A geography teacher in Israel, a maths teacher in South Africa and a dental prosthetics teacher in France are among this year’s winners of World ORT’s Beatrice Wand Polak Award.
Together with five other educators, from Latin America to the Former Soviet Union, they have received cash prizes after distinguishing themselves in the eyes of their peers for their skill, vision and dedication.
World ORT Chief Program Officer Vladimir Dribinskiy congratulated this year’s winners who, he said, were upholding the ORT ethos as described 70 years ago by Aaron Singalowski a”h, the organisation’s then Director General.
“He identified the justification for ORT schools as their high technical and pedagogic level and their living spirit of Jewish culture. That was in 1947. The Beatrice Wand Polak Award, in identifying and rewarding exemplary educators in our network, shows that what was true then is just as true today – and will continue to be so.”
Orit Wilson, a geography teacher at Har V’Gai High School, in the Upper Galilee, has been lauded for giving her subject a new lease of life at the school by developing and implementing new teaching materials and methods.
“Orit’s teaching is varied and interesting and she makes sure she keeps up to date with all the newest methods and tools that are available,” said Pedagogical Coordinator Inbar Ehrlich. “Through the use of computerised exercises and tasks and interactive presentations she allows every student, no matter what their level, to reach their full potential.”
Ms Ehrlich concluded that Orit had become “a role model for her students and other teachers and an important source of advice for 21st century teaching methods… she is an exemplary teacher who uses her considerable and varied skills to encourage excellence in her students and other staff members.”
High praise, too, for Nurit Ozover Bergenfeld, head teacher of the 8th Grade at Colegio Israelita de Mexico ORT (CIM-ORT).
The high school’s principal, Adela Faena Hop, noted how Nurit had given the Shorashim project at the school, through which children explore their Jewish heritage, a new spin by incorporating the Holocaust remembrance Butterfly Project, organising cultural exchanges with Ibn Gabriol School in Madrid, and embarking on a joint project with World ORT Kadima Mada’s Rodman Junior High School in Israel.
“Nurit is a teacher who incorporates innovative, humanistic and global-thinking projects which greatly impact on the principles of our school’s vision and mission,” Ms Faena Hop said.
Jimmy Darmon, a dental prosthetics teacher at ORT Daniel Mayer in Montreuil, on the outskirts of Paris, is renowned for the resources he has created, from richly illustrated booklets to online tutorials, which have proved particularly helpful for students who found themselves overwhelmed by the wordy content of traditional teaching methods.
And he has embraced educational technology – from projecting his techniques on a large screen for the class to copy and so learn-by-doing to digitising administrative documents and trailblazing the use of communication technology in organising a teachers’ conference.
“Jimmy has an innovative approach to teaching,” said Anne Morgensztern, Deputy Educational Director at ORT Montreuil. “With his willingness to sacrifice his time and share his knowledge and his love for new technology, he pursues one goal – to lead all his students to success.”
His commitment is shared by Adelaide Makgopo Ramaoka, a teacher at Dr Mathole Motshekga Primary School, near Johannesburg. The grit Adelaide has shown in surmounting financial obstacles to her furthering her own education is now employed in the service of her students and fellow staff members.
“She showed dedication and commitment to professional development and eagerness to be mentored to excellence,” said Chamu Mawire, the facilitator of the ORT South Africa Bidvest Ivory Park Maths/ICT project in which Adelaide participated. “She always went an extra mile in helping pupils with barriers and identifying the source of their problems.”
Not only is she a team builder who organises workshops and mentoring for new teachers, she makes sure to communicate well with parents which boosts pupils’ confidence and participation.
Receiving the Award has been particularly significant for Martin Schnook: an alumnus of ORT Argentina, he is now the Head of the Mass Media study track at its high school’s Belgrano campus.
“This Award has a double meaning for me, both personal and professional,” he said. “It encourages me to keep devoting myself to education.”