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Newsletter of the Primary School, Autumn 2015

Sunday 15 November 2015

All the versions of this article: [English] [italiano]

The Road to Peace

“Now recognized by the Ministry of Education and the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council, the Primary School of Wahat al Salam-Neve Shalom has been acknowledged for its thirty years of ground-breaking work.

The School is growing - the year has begun with an increase of 12% in the number of students with children coming from 14 different towns in the area. The staff has also grown and we are hoping the School will be recognized by the Ministry of Education as a “special educational program” promoting peace, supporting the cultural and national identity, and honoring the diversity of its students. Such recognition will help us to obtain additional funding.

We live and work in a very challenging political and social reality. This is felt even before the school year begins when we develop the school calendar. Vacations are decided on by the staff with the Jewish, Muslim and Christian holidays spread throughout the year. Equality, respect and acceptance of the other are not slogans at our School, but guiding principles. They stay with as we educate the children from early childhood, so there is no need to create special programs to create tolerance or counter racism.

We developed the first binational, bilingual and multicultural school in the country, run jointly and equally by Jews and Palestinians. We provided the model and inspiration for the newly developed “Hand in Hand” schools and the bilingual Hagar School in Beer Sheva. Schools like ours are continuing to be developed elsewhere in Israel.

With the current tense atmosphere in the country , our work becomes even more important. As part of our philosophy, we believe that it is the right of each child to grow and be educated in a respectful and accepting atmosphere. The School emphasizes and supports the separate languages, cultures and national identities of its students.

With the support of the Ministry of Education and the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council we educate and teach students to respect all people, to love their land, honor their parents and family, and embrace their culture and language. The School operates in the spirit of Wahat al Salam - Neve Shalom, where 60 Jewish and Palestinian families live in equality, sharing decision making and educating towards peace.

We thank you for your support, continued concern and interest in our work.”

Carmella,
Principal of the Primary School.

The School Year Begins

On the first of September, the School welcomed its growing student body with special attention to its new kindergarteners and first graders.

First graders (wearing bands)

The school year started with almost 200 Jewish and Palestinian children happily rejoining their teachers and friends with renewed energy. The teachers, including eight new ones, were eager to receive the pupils who will once again learn together in both Hebrew and Arabic.

First day of School (rtl: Carmella, Adnan, Eyas)

This year, the School has grown to include two first grade classes. This is part of our plan to double the School’s size by adding two first grade classes each year until there are two classes for each grade level. The second graders will be evaluated this year by the Ministry of Education, testing for proficiency in Arabic and Hebrew. The fifth graders will be tested for Arabic, Hebrew, English and Math. This should show how beneficial our educational model is, compared to other schools. We trust our great teachers to lead the students to successful results, as they have in the past.

Music – Another Language for our Pupils

Music will be emphasized this year in the School as a tool to learn languages and as an expression of multi-culturalism. The extended music program will be led by two new teachers and in the coming years will be developed to include learning to play instruments. We hope to be able to teach the Oud, Guitar or Ney (a traditional Persian instrument). In the Arab world the Ney is used in pastoral areas and a smaller version is used in religious environments and Sufi tradition.

musicians

At the beginning of the new school year and on the eve of the Hijri New Year, a Palestinian-Jewish musical duo visited the School, bringing the pupils together for a great cultural encounter. The duo was composed of Hanna Khoury, a Palestinian violinist originally from Ma’alot-Tarshiha in the Galilee and Udi Bar-David, a Jewish Israeli cellist. Both live today in Philadelphia and have been playing together for nine years, to audiences in the United States and around the world.

Hanna Khoury and Udi Bar David are no strangers to WAS-NS. They have performed here more than once and maintain a close connection with the American Friends of Neve Shalom - Wahat al-Salam.

A New Library on the Way?

The Primary School will double its size in the coming years and the library needs to grow too... We are aiming to update our library and computer program this year in order to support more students and meet their educational needs for the years to come.

The library today

Today, the library area is located in an older building of the School and we want to make it larger and more inviting, adding new computers and tablets, and making the library accessible to people with special needs.

Our kids love to read… and we need more books in Arabic and Hebrew to satisfy their curiosity. The school library is central to learning and plays a key role as a place for encouraging innovation, curiosity, and problem solving.

Our Friends’ Associations have started raising funds for this project and we hope that the first stage will begin this year.

Our dream library

Land of Olives and Honey

The School’s annual family olive harvest event took place in the middle of October and was a source of hope, happiness, and comfort. It had all the right components: the splendor of nature, family, good friends, food, and creative art lead by Michal, the environmental art teacher. It was moving to see the Palestinian and Jewish pupils of the Primary School and their families picking olives together in a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere.

olive picking

New Faces at the Primary School

Tamara is a Hebrew teacher who heard about the school five years ago when she was still a student in Jerusalem at David Yellin Academic College of Education. "One of my professors talked to me about this unique school and I promised myself that I would work there one day. I waited for my children to grow up and then I applied." After so many years of having this project in mind, it was exciting for her to receive her acceptance letter. She joined the School before the summer and happily assisted the staff in preparing for the new school year.

Tamara

While Tamara’s children were growing up, Tamara taught Hebrew in an after school program and volunteered in her children’s school teaching environmental education. In our school she will be using her training in Montessori Education to teach math at the lower grades. For Tamara, the challenge will be to teach Arab children without knowing their language. However, she will be working with an other teacher, as is usual at our School.

Shiraz is a special education teacher who just received her diploma in special education from David Yellin Academic College of Education in Jerusalem. We are excited to have her as she begins her professional career here at the Primary School. “When I began my university studies I was learning science, but it didn’t feel like what I really wanted to do, so I decided to reorient my studies and became involved with special education.” I want to make a positive change in the life of ever child I work with." 

Shiraz

Shiraz’s job is a bit different from that of other teachers because she is working with pupils with learning disabilities. She works with them in small groups and helps them with their language skills. She is convinced that a disability is not an obstacle to success. Shiraz works with the children in the third grade and is passionate about what she is doing.

“It is time to move on and to live together in peace,” she says, “however it is challenging to teach in two languages at the same time.” Yet she seems to be completely enjoying the challenge. In her home town in the north, she says that the atmosphere is really peaceful, even though Muslims, Jews and Christians live together. She is happy to find a similar atmosphere here in the village and in the School. The peaceful atmosphere of her home town inspired her to apply for this job at the School. Shiraz is engaged to be married this year and plans to continue working at the Primary School, dividing her time between Wahat al- Salam - Neve Shalom and her home town.

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