Ten Israeli teachers from schools across the country will receive the Recanati-
Chais-Rashi award for the Entrepreneur Teacher, a prize aimed at “encouraging
and highlighting entrepreneurial working patterns in the education system” for
the year 2012.
Each year, up to 18 school and preschool teachers from all
education institutions and all sectors in Israel are chosen for the prize, which
is given out by the Recanati, Chais and Rashi Foundations, three separate funds
which work to advance education in the country.
The winning teacher’s
initiatives, which promote pupils’ scholastic and educational achievements, each
receive a NIS 10,000 cash prize for their dissemination.
First and second
place projects are granted an additional NIS 25,000 to leverage
scientific-educational activities among students in the schools where they are
According to the funds, prizewinners are described as
“field-level people in the education system who initiated and developed singular
aspects of their work and promoted the system’s objectives by using innovative
and creative tools.”
Among this year’s top winners is teacher Isaac Gvili
from the Shapira high school in Netanya, in which about half of the students are
originally from France, Ethiopia or countries of the Former Soviet
Gvili, with the cooperation of the school principal, academics,
hi-tech professionals and the Ramon Foundation, launched a special Science,
Technology and Environment project designed to encourage students from the 10th
to 12th grade to choose physics as a central subject in which they will be
tested on a high unit level in their matriculation exam.
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“It started five
or six years ago,” Gvili told The Jerusalem Post
on Monday. “We were faced with
the question of how to help kids take five units [advanced] physics courses
which will help advance them in the future.
“The goal was to take physics
down from its pedestal so that students understand and feel what physics really
is,” he explained. “Physics is always something that makes students really
uncomfortable, it is a subject considered very hard and that they see as
requiring a lot of effort, so naturally they tend to go to other
Gvili told the Post
that he believes there is a problematic lack
of students who choose focus on scientific fields in Israel.
have about 6.5 percent of students doing a scientific and technology- oriented
matriculation exam, it’s a severe issue,” he said. “Not that everyone should go
to physics, but I think it’s a huge missed opportunity when we could easily have
20 percent of those students.”
Through Gvili’s initiative, groups of two
or three students meet twice a week with volunteers from both hi-tech and
academia who help them develop works in fields such as aeronautics, medicine and
assistance to the disabled, among many others.
“We expose the student to
various fields so that he can then tell us what he likes best and that’s what
his project will focus on,” Gvili stressed.
“Unfortunately, a lot of
people go through life without ever finding the one thing they love to do, I
believe that if a kid finds something he likes, we need to use it.”
final projects count for credit towards their matriculation exam, and some of
the best works are then selected and given additional credit.
their work, students are personally assisted by professors from Tel Aviv
University, the Weizmann Institute of Science, Bar-Ilan University and hi-tech
“It’s really emotional when you see a 10th grade kid who was
told he can’t complete three units of math go through our program, then gets
accepted into elite IDF units and goes on to higher education,” Gvili
“But there is also something really sad about that: Think about the
very few that we ‘saved’ and the hundreds more students in Israel that people
don’t reach out to.
“It only takes one teacher to say something bad, and
they believe they can’t do things,” he added. “We teachers have such an
important role, heaven forbid we do it wrong.”
The prizes for the
entrepreneur teachers are expected to be awarded in the coming months during a
ceremony which will take place in the presence of Education Minister Shai
With the cash prize involved in the award, Gvili told the Post he
hopes to expand the program, by collaborating with more hi-tech companies and
possibly with the army.
Gvili also expressed interest in bringing the
program into more schools in the country and is already planning the initiative
with two institutions: One in the Golan Heights and one in the South of Israel.
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