A delegation of 40 teachers from Jewish schools in the United States arrived in Israel this week to participate in teacher-training programs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

The Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education (CIJE), committed to enhancing and enriching the quality of Jewish education in the US, has partnered with ORT Israel, the Israel Sci-Tech Schools Network, and the Israel Center for Excellence through Education (ICEE) to export two unique programs to Jewish day schools throughout the US.

“Our US school children know so much about Israel in terms of peace problems, terrorist attacks, and sending mishloach manot [Purim gifts], but I find it is important to also have a positive educational relationship beyond this,” Judy Lebovits, CIJE vice president and director told The Jerusalem Post during her visit this week.

ORT Israel recently signed a cooperation agreement with CIJE to develop lesson plans targeted for American high school students in the fields of science, technology, and engineering. The curriculum offers interactive, discovery- oriented high school engineering and bio-medical engineering courses.

The interdisciplinary project places an emphasis on research and development and helps students improve team work, time management, and research skills.

Under the program, the teacher plays a key role providing guidance and assessment, and becomes part of the team learning along with the students. Twenty high school teachers from the US participated in an intense three-day training program, visiting hi-tech companies, R&D facilities, and ORT schools throughout the country to learn first-hand from Israeli educators and experts.

“ORT Israel carries the flag of values in excellence, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

We are proud to stand at the forefront of exporting Israeli technological education and to share many years of experience with numerous countries, and in this case with the United States,” said Dr. Eli Eisenberg, senior deputy director and head of R&D and training at ORT Israel.

According to Lebovits, the ORT Israel – CIJE partnership was established following the great success of an educational program in math and sciences for middle school students, Excellence 2000 (E2K), developed by the Israel Center for Excellence through Education.

“We purchased the licenses for the E2K program and for the past decade we have partnered with ICEE. Based on the success of that program, we found the need and great demand to upgrade the high school programs as well,” explained Lebovits.

The E2K program encourages students to explore new math and science opportunities through engaging in fun research projects, mind-bending math problems, and international competitions, puzzles, and challenges. The program also involves participation in numerous virtual competitions among students, moderated by Israeli instructors using Smartboard technology (interactive, techbased whiteboards).

Each year in February a delegation of 20 teachers visits Israel for an intense three-day training program at the Israel Center for Excellence in Jerusalem.

Teachers participate in lectures and presentations from Israeli educators, which is key to the development and success of the E2K program.

The ICEE provides exceptional education expertise for bright and excelling students in Israel. The center’s activities include the Israel Arts and Science Academy (IASA), which holds a reputation as one of the leading high schools in the world; the E2K math and science program, reaching students in Israel and abroad; and operating the Excellence Educators Institute, which offers unique teacher training programs.

“It is a privilege to have the opportunity to work with Israel, as our children are benefiting and we have gained so much. We look forward to continuing this relationship for many years,” said Lebovits.

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