Students tend to get all the credit when it comes to exam results and academic success, writes Marc Shoffman.
But behind every successful student is a school teacher and last night educators took centre stage as JW3 hosted the inaugural Jewish Schools Awards last night.
Launched by Jewish News and Partnership for Jewish Schools, and sponsored by the Emmes Foundation, the awards offered the opportunity to celebrate the dedication of teachers both in Jewish and secular subjects.
Readers nominated 280 primary and secondary school teachers across four categories that were that were whittled down to a shortlist of three chosen by a judging panel.
All winners, at the awards compered by Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Simon Johnson, received a certificated and a trophy as well as £1,000 to fund a school project of their choice. An anonymous donor on the night also pledge £5,000 for each winning school and £1,000 for projects for all those shortlisted.
The first winner of the innovation in primary school Jewish studies award went to Eliezer Segal of Beit Shvidler, who paid tribute to the inspiration he had received from his late mother-in-law Dena Coleman.
The secondary school prize for Jewish studies went to Sharron Krieger from JFS who spoke of the importance of humour in education, while also taking Justin Cohen, news editor of the Jewish News, to task over the layout of last week’s edition.
Teachers were also recognised for innovation in primary studies.
Rosh Pinah librarian Katie Presser was given the primary school prize for the regular reading circles she arranges and Ben Abram of JCoss was named the winner in the secondary school section for his interfaith work within the school
The awards recognised the contribution of technology with an award for innovation in the use of ICT in the classroom.
ICT and sports teacher Daniel Moses, who pioneered individual iPad use in his classes at Kerem, won the primary school prize, while Malka Goldblatt won the secondary school prize for her use of technology in Hebrew teaching.
Headteachers also battled it out for an outstanding and inspirational leadership award.
Rabbi Cobi Ebrahimoff of the Independent Jewish Day school and Patrick Moriarty of JCoSS won in the primary and secondary categories respectively.
In an emotional moment of the awards, the wife and daughter of the late Rabbi Chaim Warshawsky picked up a lifetime achievement award on his behalf.
Julia Warshawsky told the Jewish News: “My husband saw potential in all types of students and everywhere we went people knew him. He spent his whole life as a teacher and treated each child as his own We couldn’t walk down Golders Green Road without someone coming up and speaking to him and thanking him. I still feel him with us and he would have been humbled by this award.”
The event was all the more poignant in coinciding with Holocaust Memorial Day, a point highlighted by education minister Nick Gibb in a speech at the awards as he highlighted the importance schools play in fighting intolerance and praised the role Jewish schools play in the “rich tapestry” of British life.
Speaking after the awards, Rabbi David Meyer, executive director of PaJes, said: “These awards have surpassed our expectations and are a demonstration of the excellent effort of our teachers.
“It shows that Jewish schools have an important place in the heart of the community.”