NO. OF STUDENTS: 171
GRADES: 1st through 6th grades
LOCATION: Misgav region
The Galilee School, one of Hand in Hand's two original campuses (along with the Jerusalem school), was founded in 1998. In 2014, with a new principal, the school began an innovative project-based learning cuuriculum.
The Galilee is a large, sparsely populated, mountainous region in northern Israel. Three Arab towns and numerous smaller Jewish communities feed the school, located next to the Arab town of Sakhnin on land owned by the Jewish kibbutz Eshbal. The area enjoys more of a tradition of Jewish coexistence than some of Israel's other regions; still, there are relatively few opportunities for Jewish and Arab citizens to meaningfully interact outside of their daily commutes. This was especially true for children, before the Hand in Hand campus opened.
The site was chosen when a critical mass of parents was courageous enough to pioneer the risky project. Eldad Garfunkel, whose son attended the original first-grade class, remembers late-night planning sessions in Sakhnin. "We held so many meetings and parent workshops that would prepare us for what might happen on the first day of school," Garfunkel recalls. "But the children blended so naturally that we realized we were the problem, not them."
Pedogogical innovation in the Galilee School
In order to make students more active learners and increase their motivation, the school is introducing a major pedagogical change in teaching methodology in the 2014-15 school year. Teachers have been receiving special training in the use of Project Based Learning (PBL). Students learn to conduct research, write, conduct interviews, make presentations, and produce work that integrates multiple academic subjects. Literature, art and technology are being integrated into a new “Augmented Book Project”, the students are learning about sustainable living and the environment in the new greenhouse, and they are raising awareness for people with disabilites through games and posters. Read more about this educational innovation here.
Galilee History and Conflict
The region is not without its political tensions. With its Arab majority, it's the target of government initiatives to increase Jewish settlement. Tensions flare each March around "Land Day," a commemoration of six Israeli Arabs killed in 1976 following protests against government land appropriation. Three of them were from Sakhnin.
The most recent violence occurred in October 2000, when 13 Israeli-Arab demonstrators were killed in a clash with police. Consultants were called in to help the Hand in Hand staff work through their raw feelings, questioning and sorrow. Parents transported their children to school through police barricades and despite the admonishments of their neighbors. No one knew if the school would continue. But it survived and thrived, playing a major role in bringing the Jews and Arabs of the region back together. The school has developed powerful name recognition and clout in the region as a peace-builder.
What's news in the Galilee?
Project Based Learning, Agumented Book Project , Fall Semester 2014