INITIATIVE EXPANDS ISRAEL EDUCATION AT COOPER CITY SCHOOL
Jun 14, 2019 Florida Sun Sentinel and Jewish Journal
Beth Emet Elementary School in Cooper City is one of eight Jewish day schools across North America to join the third cohort of The iCenter’s initiative, iNfuse: Israel Education in Day Schools.
The iCenter is a a national Israel education organization, and its initiative aims to improve Israel experiences and education in Jewish day schools. BEES and the other schools in this cohort will create a plan to make Israel education and experiences a deeper part of all aspects of school life, including classes such as science, the arts, Jewish studies, Hebrew language, all-school Israel engagement and Israel travel. The initiative is funded in part by The Avi Chai Foundation and through matching funds raised in the schools’ communities.
Valerie Shammay, Israel coordinator and Hebrew-Judaic Studies educator at BEES who is the school’s representative during this initiative said, “Our goal at BEES regarding the implementation of the iNfuse program is exactly as it’s name said, to infuse and expand our Israel program in our school.”
“We’d like to have a wider network of educators and schools sharing the same passion, vision and mission as us.”
Shammay continued, “By implementing the program we will deepen and align Israel learning into our school.”
“We will engage not only in the Judaic Studies/Hebrew class, but also bring it from the classrooms to the playground, from our school to Israel. The program will aid us in integrating the students, staff, and parents to build personal enduring connections to Israel and its people.”
Shammay said the school began the process of implementing the program in 2018 when she attended the iCon conference that fall.
“The program came to BEES at the perfect time to enhance and give us a wider perspective on a program that we were already implementing. Now we will have more structure, guidelines and guidance with the wonderful support of The iCenter mentors and the network of all the other schools and educators. We are all very excited about this wonderful opportunity.”
Shammay said this program on Israel education is perfect for the school.
“It will allow us to framework and perfect all the work we are already implementing at BEES. We will be able to show and aide other schools the magnificent programs that we have in our curriculum, how we implement Israel, and the love for Israel in different areas of our curriculum.”
Shammay continued, “We will improve the idea and ideals of being Jewish.”
“With the help of The iCenter/iNfuse, BEES will be able to bring Israel to our students, families, and staff through various methods such as the arts, drama, literature, language, games, history, math, prayers and endless ways to preserve and engage learners in meaningful and dynamic relationships with Israel, as well as understanding Israel as core to their Jewish identities.”
Yael Jabok, the school’s Hebrew teacher, will assist Shammay in implementing the program in the upcoming school year.
Lesley Litman, a consultant with The iCenter, said in a news release, “iNfuse offers a framework for students, educators and the greater school community to build personal, enduring connections to Israel and Israelis.”
“These connections can be built in so many different settings and experiences. An initial step in this process is for schools to map out what is currently happening in Israel education throughout the school and to explore ways, such as articulating meaningful learner outcomes, weaving Israel into additional aspects of school life, and creating opportunities for all faculty to engage with and learn about Israel, to deepen the children’s personal connection to and deep knowledge of Israel.”
The program has already made its way to South Florida. Donna Klein Jewish Academy in Boca Raton was in the initiative’s first cohort in 2014 and finished a couple of years ago. However, The iCenter continues to engage with the school to further impact its students. Also included in the first cohort was Jacobson Sinai Academy in North Miami Beach, which has since closed. Hochberg Preparatory in North Miami Beach, which has since joined the David Posnack Jewish Day School Network, was also part of the first cohort.