Inbal Sivan, a homeroom (11th grade) and Bible teacher at the Shoshanim Arts and Science High School for Haredi Girls in Jerusalem, was recently named Educator of the Week by Beta Educators, the Jerusalem Education Authority’s innovation unit.
Shoshanim, founded by the Society for Advancement of Education in 2019, is the first four-year high school in Israel for Haredi girls focused on science and the arts, with studies leading to a full matriculation certificate.
In response to this special recognition, Inbal spoke about her background and educational philosophy:
“After studying for a bachelor’s degree in education and sociology, I worked as a homeroom teacher for a number of years. As one who loves to learn and develop, I continued to study towards a master’s degree in psychodrama. Falling in love with this therapeutic “tool” led me to change my career path from education to emotional therapy through psychodrama.
“After several years working for the Ezer Mizion organization and with adolescents and youth at risk, I heard about the establishment of a high school for ultra-orthodox girls, the first of its kind, focusing on arts and sciences and combining religious studies and working towards full, high-quality matriculation.
“The school’s unique vision led me to join its founding team and to return to working as an educator, out of a sense of mission, that working in such a framework would enable me to instill my values, attitudes, and the religious and intellectual outlook in which I believe.
“In a world of available knowledge, the added value of a lesson is the opportunity for shared discussion. Particularly in Bible studies, which is a subject that students learn as something dry, outdated, and sometimes even threatening, my challenge as a teacher is to make the Bible relevant and to enable students to identify with the content it raises.
“It’s not enough that the student comes from an ultra-orthodox family. She asks and ponders, she wants to understand, and that’s why I’m there! It’s a smart generation. And only a teacher who really loves their subject and believes in it, with commitment and hard work on lesson preparation, will be able to touch the students’ souls and awaken a deep desire and the self-motivation that will enable them to understand and internalize the material that is taught. In my case, it is the religious studies, which are the essence of our lives and the basis of our values.
“I believe that, in this generation, what students need is not (only) knowledge, but mostly personal attention from those who truly see and understand them. Each of us (I hope), has at least one teacher that made their mark on our heart. Every teacher should strive to be that teacher.”