27 May 2009 Leadership key to Kadima Madas success The Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem was the venue for this years conference of educators charged with implementing World ORTs innovative Kadima Mada (Science Journey) projects in schools throughout Israel but everyone was focused on the future rather than the past. Nearly 100 principals and World ORT Innovation Leaders from the 33 high school campuses benefiting from the Kadima Mada programme gathered at the museum to share their experiences of putting World ORTs ambitious plans into practice and discuss how to do the job even better. There was an atmosphere of togetherness. Everyone felt that they were part of something exciting, progressive and beneficial something thats going places, said Kadima Mada Projects Manager Sherrie Gazit. Kadoori High School Principal and winner of last years Minister of Education prise for best high school principal, Hillel Hillman, added: Kadima Mada is one of the leaders of innovation in the Israeli educational system. The professional support that the principals of schools participating in Science Journey receive from Kadima Mada turn us into one family, a family comprised of all education sectors and levels of society and a family that knows how to best deal with innovation. The theme of the day-long conference was leadership. General Itzchak Brick gave a lecture describing how he has used leadership skills to make critical decisions in both war and peacetime and in the afternoon participants were split into four groups to examine more closely how their own leadership qualities could be honed for the challenges ahead. What became apparent was the pivotal importance of the relationship between school principals and the World ORT Innovation Leaders, senior staff members picked for their personal and technical qualities to drive forward the integration of new equipment and methods into the pedagogical life of their schools. Similar issues on which the successful implementation of Kadima Mada projects hinged were identified in each of the four workshops, the five most common being the confidence principals placed in their Innovation Leaders, the existence of positive and open relationship between them, the sharing of similar educational objectives, a mutual commitment to cooperation and a mutual interest in adopting challenging, innovative and motivational projects. In seeking ways forward, however, some review of the past year was essential. A fascinating part of that was a preliminary report by Israels foremost planner of behavioural science intervention and training programmes, the Henrietta Szold Institute, which is evaluating Phase 5 of Kadima Mada World ORTs provision of 60 smart classes in six schools. The impression so far gleaned from hundreds of interviews, questionnaires and school visits is overwhelmingly positive. More than 90 per cent of students expressed the desire to continue using the Interactive White Boards (IWBs) which form the centrepiece of the smart classes, and more than 80 per cent said they wanted to broaden the range of subjects in which IWBs were used. More than a third of students felt that their grades had improved as a result of having access to smart classes. Teachers, too, welcomed the new technology with some noting that the IWBs increased their ability to involve students of different abilities in classes. World ORT and the Ministry of Education have been providing training for teachers to help them use the equipment but the Szold Institute says that more training is needed because it the IWBs are such a new resource that there is a lack of appropriate teaching materials. Anything is possible given the excellent working relationship between World ORT and the Ministry of Education. As the Ministrys Deputy Director-General, Dr Itzik Tomer told the conference, it was a connection which emphasised the strengths of both parties. We welcome this connection that begins with the stage of making joint decision, through to execution and implementation for the good of the schools. In my opinion this collaboration results in a good lever for improving high school education, Dr Tomer said. The conference concluded with an awards ceremony to recognise the superb performance of educators in the schools benefiting from Kadima Mada. The Beatrice Wand-Polak Award, which highlights teachers who have been instrumental in improving ORTs educational programme, was presented to Samir Hamuda, who teaches at the Arab school in Kfar Kana, for the excellent teaching materials he has developed. The first Sir Maurice Hatter Excellence Awards were presented in four categories. The award for best teaching support staff went to technician Ofer Rubin for his role in introducing and running the revolutionary Mabat Programme teaching science through technology at Misgav High School. The award for best teacher went to Shmuel Sabag for establishing a project at the Hodayot Religious Youth Village called Rambams Greenhouses, in which students imbibed work values by growing therapeutic plants. Anat Stein at Western Galilee School was named the best World ORT Innovation Leader for her commitment above and beyond the call of duty. And the prize for the best project team went to Ofek LShalom, an inspiring co-existence programme of combined scientific research and related excursions involving a Jewish and an Arab high school in Western Galilee Ofek, which is Jewish, and Shalom. Remarkably the project continued even during the communal tensions arising from Israels defensive actions in Gaza in January. It had been an intensive, productive and constructive conference, said Kadima Mada Director Rony Kalinsky. In addition to our daily contact with the schools it is important for us to hear about the challenges and needs of the principals in a comprehensive, organised way, Mr Kalinsky said. We are proud of the principals, the World ORT Innovation Leaders and the teaching staff who are working hard to educate our children and guarantee their future. We welcome our partnership with the Ministry of Education and the local authorities and hope that we can continue for many years to come to contribute our expertise and knowledge to these important goals, as well as the financial resources that are at our disposal thanks to the support of our individual donors and Jewish communities around the world. In his address to the conference, World ORT Director General and CEO Robert Singer welcomed a new Ministry of Education initiative to increase collaboration between private industry and schools, in particular by giving students the opportunity to learn technical skills on industrial equipment as a precursor to employment in the company which uses the equipment. Our experience throughout the world proves that the connection between the workplace and schools is a vital and obligatory one especially during these times when technological development is so dynamic, Mr Singer said. We welcome this important project. World ORT sees science and technology education as a central foundation stone in the Israeli education system and will continue to work towards the development and advancement of this education at all levels.