News: Our Sponsorship of Ethiopian Scholarship Student At The Leo Beck College Haifa
ETHIOPIAN PRIMARY SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIP PUPILS
FEBRUARY 2012 REPORT
Now in her second semester as principal of the Primary School, Dr. Luli Stern is incorporating creative new strategies into the curriculum combined with the spirituality supplied by Rabbi Mazor. Most recently 5th and 6th grade pupils took part in multiple mini interview-“speed dating” style 5-minute meetings with their Art, Science, English, Computer, Math, Judaism and PE teachers. This empowering teacher-pupil encounter enabled the children to ask questions, evaluate their own progress, assess their teachers and forge a mutually beneficial understanding. It was so successful that it will be continued every semester.
2012 School Goals:
- Deeper emphasis on Tikkun Olam especially the older children who we feel are capable of a making real impact, individually and collectively.
- Leadership skills development within and beyond the school
- Mind, body and soul approach to Judaism
“Creating young leaders, celebrating diversity and encouraging integration within the Leo Baeck community are part of our progressive approach to education.” Dr. Luli Stern, February 2012.
Idan (1st Grade)
Idan’s homeroom teacher describes him as a child who is full of life, optimistic, polite, curious, and eager to learn. These traits will ultimately keep him motivated despite the fact that he continues to fall far behind in the classroom. His homeroom teacher notes that Idan struggles with reading, organization, and fine motor skills. He also becomes distracted easily and his teacher is constantly refocusing his attention to the task at hand. In a recent conversation with his teacher, Idan expressed his frustration at his “slowness”; he is very aware that he takes longer than his peers to finish his assignments. His mother is in constant contact with his teacher and is very dedicated to her son, but as a single mother of five, she has limited time and resources. As a result, the school provides every possible support for Idan who receives one-on-one tutoring from student and soldier volunteers. He also receives reading support from a Master’s student at Leo Baeck’s Heichal Learning Centre (a partnership with the Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Center and the Department of Learning Disabilities at Haifa University). Idan attends Leo Baeck’s after-school learning centre 3 times a week where he gets homework support. He is making slow but steady progress. He loves to play with his friends and is doing very well social and thrives at activities that do not require sitting behind a desk, such as physical education, yoga, and Chi Kong.
Netanel (1st Grade)
Netanel is a very bright child who excels academically and is eager to participate in all school activities. He can always be found singing loudly and enthusiastically during morning Tefillah. Socially, Netanel is having a more difficult time. He desperately wants to be accepted by his peers, but often tries to fit in by behaving badly and seeking negative attention. For example, when he becomes upset or frustrated, this often escalates into a screaming and crying fit that causes him to become the center of attention. Unfortunately, his negative behavior has caused his classmates to back off rather than pursue his friendship. Netanel is also keenly aware of being different. If a child does not want to sit next to him, he says “It’s because I’m black,” despite the fact that his teacher is emphatic that there have been no incidences of racism in the classroom. When he entered the school this year, Netanel’s parents expressed concern that their son might feel different. It is possible that this self-perception may be coming, at least in part, from home. Netanel is about to become a big brother making this a year full of excitement and challenges.
Nehorai (2nd Grade)
Nehorai is an intelligent and capable child who is falling behind academically because there is no-one at home to make sure that he does his homework and coming to school prepared each day. One of five siblings, his mother has little time or energy to take an interest in Nehorai’s schooling. His father is slightly more involved, but is consumed with trying to support the family. He says that the family’s recent move to a new apartment has put a strain on the whole family and made it difficult for Nehorai to focus on his studies. Socially, Nehorai is doing very well and is an integral part of the class. He can always be found playing his favorite sport – soccer – with his friends during recess.
Shlomit (2nd Grade)
As Shlomit is lagging slightly behind in class she is receiving twice weekly one on one sessions at Leo Baeck’s Heichal Learning Centre (a partnership with the Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Centre and the Department of Learning Disabilities at Haifa University). Sometimes Shlomit struggles to understand the instructions of her assignments, so her tutor goes over them repeatedly and slowly until she sees more clearly what is expected. Socially, Shlomit has several close girl friends in her class, but her shyness is apparent when she meets new children, and she has a tendency to clam up. According to her teacher she is not able to socialize with her friends and classmates outside of school due to transportation costs and the fact that her family observes Shabbat, which leaves little time over the weekend. Her teacher is working hard to encourage Shlomit’s mother of the importance for Shlomit to attend afternoon parties and events with her peers.
Alon (3rd Grade)
Despite his challenges in class, Alon is well-liked by his peers and is always surrounded by a group of friends. In the classroom, Alon continues to fall behind academically; there does not seem to be a clear pattern with regards to when he comes to class unprepared as opposed to when he arrives with his homework complete. He receives extra support including private tutoring with a learning specialist, one-on -one homework help from a high school student, and reflexology therapy from the school’s Yoga and Chi Kong instructor. Although he still finds writing difficult, and sometimes cannot read his own handwriting, this is slowly improving and boosting his self-esteem.
Elias (3rd Grade)
A success story! Eias received his first A’s on his report card this semester – in Hebrew and Torah. His teacher says that his good grades have given him the motivation to work even harder. She is strict with him setting out firm rules, clear boundaries, and at the same time giving him a lot of desperately needed love, Elias has improved, both a academically and socially.
He attends the after-school learning centre 3 times a week where he receives help with his homework in addition to extra one-on-one tutoring in reading during the school day. His teacher says his reading has improved tremendously as a result. He also receives massage therapy which helps him to relax and focus in class. Socially, his behavior is also improving along with his grades. Always previously in the centre of arguments and fights, Elias has calmed down and is getting along better with his peers.
