Inspiring teachers at Jewish schools around the country are being honoured with a brand new awards night hosted by Jewish News and Partnerships for Jewish Schools (PaJeS).
While GCSE and A-Level results shine an annual spotlight on the achievements of students, there is no such public focus on the tireless work of the teachers who help to inspire that success year in and year out.But now, the Jewish Schools Awards, sponsored by the Emmes Foundation, highlights their work in around 120 Jewish primary and secondary schools across the country.
The awards, which will be handed out at a glittering ceremony in central London on Wednesday, 27 January, will be presented in four categories – innovation in secular studies, innovation in Jewish studies, use of information and communications technology and inspirational leadership.
PaJeS executive director Rabbi David Meyer said: “Our community is rightly proud of our excellent schools. However, too often, we forget to recognise the tireless dedication of the teachers and leaders responsible for their success. The Jewish Schools Awards is not a competition between schools but an opportunity to get together, celebrate the outstanding practise taking place in our community’s schools and say thank you to dedicated professionals who are educating our children and building the foundation of our future.”
Richard Ferrer, editor of Jewish News, said: “Behind every good student is a good teacher, someone dedicated to educating and inspiring the next generation. Our community celebrates its outstanding students every year through consistently impressive exam results. Now we’re thrilled to be working with Partnerships for Jewish Schools to pay tribute to talented educators across the country.”
For the past month, hundreds of teachers, students and parents have submitted nominations. Last week, our expert panel of judges considered these nominations and selected eight overall winners – plus the recipient of a lifetime achievement award!
Marcelle Ladier, Secular Studies teacher, Menorah Foundation School
Words that are repeated over and over in this nomination were “warm”, “important” and “special”. For this teacher’s gift is to make each child – and parent, for that matter – feel as though they are the most important pupil in the class, inspiring the children to even greater heights than they or their families thought possible. At least one child has begun to write lovely poetry at Ms Ladier’s urging, while another parent has asked if she can adopt the teacher – who appears to have a place in her heart for every child. She has imbued many of the children with a love of reading and some of them have even tried to skip dental or medical appointments if it means missing a lesson with Ms Ladier.
Katie Presser, Librarian, Rosh Pinah Primary School
Katie Presser has been the school’s librarian since 2006 and her mission is to infuse the children with a love of books. She makes contact directly with publishers so that the school has the best variety of new books; she found an author to be “in residence” and give talks to the children, and she runs booster reading sessions for students who need more help. One admiring parent was keen on Mrs Presser’s work in getting Rosh Pinah chosen as a Children’s Book Awards testing school. “She has made the library an integral part of the school,” says one parent.
Michelle Webb, Reception Chol teacher, Noam Primary School
The children in Noam’s Reception class who are taught by Miss Webb sound as though they are having a wonderful time. The school is small, but Miss Webb is praised for using her creative imagination to “look past the space issues” and for offering “amazing learning experiences for the children”. These include the important experience of puddle splashing, working in a “party shop”, and even “going camping” while still learning to a very high standard.
Eliezer Segal, Jewish Studies Teacher, Beit Shvidler Primary School
Eliezer Segal’s lessons “sparkle”, says Jeremy Richards, head of Kodesh at Beit Shvidler, formerly Edgware Jewish Primary School. So innovative are his pioneering methods of teaching Chumash that his lessons are filmed by the Jewish Curriculum Partnership and the series of videos produced have become a key standard resource in JCP training. This passionate teacher is famed for his array of learning activities and games, and will happily raid other disciplines, such as maths or a PE training day, to try to find new and imaginative ways of teaching Kodesh. One of his most popular innovations is his question cube, made by the children themselves, with leading questions on each face – Why? What? Where? Who? After learning a piece of text, the pupils work in pairs, throwing the “dice”, and asking each other questions based on which question lands face up. Or think of the fun that can be had when translating against the clock, to the music of Mission Impossible.
Rabbi Jonathon Simons, Kodesh teacher, Broughton Jewish Cassel Fox Primary School
Rabbi Simons is described as a “truly exceptional” teacher who encourages children to learn through a range of ICT innovations, including a variety of iPad apps. He has shown “unswerving devotion to meeting the needs of every individual student,” say his teaching mentors, praising him for his work with children of all levels of learning ability. His work has been particularly praised for allowing children to work at their own pace without putting them “on the spot” in class, and also for involving parents in how their child is getting on. One parent – who is also a teacher – said that Rabbi Simons was “one of the most hard-working teachers I have ever come across. He is brilliant with kids of mixed ability and has been able to adapt technology and integrate it into the classroom. Because of his devotion, my child has learned loads and never wants to miss his class”.
Rabbi Jonathan Spector, Jewish Studies teacher, Rosh Pinah Primary School
Rabbi Spector is described as a “truly exceptional” teacher who encourages children to learn. “My children’s favourite subject is Jewish Studies”, says one impressed parent whose kids enthuse about Rabbi Jonathan Spector’s classes at Rosh Pinah. His emphasis has been on creative ideas to make both the classes and homework fun. Rabbi Spector, who has been at the school since 2014, has recruited a new team of Jewish Studies teachers at the school and the impact has been dramatic, making the Jewish nature of the school an “immersive experience” for those inside and outside the classrooms. Among his innovations have been Jewish philosophy clubs, such as the Big Thinkers, and online class Jewish interest blogs, a school Jewish art gallery, and weekly challenges. Teaching colleagues, who admire Rabbi Spector’s ICT skills, note that academic standards have risen sharply – and there is a new emphasis on parental involvement.
Sammy Morhaim, Jewish Studies teacher, King David Primary School, Manchester
Rabbi Cobi Ebrahimoff , Headteacher, Independent Jewish Day School
Susy Stone, Headteacher, Akiva School