The Jewish Schools Awards 2016: Announcing shortlisted candidates for secondary schools, ahead of Wednesday’s awards ceremony
Rabbi Yehudah Hager Jewish Studies teacher, Hasmonean High School
Words such as “love” and “passion” litter the nominations for Rabbi Yehudah Hager, who has spent 12 years at Hasmonean High School “transforming” the teaching of Gemara in particular.
He is admired for his willingness to go that extra mile both inside and outside the classroom, making Jewish Studies meaningful and producing devoted comments, particularly from present and former students.
One former colleague says Rabbi Hager is just “the best at Gemara in London” and he is particularly praised for his introduction of the Gemara Berurah computer program which highlights key words in the text and makes learning “a whole world easier”.
Sharron Krieger Jewish Studies teacher, JFS
Sharron Krieger is described as “an integral part of the Jewish Studies department at JFS”, and as someone “who has been at the forefront of Jewish education for more than 25 years”.
Though she is renowned for curriculum development and has written much of the major resource material used by the teaching staff, she is most praised for her “ability to connect with students who are often disengaged and sceptical”, via her “informal and interactive style”.
This has been most successful, say her colleagues, in working with students “who may have the capacity to cause disturbance and she is particularly adept at differentiating her teaching to cater to students’ personal needs”.
Among the high points of this “truly inspirational” teacher’s work has been a seminar of Holocaust and genocide education which has engaged eight local non-Jewish schools to work with JFS, and a long-term project of sending trained JFS students to speak at both Jewish and non-Jewish primary schools on different subjects.
Melanie Shutz Head of Jewish Ethos, King Solomon High School
Melanie Shutz has been praised for her work in “keeping the community feeling” at King Solomon High School. Besides her formal teaching of Jewish Studies, she has introduced a number of informal Jewish education activities. One such is the Kehilla Lounge, where students can go at lunchtime to discuss Jewish issues in “a safe, calm space”.
Ms Shutz is admired by both colleagues and parents and according to one parent is often at the school until 10pm, preparing lessons and “ensuring Jewishness pumps through the school and children’s veins”.
Malka Goldblatt Biblical Hebrew teacher, Hasmonean High School
This finalist is praised for her “professionalism” and colleagues say she is a model for other teachers across the country. Ms Goldblatt incorporates effective use of technology in all her lessons and “has turned the challenging subject of Biblical Hebrew into something that all her students enjoy”. She spends a great deal of time sourcing new technology methods which can be applied in the classroom and is admired for “always having a class prepared”.
Phil Monaghan Head of PE, Immanuel College
Mr Monaghan originally bought iPads for use in the PE department. But he branched out and offered colleagues training and support in how to get the best out of them in other areas of the school, eventually instigating a booking system to allow the iPads to be used throughout Immanuel. He leads a Professional Learning Group session for other teachers and the whole school has benefited from his initiative.
Kalpana Patel Maths teacher, Immanuel College
Mrs Patel leads Immanuel’s large Maths department with flair, care and concern for her students and her colleagues. She pays as much attention to the less mathematically gifted as high achievers, rolling out help and encouragement across the board. Of particular note is her use of iPads in classroom teaching and software programs for pupils to use in their own time. She launched lunchtime “drop-in maths clinics” and particularly supports newly-qualified teachers.
Ben Abram Informal Jewish educator and Student Voice co-ordinator, JCoSS
Ben Abram has galvanised interfaith work at JCoSS, becoming the Lead Link teacher on the Three Faiths Forum Faith School linking programme and liaising with 3FF to book interfaith opportunities and workshops for the school. He has, say his nominators, “a vision that encompasses a whole-school approach, effectively engaging and inspiring students and staff of the importance of interfaith experiences. His enthusiasm for creating unique learning opportunities for his students and the whole school is clear”. He worked with Year 8 students and a Muslim girls’ school on a programme with the London College of Fashion for a Faith and Fashion project; and most popular was installing a welcome tent at JCoSS to welcome students during Ramadan.
Shoshana Fabian Art teacher, Menorah High School for Girls
The nominations for Mrs Fabian, who joined the school in 2002, are overwhelmingly from admiring students who can’t praise this dedicated teacher highly enough for her “care, love and attention”, both in and out of the classroom. Her work, they say, has transformed the school into a riot of colour – “just visit the walls of Menorah High and the artwork speaks for itself. That in itself is inspirational.”
Just as impressive are the consistently high marks that Mrs Fabian’s students achieved in national exams – in several years, no-one achieved less than an A*. And just as touching is the students’ concern that Mrs Fabian is not getting sufficient credit for her work – “it would mean so much to all her students if she got this award, as it would really show our appreciation towards her.”
Claire Shooter Spanish Teacher, Immanuel College
Mrs Shooter is Head of Spanish at Immanuel but she has changed direction with her work in Enterprise Education at the school. The work done by Mrs Shooter has led to Immanuel College pupils becoming Watford and Hertfordshire representatives in the East of England last summer.
Though Enterprise Education was originally a discipline available only to Year 12 students, Mrs Shooter has extended it to Year 10 and has received a terrific response to her innovative work. It has included a financial capability programme, a series of enterprise guest speakers, a Project Enterprise day in December when all Year 10 learn key business and marketing skills and the “tenner challenge” where Year 10 students have a month to make as much profit as possible from £10.
Helen Freeman Headteacher, Lubavitch Girls High School
Parents who have nominated Mrs Freeman in this category really know of whom they speak as almost all of them have sent not just one daughter to Lubavitch Girls High School but in some cases as many as seven. Without exception, parents speak of her attention to detail and her willingness to spend as much time as necessary, both inside and outside school hours, ensuring that the students can develop to the best of their abilities.
She has been with the school for more than 30 years and presided over its move to becoming state-aided, one of the few such strictly-Orthodox schools to do so. Her watchword is “unity”, say parents, and her mission is to help the girls to succeed emotionally and socially as well as academically.
Yael Hamer Jewish Studies teacher, Hasmonean High School
Mrs Hamer has had an impact on the lives of “Hasmo girls” that extends far outside their school lives, as she is the person responsible for co-ordinating applications to seminaries for post-school study.
She is known, say her supporters, to be fiercely proud of her ability to point students “to get to the sem that is right for them” and won’t let up until every girl has a place.
One of her students confesses candidly that she used to hate studying Chumash – until Mrs Hamer took over her class. “Now,” the student says, “she makes everyone she teaches want to learn and love the topic.”
Patrick Moriarty Headteacher, JCoSS
A parent nominating Patrick Moriarty says: “I do not know any other school where, when the deputy Head comes into assembly and tells the students he has been appointed as the new Headteacher, the entire school gets on its feet and cheers with joy.” But this is what happened with Mr Moriarty, who was promoted when JCoSS’ founding Headteacher left after only two years at the school.
A practising Christian, Mr Moriarty has suffused the school with “menschlichkeit” and has won admiration for his “open, loving manner, his deep knowledge of Jewish studies and culture, and his commitment to pluralism, equality and interfaith dialogue”.
Besides encouraging pupils of all levels of ability, he has won plaudits for his quiet support of school initiatives, such as slipping in to sing with the nascent school choir until it had enough members for him to leave it in good hands.