At a dedicated session of the annual JDC Board meeting in New York, three inspiring leaders told the story of Chotam, Teach First Israel, a young organization dedicated to placing highly motivated and well-trained teachers in underserved and challenging classrooms to bring equity to the education system in Israel.
Wendy Kopp, the Founder of the Teach For All Network which includes Teach for America shared how she founded Teach for America and later Teach for All to provide quality education for all students regardless of background and circumstances. She spoke about social responsibility and the importance of placing great teachers in the poorest communities. Kopp said she was especially proud of Chotam and that it serves as a model for many other Teach For All country systems.
Maya Kadar Kovalsky, Vice President of the Naomi Prawer Kadar Foundation Board of Directors, told an audience of JDC board members about her connection to Chotam. She said, “first as a family, then as our family foundation, the Naomi Foundation, our partnership with Teach First Israel was a natural fit.”
Kadar Kovalsky told the story of Chotam’s founding, when her mother, Naomi Prawer Kadar PhD, z”l, her father and foundation president, Avraham Kadar, MD, and Shlomit Amichai, renowned Israeli education expert, sat together talking about the state of education in Israel. They “hoped to improve the education system by empowering educators and providing all children, regardless of background, with a quality education.”
Kadar Kovalsky continued, “soon after that discussion, we became founding partners of Teach First Israel along with the JDC, the Ministry of Education, and Hakol Hinuch.”
She spoke to the audience about her family’s involvement, and encouraged others to learn more about Chotam, a program that has in five short years, made an impact on the educational landscape in Israel. Kadar Kovalsky said, “our family took a risk when it provided the seed funding for Teach First Israel. Now it is clear that this is one best philanthropic investments we have made.”
The audience was especially enthralled by the stories of veteran teacher from Chotam, Roy Ayalon. Ayalon spoke about challenges in his classroom and told anecdotes about how he worked with individual students, getting to know them as people, inspiring them with sports and other unconventional tactics to help them reach their potential.
At the time of this presentation at the JDC:
- Teach First Israel has a growing community of 520 educators, of which 479 remain in the classroom. (That’s a retention rate of 92%.)
- 70% of those educators hold administrative leadership positions at their schools
- 90% pursue masters degreesin education and education administration
- In just 5 years, there are already 2 principals and more on the track to becoming principals