Staff at the Primary School have been hard at work creating a new Primary School curriculum in both Hebrew and Arabic! The curriculum—which includes methods, materials, support options, and real-life examples of working with the hard questions—will be made available to Jewish and Arab teachers in mixed, intentionally bilingual, and in separate schools. It’s a curriculum like none other. Getting this curriculum into the hands of teachers at all kinds of schools can change the regional and national conversations about a future with a shared society. The innovative curriculum guide comes with teacher training workshops, reaching out to teachers across the region.
Parents are great communicators, teachers and change agents! At the Primary School, parents and children have been learning together through frequent meetings and get-togethers. Throughout the year, these parents have been attending a series of meetings with Palestinian and Jewish facilitators and translators. They will be sharing their experiences as a part of the Primary School’s first international conference, slated to take place at the end of 2018-19 school term. The focus will be on the depth and reach of the Primary School’s curriculum and teaching model which includes parent roles. The conference will be supported by a new interactive website enabling national and international outreach and cooperation.
Bilingual/multicultural curriculum and parent education cost money. The cost of ignorance is a lot higher. Let’s build a future with the teachers and families of the Primary School— one that we can all celebrate.
As a final project of the school year, the theater group produced a play that was based on a children’s version of "The Caucasian Chalk Circle", The play deals with the question of whether legal justice is moral and whether the right to property, which stands at the center of our lives, should take precedence over justice.
The group worked on the play every Friday for six months. They learned drama, practiced acting and finally performed the play for parents and village members. It was a great success! Next year, the group will continue to develop, and we look forward to seeing many more shows!
The Student’s Campaign and the Democratic Process
The new Primary School Library and Digital Learning Center grew out of studying democracy! Students had to identify a project that they could “do” from start to finish. They wrote letters, marched with placards, held meetings and presented a petition to their Primary School Board of Directors. Adults took notice and the miracle of the democratic process became visible. The Library and Digital Learning Center is the outcome of patient and persistent democracy in action.
Renewing the spirit through music!
The Music Program continues to reach out, thanks to the Max and Sunny Howard Foundation. Traditional
and classical instruments were purchased and two classrooms completely renovated for learning music.
Between 3rd and 4th grade, the children try options- an oud, a recorder, perhaps a guitar- and then
choose the one they want to learn to play well. Plenty of practice space, school and community performances,
and visiting Palestinian and Jewish musicians offer a taste of what might lie ahead.
Curriculum Development- Renewing our commitment to making an impact beyond the school
The Primary School’s new curriculum uses an interdisciplinary approach, developing young scholars
connected to their own identities and respectful of world cultures. With the comprehensive teacher - training
workshop for mixed groups of Jewish and Arab teachers, the curriculum will become available to teachers in
other bilingual/binational schools and in separate Jewish and Arab schools.
The Primary School was selected for a pilot program- an incubator for new pedagogical approaches.
Five other leading educational institutions were also chosen, but Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam is the only
primary school! The program enables the curriculum to become applicable to schools internationally.
In February 2017 the school opened the new school library, the library has been designed to be particularly inviting and inclusive for all children of the school and has become a favorite place for many of the children. In addition a new state of the art computer room with 28 workstations is now fully operational. The computer room was actualized from the determination of the school children, who started a campaign for improved computer facilities, as part of a process of understanding democratic processes.
The Primary School library and computer center are essential elements in the Primary School’s education program - a place where children from nursery age through to the primary school can learn to enjoy literature, watch films, do research, or simply relax with a book. The innovative planning, with a soft-covered central stage, four computer workstations, cushions on the floor, a screen and video projector, and intelligent use of space, provides for all of these functions and more
The Primary School is embedded in the only Jewish-Palestinian community in Israel that is itself fully inclusive, bilingual and egalitarian. In addition to the continuously evolving culturally inclusive bilingual- binational curriculum, every time the children (or their parents) are outside for recess, field trips or community events, they see the lived reality that is modeled in their classrooms.
The greatest impact is on the 90% of the children who come to the Primary School from 12-15 neighboring towns and villages, connecting children’s families and friends with wider communities and diminishing fear of “the other”
The teachers are in their second and final year of developing a curriculum and special education materials, to be available in Hebrew and Arabic, for binational, bilingual schools. The music program, based loosely on the (Venezuelan) El Sistema, provides classical and traditional instruments and direct instruction for each child, growing musicians and the seeds of social change through classical and traditional music.
The recently completed Primary School library is filled with open spaces, private nooks, small group study areas, bilingual books and materials, and digital tools that support student research and projects in the visual and performing arts.
Sustainable growth is underway, by adding an additional class of first-graders- each year for a 5-6 year period.
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