Alef –A Training Program for School Principals
Location:Paris and Marseille (France)
Name of implementing organization:Andre and Rina Neher Institute
Date of project renewal:November 2008
Brief description of the local Jewish community
The Jewish community of France numbers approximately 600,000. France's Jewish schools have an enrollment of approximately 30,000 students, ages 3 through 17.
Project aims and objectives
To train 15 new principals for Jewish schools in France
The project is training new principals for Jewish schools in France. The training program prepares participants to accomplish the following tasks: (1) to develop a vision of the educated Jew, and a programmatic approach for achieving this objective; (2) to raise the level of Jewish Studies instruction in Jewish schools in France; (3) to integrate new technologies in education; (4) to communicate effectively with school staff, students, and parents; and (5) to conform to changing administrative and legal standards.
Heads of schools are asked to recommend candidates to participate in the program. The program will begin with a minimum of 15 participants, ranging from 30 to 48 years old, with at least 5 years experience teaching. They will have at least basic Jewish knowledge, and a strong secular education, and will hold either a teacher's qualification (for primary schools) or a Master's degree (for secondary schools).
The training program extends for 3 academic years, from September through June. The first year is comprised of 230 hours. It focuses on Hebrew language, Jewish knowledge, and the role of the Principal. Participants continue in their regular teaching posts. At the end of the year, trainers assess the candidates' ability to continue in the program.
The second year of the program (September 2009 - June 2010) is comprised of 1,000 hours of training (315 of them in Israel). Participants are on leave from their schools and receive a stipend. The second year of the program includes a 75-day stay in Israel, a 4-day seminar in London, and a 2-day seminar in Belgium. During the portion of the second year of the program which takes place in France, each participant receives 20 hours of tutorial instruction aimed at filling specific knowledge gaps.
The curriculum for the training program includes: General Pedagogy (including education in France); Organizing the Work of a School (leading staff meetings, working with the Board and with teachers, analyzing the school's training needs, using new technology in the school); Running the Staff (organizing work in a group, dealing with interpersonal relationships, leading discussions, managing conflict, hiring staff); Jewish Knowledge (Bible, The Commentaries, Jewish Law, Jewish Holidays, Jewish Thought, Jewish History, Israel, Hebrew Language); Developing the Jewish Studies Curriculum; Integrating Elements of Jewish Studies and General Studies; Developing an Informal Education Program as Part of Jewish Studies; Administration; and Legislation. During the final year of the program, most participants will work in school leadership positions and they will receive mentoring.
Main budget elements
Salaries for course instructors
Coordination for Jewish Studies
Stipends for teachers
The project's successes
Trainees are very serious in their work, and very eager to learn and to become real professionals. They understand that school management must develop a vision of the educated Jewish adult which they hope to foster.
Difficulties encountered along the way
The organization of the trip to Israel, which was to include very young children of some students, required many hours of work to design creative solutions for the schooling of these children. The trip was postponed and shortened to 1 month. The influenza epidemic, which led to the illness of several children of trainees, led to further postponement of the Israel trip.
The group is clearly very heterogeneous, both in personalities and knowledge. This requires individualized management. However, we have seen very rewarding changes and developments in each participant in the group.
The economic crisis led to reduction of the planned sources of support for the program. This has forced us to make some cut-backs, particularly in hours of tutoring and travel in Belgium. On the other hand, assistance was provided by a Catholic teaching organization which is very interested in this program.