From right to left: Evyatar Greenboim, Shay Hizkiya, Tomer Schupper, Yaakov Shasho, and Hemi Carmiel..
(photo credit: Courtesy)
When the AMIT Ginsburg Bar Ilan Gush Dan school in Ramat Gan kicks off the academic year this Thursday, 10 percent of the school’s educators will be former students – working side-by-side with those who used to teach them.
So beloved is the school among its pupils that six of its 60 teachers were alumni that decided to return. At the school, boys in seventh through twelfth grades learn in both middle school and high school settings. The AMIT network of schools boasts 110 institutions that serve more than 33,000 students around the country, incorporating religious Jewish education with academic and technological curricula.
“[I was] the first one to return,” said Shay Hizkiya, 30, a homeroom teacher in the middle school.
Hizkiya, who began working at the school six years ago, teaches religious texts to both middle and high school students, as well as science to seventh and eighth graders. While teaching at the school, he is simultaneously pursuing a master’s degree at Bar Ilan University.
“I thought to myself that because I know the type of students there, I could influence them more,” Hizkiya told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
That “type” of student includes those who care about achieving high grades and enjoy going to school, Hizkiya explained.
“I am so happy at work,” he said. “I am so happy that I succeed to influence the kids and advance them in knowledge of Torah and love of Torah.”
While emphasizing the importance of Torah study, Hizkiya stressed that equally critical to him is teaching sciences, which he loved learning as a student in high school.
“It’s very important that a teacher of holy subjects also teach the sciences,” he said. “It gives the students the understanding that the people who deal with holy subjects also need to be familiar with the secular world.”
Joining Hizkiya are five other former students: Evyatar Greenboim, Ya’acov Shasho, Hemi Carmiel, Netanel Zohar and Yehuda Danino.
Danino, the youngest of the group at 23 years old, will be teaching full-time at the school for the first time this year, but has been involved there since he graduated. While studying for his biology degree at Bar Ilan University as part of the IDF’s Atuda program, Danino also worked as an assistant at the school to help those preparing for the mathematics matriculation exams.
Two years ago, Danino then began teaching Arabic to seventh graders on a part-time basis – a job that he will continue full-time now.
“I studied Arabic at school for the [matriculation exam],” he said. “The teacher and I really connected, and in fact, she wanted me to come help with seventh grade because she’s so busy and is the only one teaching there.”
The connections he has made over the years with his teachers, as well as “the feeling that this school is like a home,” convinced Danino that he too wanted to educate students there. While he plans to eventually pursue a PhD in biology and conduct research, for now he is content to be teaching Arabic at AMIT Ginsburg Bar Ilan Gush Dan.
“The most important thing is that I really, really appreciate and believe in the way of this school – how the studying takes place, how they teach and the education that they want to give to their students,” he said.
Tomer Schupper, the school’s principal, taught four of the six teachers over the course of his 16 years in various roles there.
“I think most of them are surprised themselves,” Schupper told the Post.
“Students in high school usually think about hi-tech or doing business or medicine or science. But on the way, in the yeshiva, in the army mechina [preparatory program], they think about the meaning of life and what they want to give to others. I think that’s the thought that takes them back. They usually send me a Whastapp and say, ‘What do you think about me teaching next year?’ And I say, ‘That sounds good.’” All of the students-turned-teachers have different stories – some really enjoyed their experiences as is, while others are striving to improve certain elements of the school’s program, Schupper explained. But most of his teachers, he continued, “look for something to be meaningful.”
“We feel like a family in our school,” Schupper said. “Students, parents, teachers – we feel like a family.”