Due to the great success of Ezer Mizion’s Active Nurturing Playground Project, a program used to identify developmental weaknesses at the early stages and implement means geared to enhance the child’s development, a new step has been undertaken to further the program.
The Developmental Coordinators’ Training Course funded by the Van Leer Foundation and the Jerusalem Municipality is a follow-up program to the “Active Nurturing Playground,” a project of Ezer Mizion in collaboration with the “Children and Youth At-risk Program,” the Education Ministry and local municipalities.
The training course creates a cadre of developmental coordinators who will work within the schools to empower fellow staff members with tools designed to implement the principles of the Active Nurturing Playground Project.
The Developmental Coordinator is a teacher on the staff who has received special training to identify children from all grades of the Talmud Torah who have developmental challenges, socio-emotional challenges, attention deficits, or language-communication difficulties. He is equipped with professional knowledge and a rich “toolkit” with solutions and practical guidance for other teachers on the staff as well as parents. His training enables him, when necessary, to refer the child to the appropriate professional therapists.
To mark the final leg of the two-year teachers’ training course, principals were invited to hone their understanding of the tremendous value of the resource known as “Developmental Coordinator” in the Talmud Torah-cheder framework.
Fully grasping the great importance of this seminar, each principal blocked off a full day from their tight schedules in order to participate.
Opening greetings were conveyed by Rabbi Shimon Eichler, educational supervisor at the Belz Talmud Torah, who then called upon the well-known educator and counselor Rabbi Aharon Friedman to speak. Rabbi Friedman focused on the proper view of a class of children: “If we keep in mind, that the children sitting before us are not “Grade A” and “Grade B” but rather individual children of different types and varying levels who each need to be approached “according to his way” – we will succeed, with G-d’s help, to find the right solutions. In this way, we will have a hand in saving them and all their future generations.”
Dror Netzer, a senior group leader, led a unique workshop in which the principals learned how to perceive the coordinator as an empowering element, whose strength exerts a positive influence on the entire school, from the principal to the students.
The Jerusalem municipality was the pioneer among local municipalities to lend their assistance to the program, out of a strong belief in its great ability to generate change. Rabbi Itamar Bar Ezer, Director of the Chareidi Education Division of the Jerusalem Municipality, greeted those assembled in his own name and in the name of Rabbi Tzvi Cohen, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem. He praised the principals who rallied to the project so enthusiastically, bringing its innovations to the halls of the Talmud Torah. He then thanked Ezer Mizion for the marvelous initiative and superlative ongoing operation and called upon Rabbi Chananya Chollak shlita, International Chairman of Ezer Mizion, to say a few words.
In his fascinating delivery, Rabbi Chollak shlita described the magnitude of the responsibility on the shoulders of principals and teachers nowadays and their tremendous role in molding today’s youngsters. He raised the problem of electronic devices that gnaw at our pure chinuch and their devastating ramifications and emphasized the great need to shower children with warmth and provide them with sheltered frameworks. This goal entails training the educational staff in keeping with the needs of the generation. Rabbi Chollak thanked the representatives of the Jerusalem Municipality, active partners in the project, and extolled the teachers and principals for joining the program, which has already proven itself as generating substantial change. “You, the principals, are privileged to be partners in a project that imparts the ability to identify challenges when they are still small and to take care of them before they grow,” said Rabbi Chollak shlita. “Take advantage of this ability and use it on a daily basis, because it is for this purpose that the program is intended!”
Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz, Government Liaison at Ezer Mizion, also applauded all those involved in the project and emphasized that it is due to the great seriousness of the principals and teachers in implementing the program that it is achieving its aims. Its reputation is spreading rapidly and schools from across the country are asking to be included.
At the conclusion of the seminar, the principals emerged with a deeper understanding of the tremendous potential inherent in the coordinator’s position in the Talmud Torah and in his ability to upgrade the capabilities of the other teachers, for whom the coordinator serves as an authoritative and available address for counseling, guidance, and advice.