Monday, December 15, 2014

Juggling at the SPACE Scholastic Assistance Program

By Gabriella Feingold
ENP Volunteer

This week was an especially productive week at Yeshivat Netivot Chayim.  I took the light rail straight to the school and started off right away with my first tutoring session.

My students, Noam and Yaakov are at very different levels of English. Yaakov can speak in full sentences and Noam has very little vocabulary at his disposal.  So I juggled encouraging Yaakov with some more challenging reading and writing exercises with the hope that he would learn some new vocabulary.  Meanwhile, I went through the parts of the body with Noam playing a sort of "Simon Says" to help him study them.  We also worked on question words (who, what, where, why, how, how many) and practiced asking different useful questions.

Next, Mola and Yosef came in for a tutoring session.  They are at similar reading levels, but as we read the passage about frogs and tadpoles together, I couldn't keep up with all of the vocabulary they asked for! It was a challenge, but I hope that they learned a lot of words. We also played Simon Says to get some extra body vocabulary in.  It was a jam-packed session!

Bonding Over Common Denominators (And Not Just the Math Kind!)

By Rachel Slater
ENP Volunteer
Student at Midreshet Moriah

This week at ENP I worked with two boys named Yonas and Arush. They worked on math word problems that dealt with temperatures of different substances. They also made number lines to compare numerical values.

The boys and I became instant friends because we bonded over basketball player, LeBron James, from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Both Yonas and Arush were so excited to learn that I live in the same city as their favorite player. They loved talking about the different sports they play and activities they do after school. They also told us a number of jokes, which made us all laugh. Even with their lively personalities, they were able to complete their math homework before class was over. It was a great week at ENP, and I'm glad I got to work with two new boys this week. 

A Rewarding Day at ENP's SPACE Scholastic Assistance Program

By Talia Klein
ENP Volunteer
Student at Midreshet Moriah

At the beginning of this week's session, I was introduced to a new student at the SPACE Scholastic Assistance Program. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with him because he was highly motivated and also welcoming of guidance and instruction.

We worked together for the entirety of the session, as he chose not to utilize his allotted break time because he wanted to make more headway in his work. Not only was I impressed by his focus, but I was also really happy to watch this child independently work hard through the challenging assignment. I literally saw him racking his brain to succeed - it was quite motivating.

Perhaps what stuck with me most was at the end of the tutoring session when he said to me very genuinely, "Thank you so much, it was very nice to meet you." This was the first student I encountered who acknowledged the help he was receiving and the relationships that were forming. I look forward to more encounters like this, where the students display a love of challenge. Perhaps I must think of a way to relate my love of learning to these students to serve as an example.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

New Lands, New Perspectives

Melanie Rivkin
ENP Intern
MASA Teaching Fellow in Ashdod

Before coming to Ashdod, Israel this year, I had recently completed the Repair the World: Pittsburgh fellowship, a program dedicated to mobilizing volunteers in urban communities, specifically those between the ages of 18-35. I volunteered with East End Cooperative Ministries (EECM), a non-profit organization that has served the city’s East End neighborhoods through programs in food access, education, housing, and employment since the 1970s. EECM is located in my former neighborhood, East Liberty, in Pittsburgh. Despite its status as a mixed-income and multiracial neighborhood, there are still many socioeconomic divides between East Liberty’s residents. EECM provided me with the opportunity to directly give back to my former community, to get to know my neighbors and to bridge gaps between us.
Although I am less familiar with community structures in Israel, Ethiopian Jewry contains a culture that I have always been fascinated by, curious about, and interested in being a part of. As a new resident of Ashdod this year, I want to be able to open up to my neighbors, to get to learn new traditions and cultures, and to give back from my own skills and experiences in return. I’m really excited to be working over the next months with the Ethiopian National Project in Ashdod and on social media projects for the organization. 
I’m looking forward to the next 7 months with ENP and to connect further with the community! 

My Personal Breakthrough

By Talia Klein
ENP Volunteer
Student at Midreshet Moriah

This past Wednesday seemed to be a breakthrough with the students, with much thanks to the Gymnasia School's coordinator, Aviva, who facilitated a more structured session by having us start the day off by personally introducing ourselves in front of all the students. We shared where we live in the US, what we are doing in Israel/for how long, etc. Immediately upon hearing of our hometowns, the male students asked about specific professional basketball players from the different NBA teams, and through that we found connections and similar interests. 

Afterwards, we were each placed to work individually with one or two students, as opposed to trying to balance the whole classroom at the same time, as we had done in the past. I noticed that this method was much more conducive to our learning. It was less intimidating for the students, I believe, and made it a little bit more personal. This past week, the volunteering was important for me because I discovered that I will progress with these students little by little each week. At the beginning they are all skeptical and untrusting, but through time I trust that they will begin to open up and appreciate and seek my guidance and previous knowledge. I will keep patient and break down the wall between us, student and teacher, little by little. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

An Educational Week at ENP

By Aleeza Dessau 
ENP Volunteer
Student at Midreshet Moriah

This week at ENP, we had a fun time learning about the Amish! 

The students learned where they live and how they dress from reading together in text books and even a cool video about Amish life.

After learning about the Amish, we were able to learn a little bit about each other by playing fun games like hangman, and even a cool word search. I really got to know my students a lot better and hope to continue learning more about them as the year goes on.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Ready for a Challenge

By Talia Klein
ENP Volunteer
Student at Midreshet Moriah

This week's volunteering was more of a challenge in terms of the students' composure. I found myself having to work harder to encourage them to focus and to complete their assignments. While I was in the awkward position of not wanting to be too stern with them but also wanting them to sit down and get their work done, I think it is important that I was put in this position. These kids need some disciplining, I have begun to realize, and while it is not my responsibility to be a behavior police, it is my responsibility to build a relationship with these kids in order that they gain my trust and thus respect me and others. I am up for the challenge!

Reading and Understanding Reports

By Mona Mizikovsky
ENP Intern
MASA Teaching Fellow in Rishon L'Zion

While reading one of the end-of-year reports to one of our amazing funders I came across this phrase:

"It is important to note that the Government of Israel invests millions of shekels in the effort to register an improvement of single digit increases in matriculation rates for the general national population.  ENP has succeeded in improving performance ay a phenomenal scale, with minimal investment per child"

This phrase really got me thinking.  Initially about how successful ENP is at closing the educational gap by providing its participants with additional study assistance, lunch and academic and social support.  But also more generally about education. It's really amazing how a few additional hours of small group tutorials based on a child's needs can make a difference.  

In the grand scheme of things the scholastic assistance program doesn't seem like much but the changes it produces really are impressive, not only on to the ENP participants but on Israeli society as a whole. 

ENP really deserves as much credit as it gets for the work it does!