26 July 2006 ORT CIS and Baltic States School Principals Seminar World ORT brought together 15 school principals and six other educationalists from the former Soviet Union for a three-day seminar this week marking 15 years of a formal Jewish education system in the region. The top level educators from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Latvia, Lithuania and Kyrgyzstan spent three days at ORT House, London to share experiences and map the way forward. We discussed and elaborated the expansion of the ORT educational network in the region, said World ORT Representative in Ukraine and Moldova Dr Slava Leshchiner. Seminar participants are committed to raising the quality of ORTs already high standards using IT solutions, Dr Leshchiner said, and the expansion of services to students. Were talking about science teaching based on experimental data logging systems, cross-subject integration, and project method teaching in which students produce their own projects, he said. World ORT Head of Coordination Vladimir Dribinskiy added: We also looked at the role of ORT schools in community development and designed a schedule on future common activities including student exchange programmes, teacher training, and unified summer schools for students from across the region. The seminar in progress. Guest speaker Dr Helena Miller, Director of Education and Professional Development at Leo Baeck College, addressed the participants on Tradition and Change: General and Jewish Schooling in the UK. This was an extremely useful session, Mr Dribinskiy said. Our principals need to know the experience of Jewish formal education around the world; they are not familiar with non-Israeli, non-ORT experiences. It was particularly interesting to hear about the British experience because Jewish education here is long-established. One of the participants, Dr Marina Moiseeva, said the seminar had been a great experience through which she had learned a lot. Dr Moiseeva, who became principal of the Moscow ORT Technology School in Moscow two months ago, said she had particularly benefited from the opportunity to share experiences with her fellow professionals. Every new principal wonders whether the challenges they face are unique but now I know that my colleagues have experienced similar situations and I feel much stronger, she said. Seminar participants. Dolina Shalmina, the principal at ORT Aleph School in Zaporojie, Ukraine added: Its very important for us to see the people who are supporting our work to do the best for our children the administrators, fundraisers, and project writers with whom we could not put our plans into action. Ms Shalmina said a highlight of the seminar had been Dr Millers presentation. The ORT network is non-denominational so it was interesting to discover that there are no non-religious Jewish schools in Britain. Perhaps in the future we could invite British educators to see how we function, she said. Olga Trupp, principal of Jewish School No 12 in the Tatarstan capital of Kazan, said: The seminar has been just great. Our school is called Mishpachteinu (our family) because when we say it we mean were part of the ORT family. I know understand this completely. She said that the seminar had inspired her to organise a fundraising conference of parents and the Jewish community on her return to Kazan. World ORT, founded in St Petersburg in 1880, is the worlds largest Jewish education and vocational training non-government organisation with some 270,000 students Jewish and non-Jewish in 58 countries. ORT renewed its operations in the CIS and Baltic States in 1991, more than 50 years after its activities were forced to close there. Currently, ORT coordinates operations in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania and Kyrgyzstan: 53 projects in 32 locations serving more than 27,000 people.