Natalie (4th Grade Twin Sister of Or – refused to be photographed)
Natalie is always eager to participate in class, and thanks to the twice weekly tutoring sessions and homework help she receives at the afternoon learning centre, she has made major improvements in both Hebrew and Tanach. Unfortunately, the fact that her parents do not read or write in Hebrew is holding her back as they are unable to help her in any way with her homework assignments. Her mother suffers from severe depression and has been hospitalized on and off since she and her twin sister, Or, were born 10 years ago. Her mother was discharged and returned home about a year ago, which has been a sometimes difficult adjustment for both of the girls. Still, Natalie is an enthusiastic member of the Tzofim (Israeli Scouts) and loves to choreograph dance routines with her friends.
Or (4th Grade)
Although Or still struggles academically to keep up with her classmates, she is a diligent student with a strong desire to succeed. While she has difficulty in both math and Hebrew –Amharic is the language spoken at home - she has begun to make significant headway in Hebrew. Or is a tough child whose outward confidence and leadership skills make her popular among her peers. However, Or’s hard exterior and defense mechanisms make it difficult for her to open up and deal head on with her problems and weaknesses.
Animal therapy has been a wonderful tool to help her express her emotions more easily and she has finally begun to connect with and trust her therapist who believes that Or has undergone significant personal growth since they began working together two years ago. Her homeroom teacher informs us that while Or still tends to retreat into her shell when she becomes frustrated or angry, it happens less frequently these days.
Sara (new 5th Grade Student)
Sara is encountering some academic challenges in Hebrew and Math which the school is in the process of assessing. Socially, she is wonderful, makes friends easily and is very popular even though she only came into the school as a 5th grader last September, when generally speaking the children have already split up into their own social groups.
Sara loves art classes best and is a member of the Leo Baeck choir. Her single-parent mother is dedicated to her and her brother Tzvi and gives them every possible encouragement and support to ensure their ongoing success at Leo Back. They live quite far away in one of the Druze villages and have to get up very early in order to get to school on time but their mother is hoping to find work and be able to move to Haifa soon.
Shoham (5th Grade)
Shoham is a wonderful, bright and curious boy who, according to his teacher, is very popular with the girls in his class. He receives some extra help in grammar, writing and math, but otherwise does very well in class and is highly motivated. He loves to read, play sports and is learning to play the cello. According to his teacher, Shoham is an enthusiastic participant, has a good heart and is always eager to help his classmates.
Last year, Shoham’s father found a decently-paid job, was able to move the family to a better neighborhood, and felt that he was on the road to upward mobility. At the time, he expressed a willingness to contribute towards his son’s tuition. However, in September, when asked to contribute towards the cost of Shoham’s hot lunches, he refused and removed his son from the hot lunch programme. The school is now working to find a compromise so that the father does not lose face and Shoham will be guaranteed of a nutritious daily hot lunch. This experience highlights the need for school and the parents to build bridges of understanding and to overcome the cultural barriers that can impact the health of a child.
Elad (5th Grade)
Elad receives extra tutoring in English, Hebrew and Math twice a week and is making steady progress. While playing soccer is the love of his life, Elad’s teacher is always reminding him of the importance of focusing on his studies. Elad receives no support or homework help from his parents at home in the evenings and his teacher trying to open the lines of communication with his parents to help them understand how important it is for Elad to take the time to thoughtfully complete his assignments. Elad’s teacher is also working with him on his organizational skills; the first step is learning to keep his locker or organized and tidy. All of Elad’s teachers agree that through positive reinforcement and self-discipline, Elad has the potential of being a fine young leader, capable of achieving excellent grades.
Reuven (5th Grade)
A lovely, warm bright boy, Reuven suffers terribly from an unsupportive home environment. His mother suffers from chronic depression leaving Reuven to be cared for by his older sister who attends the Leo Baeck Junior High School and his brother who is serving in the IDF. Reuven receives private tutoring from a learning difficulties specialist and will be undergoing expensive psycho-didactic evaluation before the 2012-2013 school year, which we hope will qualify him for supplementary learning and support services when he enters the Junior High School in 7th grade.
Reuven continues to shine in sports and we are trying to help him join an after-school soccer club which would benefit him on every level. As you can see in the picture, Reuven is learning to play the guitar.
David (5th Grade)
David has turned into an achieving, happy boy. His homeroom teacher proudly reports on a significant improvement: both within and beyond the classroom. David talks non-stop, enthusiastically participates in class, and his newfound independence and motivation to learn is reflected in his good grades and sunny personality. While he once had difficulty with reading, he now loves to read and eagerly borrows books from the library – his favorite books are mysteries! David continues to do well socially and the support he receives from his peers is also contributing to his growing self-confidence and success in school.
Tzvi (6th Grade – joined the school September 2012 when the Ministry of Absorption relocated his single parent mother to Haifa from Beersheba)
Tzvi is an incredibly intelligent, talented, ambitious and well-adjusted child whose transition into the Primary School has been highly impressive since he attended an Orthodox school in Beersheba. Tzvi loves to learn and to share his knowledge with his peers in class. He also enjoys reading and recently wrote a wonderful book report on Sherlock Holmes. On the long term Tzvi, a gifted student, dreams of being a pilot and pursuing his love of astronomy. Both he and his sister Sara are lucky to have a mother who is so deeply committed to her children’s academic success and so sensitive to the importance of education to her family’s upward mobility.
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