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The Glen Eira College Model Blossoms in 2013

March 19, 2013 – 4:47 pm43 Comments
GEC Purim carnival 2013

Picture from this year’s Purim Carnival held on campus at Glen Eira College

Jonathan Schauder is reinforcing and living the mission to grow the Free Jewish Education Movement.
The United Jewish Education Board (UJEB) estimates that more than 1200 Jewish students are currently enrolled in the State Primary Schools which surround and feed into Glen Eira Secondary College, located in the heart of the Caulfield Jewish demographic.

If one makes the basic assumption that a sixth of these families will come through to High School every year that is 200 Jewish teenage students deciding which State Secondary College to attend.

A small number will enter the private system. The rest will want a State-based educational option that delivers a structured, coordinated and in-depth approach to Jewish identity and community opportunities. And that is what we are committed to providing:

A high quality program for state secondary students to explore, develop and live their Jewish identity. And to have that experience delivered in a diverse cultural and premiere educational and social context.

To be clear our mission is to compete strongly for Jewish families in the State system; and to complete the spectrum of educational offerings available to families in Melbourne. The aim is that every State school which doesn’t properly service its Jewish students will begin to feel the pressure of Jewish students being drawn to Glen Eira Secondary College as a growing cultural community hub.

As it stands, the School is unzoned. This means we are genuinely delivering as close to free Jewish Education as possible for literally any child and family who seeks to access it.

That ambition continues to inspire our commitment.

In 2013 and 2014 the Vision is Simple: Build the Jewish SCENE
Over the next two years we aim to build the Jewish SCENE at Glen Eira College.

SCENE represents the five areas of key focus and priority:

–          Social connections – intra and inter school relationships

–          Community hub – a central community meeting place and premium facilities

–          Educational excellence – Hebrew, Religion and Society and on campus cultural activities. Quality after and before school programs of unprecedented relevance to teenagers

–          Networked community services – Collaboration by the full gamut of local Synagogues, movements and families ion the delivery of services

–          Excited students and families – Growth in involvement and activity

Extra-ordinary Progress
In 2013, I believe we have crossed into the new world, where the College SCENE will be celebrated as a central Jewish Community program. A School where Jews not only feel welcome, but also where their wide ranging needs are understood, accepted and met.

In my earlier articles I suggested that to be a “School for Jews” and not just a “school where Jews go” like McKinnon Secondary, Bentleigh Secondary or Brighton High…  Glen Eira College would have to step up its coordinated and structured approach to Jewish family engagement.

And it has.

Now, before I get attacked by the private school sector, I’m not suggesting the Glen Eira Secondary College will ever exceed the complete immersion and peak exclusivity achieved at a Private Jewish Day School.

And no, before I get questioned again by the multi-culturists, Glen Eira College will always be multi-cultural; and all activities and strategies will be respectful of the divide between religion and state. That is a value and platform totally supported by everyone in our movement. Most parents, who choose the State system as their educational vehicle, find enormous value in identity-building from being involved in cultures different to their own.

But what I am writing to update is that we have now planned for the student body at Glen Eira College to have access to around 320 hours per year of scheduled language, culture, history and community activities at school.

Before, during and after hours, the parent group together with cooperating community groups have filled out the Jewish framework at the school very impressively. The before and after school elements will be delivered seamlessly on site at the School immediately following or before the school day. And the School is enthusiastically providing all it can in class time and lunch times.

The structures and systems are now in place to respect the Jewish calendar, include Jewish culture, encourage Jewish activity, and celebrate Jewish input and values. And these approaches will only improve as more parents and student get involved.

What the framework now envisages
In August 2011 all I hoped for and called for was the simple delivery of Hebrew language, Religion and Society and some formal education after school. Now in 2013 the model includes all of the following wide ranging core ideas and programs – and the possibilities keep coming – if you have any ideas or can offer support please share your thoughts on GECJscene@gmail.com:

  1. Hebrew in year 7 and 8: Three hours per week  (30 minutes per day) for each student in class time. This will continue to grow into years 9, 10, 11 and 12. We have around 30 students enrolled in year 7 and 8 currently. Next year we expect to double that number. And we continue to strive for full funding for the program. A goal we have all but achieved this year.
  2. VCE Religion and Society in years 11 and 12: Aiming to commence in 2014 as a formal subject.
  3. Roots Project in year 9: Program and plans are being finalised.
  4. Jewish Identity and Learning after-school for years 7-12: two hours per week, four streams of learning –Torah, Spirituality and well-being, Jewish values and leadership, and Israeli and Jewish History. This is titled: “J-EDI”, The Jewish Education and Identity Program.
  5. Informal Jewish Leadership for years 7-12: two hours per week delivered by the graduates of the Israel By Choice program. The streams will follow a basic plan of: Jewish self-identity, being a Jew in Melbourne, being an Australian Jew and being a Jew in the world.
  6. Israel and Jewish World Tour Breakfasts with the AZYC and SKIF: One breakfast per month, the AZYC and SKIF Bogrim will take the community that comes along on a tour of a Jewish city or site using Google Maps.
  7. A full festivals calendar and plan: Festivals like Purim, Chanukah, Yom Haaztmaut and Yom Hashoah delivered on campus. Religious Holidays like Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur delivered off campus in collaboration with the Synagogues within close proximity of the School. Our Purim Carnival was successfully held on campus on 25 February and involved the whole school.
  8. Two JSN Camps per year – years 7-12: For all Jewish kids, one of the camps delivered by Israeli Shlichim. The next is on April 5 as a Shabbaton.
  9. Kosher food and Jewish texts: At the canteen and library respectively.
  10. An active Jewish Student Network: on campus, including the ideas for Hebrew radio and newspaper projects.
  11. A mentoring and coaching program for any student that needs to “catch up”.
  12. Year 10 international language and culture tours to Israel: being explored and considered.

And with close to 50 people now engaged in the leadership and delivery of the activities, I continue to be grateful, astonished and proud of the changes we have achieved.

Glen Eira College has its open day in the second week of April. I invite you all to come to tour the facilities and explore the school.

I dedicate this update to my Grandparents: Joyce and David Altschuler who passed away recently. They always believed that you had take responsibility to be the person who changed your own part of the world for the better.

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