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TEACHING TO AN EMPTY CLASS

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Walking through the halls of Boys Town Jerusalem today, the lively sound of teachers giving their lessons can be heard loud and clear from every classroom. Yet, almost eerily, every teacher is speaking to a classroom filled with empty chairs, empty desks, and not one student.

“Boys Town’s halls have been packed with pupils for over 70 years,” mused Principal Rabbi Yehudah Rosencrantz as he gazed across the silent campus. “But it’s remarkable how ‘remote learning’ has enabled us to transform classes to the virtual realm during the pandemic.”

BTJ Teachers are required to teach from school

The rabbi noted that unlike in most Israeli schools, BTJ instructors are required to teach directly from their classrooms on campus. “The academic setting remains as is, regardless of the students’ locations,” he stressed, adding that being together on campus also facilitates (masked) teachers to readily exchange ideas and insights together.

Teaching via Zoom is a challenge

From his empty second-floor classroom, veteran Hebrew-language teacher Rabbi Alon Madmony reflects upon the challenge of “Zoom.” “Give me a blackboard and I can teach,” he declares. “But like most teachers, I had no training in digital instruction and must now invent new methods. Happily, I’ve compacted the material into very concentrated lessons in which my students excel. Yet I’m really struggling to maintain the personal connection so nearly impossible via Zoom.”

Not every student has a computer

Every teacher has expressed concern for the many students who have no access to a computer at home. “Each sibling in a family needs his/her own computer to connect to the classroom,” Principal Rosencrantz explains.

Generous overseas donors have enabled us to purchase computers for scores of students, but there’s now a profound, urgent need for additional computers. Today’s massive unemployment has dealt a devastating financial blow to our boys’ families, who are barely putting food on the table. They are unable to pay any tuition fees, placing a major strain on the school’s operation. We need help to help our students in need.”

These boys need your help

Since the above update, our boys have begun returning to the school in some capacity, and scholarship assistance remains our top priority. Now more than ever, you can help a boy continue learning during this pandemic by donating here.

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