Yearly Educational Theme - Keren Hayeled

Yearly Educational Theme

A central aspect of our educational approach at Keren Hayeled involves a yearly educational theme. This is a theme of important educational value which is integrated into the children’s yearly schedule, programs, and activities which all reinforce the yearly theme in various and complimentary ways. The themes rotate from year to year such that throughout a student’s years at Keren Hayeled, he or she acquires a wide range of essential skills and tools in the realm of self-awareness and realization which will ensure their healthy integration into society and success in all areas of adult life.

The purpose of such a year-long educational theme is manifold. It creates a comprehensible outline which helps a young person define expectations for growth, a tangible framework within which to grow, attainable goals toward which to aspire over a significant amount of time which fosters continuity and consistency in self-improvement. And the fact that this occurs through the duration of the school and calendar year, while the student naturally matures, also ensures that this process of self-realization will be engaging, multi-faceted and dynamic.

One of the ways in which a yearly theme can achieve this is by integrating it into the educational programming surrounding the Jewish year and cycle of holidays whereby the quality of each month and message of each holiday can contribute a variable and unique facet to the overall yearly educational theme. This is one of the elements illustrated in the following example of a yearly theme developed at Keren Hayeled. It contains both an introduction to the spirit behind the overall theme as well as an outline to the way the theme is practically implemented throughout the year. It is our hope that this example will help others in our field to develop similar models to improve their own programs.

Taking Advantage of Opportunities:

This moment will never return.

Purpose:

To develop an understanding that each moment in our lives is fleeting, in order to internalize the need to make the right choices and decisions.

Underlying message to and for the student:

If we understand that we will not live forever, that the moments of our lives can be missed, we will realize that it is worthwhile to make careful choices, because there is no second chance.

If I don’t take advantage of my childhood, it will never return. I will never be in 9th grade again.

True, I feel that the conditions of life are difficult for me and that the journey is hard. But wouldn’t it be a shame to lose this month? This year? The opportunity to experience this period in the best way possible, and make the most out of myself?

Example of how to use a Jewish source as a basis for, and to illustrate, the theme:

If I am not for myself, who am I? – The choice is mine, and I can choose the best.

If I am only for myself, what am I? – My choices must also consider how they affect others.

If not now, when? – The time for making the right decisions is now; this moment will never return!

Yearly schedule and activity planning:

  • Cheshvan, 1st half – Commencement of an activity that conveys the difference between wasting opportunities as opposed to taking advantage of them to the fullest, highlighting people who have reached the top because they have seized the opportunity.
  • Cheshvan, 2nd half – Preparation for the senior girls Gala Event involving rehearsals and choir singing. The evening showcases graduates who have chosen to advance themselves and take full advantage of life’s “once in a lifetime” opportunities.
  • Kislev – Commencement of an educational competition between two groups revolving around two facets of “Taking advantage of opportunities”.
  • Tevet, Shevat – Commencement of activities delivered by the counselors. This focuses on five significant issues regarding seizing opportunity:
    1. Embitterment vs. Contentment: Maintaining a positive outlook motivates me to seize opportunities.
    2. Belief and “Hashgacha pratit”: This is my divinely-ordained life plan and accepting this lovingly liberates me to seize life’s opportunities.
    3. Recognizing Strengths: Believing in myself empowers me to do something great with myself.
    4. Proactivity vs. Passivity: I will not sit still and wait for others to do for me, give me, educate me, and take care of me. I have the ability to do for myself. No one will promote me unless I promote my own improvement.
    5. Receptiveness: I can free myself to be a receptacle for substance, education and training, so that I can become a bigger, better, and more meaningful person.
  • Shevat (throughout) – Group parents’ days hosting symposiums emphasizing seizing opportunities from the perspective of parents of boarding school students.
  • Shevat – Mid-year Tu b’Shevat event in which the students of the various extra-curricular courses showcase their youthful and growing talents and achievements.
  • Adar/Purim – Commencement of the theme of “costumes and opportunity”: Unmasking false perceptions and revealing the inner me and disclosing my hidden potential. Purim Party.
  • Iyar – “If I am only for myself, what am I”: While seizing opportunities for myself, I must also consider the wants and needs of others – proper conduct between Man and Man. This is particularly so regarding one’s parents. Therefore, in group evenings for the students and mothers, the girls share with their mothers what they’ve learned about the yearly theme throughout the activities of the year. In order to enable the mothers to experience this first-hand, a social worker and the group’s counselor guide a therapeutic mother-daughter activity based on the yearly theme.
  • Sivan – Preparations and rehearsals for the year-end, 12th grade graduation ceremony. The event emphasizes how the graduates, who have been at Keren Hayeled for many years, took advantage of the experience, internalized it, and implemented it into their lives in ways which will propel them forward. And this serves as an example for the younger girls, who view them with admiration and will be inspired to graduate like them: Strong, stable and self-confident.
  • Tammuz/Av – Summer Camp with a variety of educational and recreational activities which further develop and enrich the yearly theme of seizing opportunities.