24 October 2008 Israels Kadima Mada principals forge links for the future The strides made by the ORT educational network in the Former Soviet Union over the past 18 years provide a taste of things to come for Israeli schools participating in World ORTs Kadima Mada (Science Journey) programme. A group of 28 Kadima Mada school principals savoured the prospect of further technological leaps and educational bounds during a weekend spent at the award winning ORT de Gunzburg School in St Petersburg. They had gathered for the second World ORT seminar for Kadima Mada principals, an opportunity for participants to deepen their appreciation for the pedagogical potential of the advanced technology which World ORT has been providing them as well as to create stronger bonds with each other and with ORT professionals internationally. This seminar has made new connections between the Israeli and Russian principals which I hope will lead to a greater sense of partnership and the instituting of joint projects between their respective school especially student exchanges, said Avi Ganon, who is currently Deputy Head of the World ORT Representative Office in Israel as well as World ORT Representative in Russia, Belarus and Central Asia. Israel’s Kadima Mada principals standing by the World ORT memorial plaque commemorating the building where ORT was founded. World ORTs Kadima Mada programme has already seen significant investments made in providing more than 30 high school campuses in underprivileged communities with, among other things, high-tech science laboratories, state-of-the-art facilities for teachers, smart classes with interactive whiteboards and teacher training. The schools are now among the best equipped in Israel and the morale among both teachers and students has risen accordingly. The improvements World ORT has been able to make in the Israeli schools in partnership with the Ministry of Education and local municipalities have been extraordinary, Mr Ganon said. But the Kadima Mada schools are catching up with our schools in Russia. The Israeli principals were surprised by the level of technology and technological expertise they found in Russia. The fact that ORT Russia schools have gone through this process of modernisation in recent years means that the Israelis can learn from their experience and see how they can implement that model in their own country. Last weekends seminar featured special presentations designed to help the Israelis gain insight into what the Russian model consists of. ORT Russia National Director Dr Slava Leshchiner and ORT de Gunzburg Deputy Principal Gregory Vodopyan discussed with the visitors the modern school ICT environment in Russia using ORT de Gunzburg as a case study. Together with Marina Sorokina, they also each led a study group three of which the Israelis had been divided into exploring how ORT de Gunzburg uses modern teaching technologies in general studies, Jewish studies and science and technology. The Israelis were also divided into two groups for panel discussions with four principals from ORT CIS schools Svetlana Klimina of the ORT Herzl Technology Lyceum in Kishinev, Moldova; Yuri Kinkov of the ORT Kiev Technology Lyceum, Ukraine; Dr Marina Moiseeva of the ORT Moscow Technology School; and Janna Kuzmina of the ORT Jerusalem School in St Petersburg on exploring partnership in Jewish education between Israel and the diaspora. The seminar also offered insights into St Petersburgs education system by Elena Spasskaya, Deputy Director of the citys Academy of Post-Diploma Education for Teachers; an analysis of Russian education reform by Professor Yefim Kogan, a former Minister of Education of the Samara Region and now a member of the ORT Russia Board of Directors; overviews of World ORT activities past, present and projected in Israel and around the world; and a workshop on educational leadership and initiating change led by the Head of the World ORT Representative Office in Israel, Rony Kalinsky, and Hillel Hilman, Principal of the Kadoorie Youth Village in the Lower Galilee. Together with stimulating leisure activities, it was a busy weekend which made a deep impression on participants. I saw in the de Gunzburg School educational methods of the future, said Itay Levi, of the Rodman High School in Kiryat Yam. I was highly impressed by what I learned of World ORT, by the dreams that have come true. The seminar has energised me. Dr Shoshana Morchnik, of the Shikma High School in Yad Mordechai, said: The seminar highlighted once again the complexity and flexibility of World ORT activities. Our goals in Israel differ from those of our colleagues in Russia but we must think together about mutual goals and ways in which we can develop programmes. Rajah Gadban, Principal of the high school in the Druze town of Horfesh, said: In 35 years teaching I have never been involved in such a pleasant experience brining together Jewish and non-Jewish head teachers. World ORT managed to organise a great group and this seminar expressed the power of World ORT which is seen every day in our school. I hope that these seminars continue. Kadoories Mr Hilman said: We got to know each other and felt like brothers Jews and Arabs. Concluding the seminar, World ORT Director General Robert Singer emphasised that the most important people in the room were the principals and that it was World ORTs privilege to help them. We see in this meeting a first step in the exchange of information and knowledge, Mr Singer told the principals. We see World ORT not as an organisation but as a value, an idea, a movement. You are spearheading the move to bring more partners to our educational activity in Israel and to make this activity a success. I hope you will be the deliverers of our ideas to Israelis. The Head of the World ORT Representative Office in Israel, Rony Kalinsky, said the seminar had allowed the Israeli principals to develop professional and fraternal bonds that would help to carry Kadima Mada forward. Their knowledge and understanding of what World ORT does in Israel and around the world, and of the organisations internal processes, have increased immeasurably and this has strengthened their commitment to World ORTs mission and values, Mr Kalinsky said. And the relationships they have been able to make means that they can now offer each other support in their daily working lives here in Israel.