Israeli high school, international style

New International Program at Boyar High School in Jerusalem enables students from Israel and abroad to earn an International Baccalaureate high school diploma while living in Israel

 MBHS International  (photo credit:  Liran Keinan)
MBHS International
(photo credit: Liran Keinan)

What would motivate an 11th-grade high school student to leave home and come to Israel for their junior and senior years of high school? The answer just might be MBHS International, a new international program at Mae Boyar High School in Jerusalem.

The MBHS International program will award graduating students the International Baccalaureate (IB) high school diploma, recognized as the gold standard in college preparatory education. IB diploma graduates are more likely than their non-IB peers to attend highly selective colleges.

Shachar Yanai, founding director and head of the program, explains, “We are bringing Jewish youth from around the world to connect them in a meaningful dialogue that will investigate their individual identities, their commitments, their belief systems, and give them a hands-on experience with Israeli society, its challenges, and its people.” 

The MBHS International high school experience will bring English-speaking Jewish youth together from around the world – from the Former Soviet Union, Europe, Latin America, North America, South Africa and Australia together with Israelis – to participate in a rigorous program that cultivates knowledgeable, open-minded, caring students who are dedicated to making the world a better and more peaceful place. The program is designed for students of all Jewish affiliations.

 MBHS International (credit: Liran Keinan) MBHS International (credit: Liran Keinan)

Jerusalem itself as a living, learning laboratory

Eden Israeli, co-founder and head of pedagogy, explains that the curriculum in the MBHS International program consists of six main subject areas – language and literature, language acquisition, individuals and societies, sciences, math and the arts. The curriculum emphasizes the development of communication, teamwork, self-management, and thinking skills, along with learning in global contexts and developing intercultural understanding.

Yanai points out that beyond the study of English, Hebrew, psychology, biology, chemistry, math and various other subjects, the MBHS program will utilize the city of Jerusalem itself as a living, learning laboratory. For example, students participating in a major project on world religions will learn about organizations that hold interfaith dialogue in the city. Participants in a course in visual arts will prepare presentations based on Jerusalem neighborhoods that they will select, with each presentation concentrating on a particular aspect of the community. Jerusalem will also be a focus of classes in global politics as a test case for the management of international conflicts. Yanai adds that in addition to the diverse academic program, students will participate in a series of seminars that will deal with the contents of Judaism, Israeli society, sustainability and leadership. Class sizes will range between 15-20 students, offering learning in small groups with individualized attention.

“I’m thinking about my future and my present”, says Gabi, a 10th-grade student in the preparatory program at Boyar High School. “With an IB diploma, I can apply to universities anywhere in the world and feel prepared to get accepted and succeed at those universities and out in the world. In the IB program, the classes are small, and I can really feel seen. It’s a big challenge to study in English, and I know I’ll have to work hard, but I also know it will be worth it to gain real and relevant skills and be surrounded by motivated students and supportive staff. I’m also excited to meet kids from overseas!”

A challenging intellectual experience 

Yanai points out that Israeli and Jewish teens from outside Israel study and live together in the MBHS program, unlike some other Israel-based international high school programs, where international students are isolated from Israelis. “Here, the daily reality is Israel. Students will become immersed in Israeli society and will have real-life contact with Israelis and non-Israelis alike daily,” he explains.  

Perhaps the best testimonial for the MBHS program comes from parents of students attending the program. Yaniv Dover, a member of the school's parent advisory committee whose son is currently a 10th-grade student in Boyar High school, says: “The program provides a solution for students who are looking for a more challenging intellectual experience and a broadening of their horizons. As an Israeli, I believe that programs like this, which combine local Israeli students and students from abroad in a meaningful way, are essential to the ongoing relationship between Israel and Jewish communities around the globe. I’m very satisfied with the leadership of the program. They are diligent, consistent, and attentive to the parents, students, and staff. I’m looking forward to seeing how the school grows and develops over the years.”

The MBHS International program is a joint initiative developed by the Society for Advancement of Education (SAE), which uses education to empower youth in Israel to attain distinction in their social, educational, and leadership endeavors. The SAE, founded in 1962, initiates, develops and operates educational solutions for youth in schools, boarding schools, and educational programs with the goal of shaping and creating opportunities for excellence and for helping youth realize their full educational and ethical potential. 

Eitan Moran, CEO, The Society for the Advancement of Education: “Mae Boyar High School is known for its commitment to social change and cultivating leaders in a variety of fields. We were the first in Israel to create educational opportunities for excellence by connecting students from the center and students from the periphery of the country. Now we are taking the next step by connecting between students from all over Israel and students from around the world, giving them meaningful skills and tools to cope with the challenges of tomorrow and broadening their future horizons.”

The International program is open to students entering 11th grade, and an IB preparation year class for 10th grade is also available. 

Families can learn more about the MBHS International program by visiting the program website, for more information: MBHS International

Facebook page or by contacting Kate Nachman from MBHS directly by phone or WhatsApp at +972 (52) 603 9154 or by email at [email protected].

This article was written in cooperation with MBHS International