Good grades earn top teachers an Eilat vacation

The students did well in class, and now their teachers are going to Eilat. In an unprecedented move by Amit schools, the largest network of religious Zionist schools nationwide, 150 top teachers, along with their families, will be sent to Eilat this Hanukka for a four-day vacation as an acknowledgment of their hard work and sacrifice in the classroom. The teachers, if they so chose, will also be able to travel to Petra in Jordan. "How to reward teachers who raise the bar for achievement in our schools is a matter we've been looking over for the last few years," said Dr. Amnon Alder, Amit's director general. "These are teachers who understand the message of striving for excellence, and a teacher who strives for excellence is able to influence an entire classroom of students," he said. Alder also said that while he was positive the teachers were receptive to Amit's decision to reward them for their hard work, it was the students who truly benefited in the end. "They're the ones who will graduate and move on to find employment," he said. "That's the end result for these teachers - they've aspired to greatness, and have fought hard for the success of their students." Principals from Amit's 70 nationwide schools chose the teachers using various measures of success, but most importantly, the student's matriculation exam scores. Some were rewarded for high scores themselves, others got the nod for prompting an increase in their student's scores from one year to the next. Hemda Shlissel, from Petach Tikva, has been teaching at Amit's Tel Aviv high school for 35 years. As a mathematics coordinator, Shlissel and her staff have brought matriculation exam scores for math up to 100 percent. Shlissel has also done extensive work with girls who struggle with math, and often stays after school to tutor them before the exams. Still, Shlissel shied away from the spotlight. "The success is the entire math department's," she said. "I'm only part of that department and the recognition belongs to everyone. I came straight out of university to teach at the Amit Tel Aviv high school, and we very much believe in our students here. "We work with anyone who struggles with math, over and over again, until they reach 100%. When a student is willing, we're ready to open our homes and our hearts, and sit with them for as long as it takes. I've had plenty of students come to my home for extra tutoring," she said. Nonetheless, Shlissel and 149 of her colleagues from around the country will be in Eilat this Hanukka, as this sweet reward for an often-thankless job has finally found its way to those who deserve it.