavirus crisis, when the school leadership looked to Village Way facilitator, Muli, for support and guidance.
Muli says, “The fact that we are there for them right now, for the entire staff, together with them in a non-judgmental way, has been a huge support for the team. We are working on real-time solutions for daily problems, and also building programming to start now that will bridge over to the time when students return to school.”
One such program is a Tikkun Olam program, where small groups of students met by Zoom to develop their own community projects.
"Having students focus on someone else's needs was important. It gave them a sense of meaning and purpose during a confusing time," said Muli.
The Village Way methodology is serving as an invaluable tool to guide educators and remind them of what is important right now in the lives of their students. The three foundational principles of the Village Way methodology are serving to guide our current work with educators: It takes a whole village to raise a child, every child needs a meaningful adult who believes in him or her, and every child is a person searching for meaning. Meaningful learning requires educators maintain meaningful connections to their youth and working from within these basic tenets.