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Kicking Goals for Free Jewish Education

October 16, 2012 – 7:29 pm64 Comments

The Free Jewish Education Movement Prepares for Year Two – Continuing to Meet Jewish Community Needs at Glen Eira College, our Local Community’s School.
By Jonny Schauder
It is an exciting time. This week the leadership of the movement will come together again with the school to plan out the specifics of next year’s activities, and continuing improvement of all the Jewish community services at Glen Eira College.

It is fair to say that 2012 has been a watershed year. Hebrew was launched in term two of 2012 as an elective language subject with seven students enrolled. This was a full year ahead of schedule. We recruited the wonderful Elinor Mifkadi to teach the subject, and with the school’s support commenced what will be remembered as perhaps one of the most exciting initiatives in the community for decades.

The Minister for Education toured the Hebrew subject after a few weeks and commended it. The school also took massive steps in the acknowledgement and memorial of the Holocaust; and in respecting and planning around Jewish Holidays.

The Hebrew subject delivers close to three hours of formal Hebrew learning to the students per week; the equivalent of more than half an hour per day in school time!

The Principal, Lesley Lamb, has been the absolute exemplar of professionalism throughout the ongoing process, balancing tensions, ensuring progress, delivering on commitments and enabling input.

By Term three, because of its outstanding reputation, delivery and management, the Hebrew subject grew to 10 enrolled students. This represented 10% of the entire year level in Year 7 at Glen Eira College.

I commend all of the leaders, volunteers, supporters, teachers, parents and students for participating in a year that will set wonderful precedents for Jewish communities all around Melbourne, Australia and the world. And hopefully pressure every state school that is in the heart of a Jewish demographic to respond to local needs.

So what can we look forward to in 2013?
For a start, enrolments are up at the College in Year 7 by over 40%, and anecdotally, the Jewish student enrolment has increased in line with that rise.

There are the first examples of Jewish students in the McKinnon High School zone who have deliberately chosen to attend Glen Eira College instead. This success is in line with our vision to provide choices for children in the state school system to access culturally relevant subjects.

At an overall school level, this is consistent with the intent to bring Glen Eira College ahead of the tightly zoned McKinnon High School in all of its main statistics over the next five years.

With regards to Hebrew, we have between 30 and 35 children enrolled in Hebrew in 2013! As I write we have 20 students enrolled in Year 7 Hebrew, 10 students continuing in Year 8 Hebrew, and around 10 students still assessing their choices. This extraordinary growth is envisaged to continue over the next decade as the school continues to engage with the community.

It must be highlighted that with these outstanding enrolments we are almost certain to achieve full government funding for the subject.  This was a significant aim of the movement from the very first proposal submitted.

So what else will be happening?

  • Well this is what the next planning session is about…on the agenda are ideas like:
  • Introducing the VCE Religion and Society subject that enables students to explore their religion’s ethics, beliefs, stories, prayers and texts in comparison to others;
  • A much more aligned and broadened relationship with UJEB in the coordination of the student community on campus and outside school;
  • Potentially exploring partnerships with Israel education travel programs as part of the expansion of the Hebrew experience;
  • Before and after hours Jewish activities dramatically increasing with the ambition of improving relationships with Jewish interest groups who may wish to provide outside hours services;
  • Continued Holocaust memorials and acknowledgement of Jewish festivals.

A continuing call for involvement
Once again, a huge thanks to all those that have given their time, money, ideas, commitment, intellect, support and encouragement so far… you know who you are and you should all be very proud!

If anyone has any other ideas for the Movement or the College, please share them here on Galus. If you have any questions, I will try to answer them, or please contact the school directly.
If you want to get involved, just keep talking about the movement and the college. Share this update with others on social media and in your community groups. And of course if you’d like to be more formally part of the Movement please just let me know.  Momentum can only be driven by community involvement.

I write this article in memory of my dear Grandmother Joyce Altschuler who passed away this week. Baruch Dayan Emet. She always taught us that tomorrow is another day full of potential. Chazak Veematz.


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