Naftali Bennett. (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM
Masa Israel Journey, a leader in providing immersive international experience in Israel, announced that in the coming year it will double the number of young professionals teaching English in schools nationwide.
The organization’s flagship program, Masa Israel Teaching Fellows, was established in 2011 in collaboration with the Education Ministry for recent college graduates aged 21 through 30 who are native English speakers.
The coming year will see some 300 fellows arriving in Israel to teach in schools that have been identified by the ministry as among the lowest performing in the country and in need of additional support.
“Masa Israel Teaching Fellows are serving in communities that are on the margins of society and in need of good, passionate, young teachers,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett said.
Since taking office, Bennett has focused on improving English studies within the Israeli education system.
Last year he announced that the ministry plans to emphasize “practical” English skills, so that all children coming out of the education system would know how to speak, read and write in English.
The ministry said it aims to include an additional 2,000 hours of English lessons with a focus on minimizing gaps between the socioeconomic periphery and the center of the country.
Beginning this September, the fellowship will offer a new track for teachers who are certified to teach in their home countries who will, after initial training, lead their own classrooms with English as a second language curriculum.
Municipalities in the program include: Ashdod, Bat Yam, Beersheba, Beit She’an, Eilat, Migdal Ha’emek, Nazareth, Netanya, Petah Tikva, Rahat, Ramle, Rehovot and Rishon Lezion.
As in the past, fellows with undergraduate degrees will serve as teaching assistants alongside elementary and middle school full-time teachers.
Tamar Zilbershatz, director of the Gap & Service Programs at Masa Israel Journey, said her organization was “thrilled” to partner with the Education Ministry to bring more qualified English teachers into the Israeli school system.
“This program offers young teachers the rare opportunity to develop their professional skills and engage in self-discovery while having a deep impact on the ground in Israel. We invite all educators to join us for this rewarding experience,” she said.
To date, more than 800 native English speakers have served as fellows in the 10-month program.
Nitzah Santiago-Horseman served as a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow in the city of Ramle in 2013 and 2014. “After my Masa Israel teaching fellowship, I’m a different teacher,” she explained. “I experienced significant personal and professional growth and change in a very short amount of time.”
Santiago-Horseman, who worked as a public school teacher before the program, credits her experience as a fellow in Israel for her professional growth.
Today, she teaches special education high school classes in Syracuse, New York, while pursuing a master’s degree in early childhood special education at Syracuse University.
“As a teacher today, I’m more confident, more capable, and grateful for the time I spent alongside teachers and students in Israel,” she said.
Masa Israel Journey is an initiative of The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Government of Israel.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post