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.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 10.55.42

The judges.

 

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!

Here, Jenni Frazer profiles the 12 outstanding educators nominated in our four primary school categories.Next week we reveal those shortlisted in our secondary school categories.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 10.55.58

Marcelle Ladier

Marcelle Ladier

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

Katie Presser

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

Michelle Webb

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.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 10.56.08

Eliezer Segal, Jewish Studies Teacher, Beit Shvidler Primary School

Eliezer Segal

Eliezer Segal

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

Rabbi Jonathon Simons

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

Rabbi Jonathan Spector

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.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 10.56.18

Rabbi Chanania Engelsman, Jewish Studies teacher, Sacks Morasha Jewish Primary School
Rabbi Chanania Engelsman

Rabbi Chanania Engelsman

 
Rabbi Engelsman has achieved the near-impossible – a paperless classroom. Through judicious use of iPads and apps, this JS teacher finds new ways of presenting his lessons and engaging the children’s interest. His colleagues say that through his use of ICT, he is “transforming Jewish education as we know it”. The innovations include games, self-guided lessons and quizzes, and the overall message is that learning should be fun. On Sacks Morasha iPads there are dictionaries which the children have created, and personalised pictures to illustrate the knotty problem of learning prefixes, suffixes and roots.
 
Sammy Morhaim

Sammy Morhaim

Sammy Morhaim, Jewish Studies teacher, King David Primary School, Manchester

 Mr Morhaim is head of the school’s JS department. His colleagues say they “have no idea how Sammy does it”. For, in addition to his full teaching schedule, he runs all the assemblies and kabbalat Shabbat presentations “with energy and passion, which inspires the whole school community, a brilliant model for what a 21st century JS teacher and leader is”. Lessons are a glorious mix of drama, music, rap and technology. Chumash teaching in particular has been transformed through use of iPads and videos.
 
Daniel Moses, ICT and Sports teacher, Kerem School

Daniel Moses

Daniel Moses

 
Not every parent was initially convinced when Daniel Moses and his team began to introduce the 1:1 iPad initiative at the school. But in the past two years, it has become apparent that there has been a massive culture change at Kerem in Hampstead Garden Suburb, with the creation of an “E-confident” school and a learning curve for children, teachers and parents. Each year, Mr Moses’ pupils showcase their work so that parents can see how the iPads are used in the classroom and how they supplement the teaching, rather than replace fundamental learning.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 10.56.29

Rabbi Cobi Ebrahimoff

Rabbi Cobi Ebrahimoff

Rabbi Cobi Ebrahimoff , Headteacher, Independent Jewish Day School

 
Universally known by the IJDS children as “Rav E”, this headteacher, who arrived at the school originally to teach Jewish Studies, is praised by teachers, governors, and pupils alike. He has the ability, it seems, to turn on a wheel, one minute playing football in the school playground or getting into the pool during the school swimming gala to help one of the pupils, and the next taking children to synagogue if their own parent can’t go with them. Rabbi Ebrahimoff knows all the children well and always has time to spend with them sorting out private and personal worries, in addition to inspiring them so much that, as one parent says, “they run to his lessons”. Every child in the school knows they can come to Rav E for help and guidance, and admiring parents speak of his “magic” as a teacher and a leader. On Shavuot, at his instigation, more than 100 children, together with their parents, stayed up all night learning with him at the school.
 
Marc Shoffren Headteacher, Alma Jewish Primary School

Marc Shoffren

Marc Shoffren

 
Not many headteachers have the opportunity to create their school from scratch, but Marc Shoffren has had the enjoyable experience of doing just that. Alma JPS was started in 2013 as a primary school in Finchley open to Jewish children, together with children of all faiths and none. In just three short years, Mr Shoffren has put his stamp on the school and the innovative teaching methods used at Alma have won high praise from parents. One parent says: “On an educational, pastoral and managerial level, he has been amazing. He developed a curriculum which has enabled all pupils to achieve astounding levels of success, providing inspirational and inclusive religious education, while running a very efficient organisation.” The fact that the school contains children of all kinds of Jewish backgrounds as well as children of other faiths leads to frequent discussions in the classroom of the nature of diversity.
 
Susy Stone

Susy Stone

Susy Stone, Headteacher, Akiva School

 
Susy Stone, who has been Akiva’s headteacher since 2008, brought with her a lifetime’s experience in Jewish and non-Jewish education and is deeply admired by teaching colleagues, in particular for the mentoring role she offers. Akiva regularly achieves outstanding academic results. It was the first non-Orthodox Jewish school to receive an outstanding Pikuach assessment. It has also achieved local and national recognition for its teaching of thinking skills, music, film, sports and interfaith work. Mrs Stone, a UJIA Ashdown Fellow, is closely involved in Barnet Council’s education work and was previously headteacher of Bell Lane Primary School, which educated some of the most deprived children in Barnet. Many of the initiatives she began to support similar schools are still in place. Her deputy, Eloise Tobe, speaks of “a warm and nurturing atmosphere” at the school “which all comes from the tone Susy sets”.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 10.56.53