The Morim (High School Master Educators) Project
Established in 2010, SOS International is a 501(c) (3) not for profit. In 2016, the mission of SOS International was significantly expanded so that the High School Morim Project is reflective of SOS International being a global education connector providing Jewish Day School High School educators dynamic, innovative and experiential peer-to-peer professional development opportunities; inter-disciplinary curriculum creation with content that provides for multiple intelligences and an enduring understanding of the subject area; and the establishment of specific concrete strategies for the implementation of excellence in teaching as a process not as an endpoint.
With 81,108 students registered in 306 American Jewish Day Schools, every Jewish Day School should be engaging in intensive introspection by asking important and serious questions. What is the purpose of a Jewish Day School education? What does it mean for a school to be excellent? What are the pathways and structures for Jewish Day Schools to achieve excellence? How can Jewish Day Schools scale up excellence? How can Jewish Day Schools cultivate a teaching environment which provides a positive school culture, climate and working conditions to foster achieving academic excellence?
Teachers cannot advance their pursuit of excellence unless they are stimulated and challenged by new learning. In Improving Schools from Within, Roland Barth writes “Nothing within a school has more impact upon students in terms of skills development, self-confidence, or classroom behavior than the personal and professional growth of teachers. When teachers examine, question, reflect on their ideas and develop new practices that lead towards their ideas, students are alive. When teachers stop growing, so do their students.” In a recent blog entitled “Highly Effective Teachers Are Never Done Learning” Liam Goldrick, Director of Policy At New Teacher Center writes “There is no such thing as a finished product when it comes to highly effective teachers. Talented, experienced teachers are reflective, curious and persistent. Like their students, they are learners too.” Excellence in teaching does not occur in a vacuum and therefore teachers must be provided dedicated time and space for professional development that is outside of the traditional school culture and provides stimulating, engaging opportunities for curricular experimentation and a roadmap for setting new goals for growth.
Participating in the SOS International High School Morim Project for the 2016-2017 academic school year, four (4) American Jewish Day Schools are partnered for five years with two (2) Hungarian Jewish Day Schools. The SOS International High School Morim Project provides an extraordinarily unique environment for intensive bilateral, binational mentoring and peer coaching to develop and nurture reflective, problem-solving, collaborative habits of practice which are essential for fostering teacher growth and development and thereby advance and enhance curricular excellence.
For seven (7) days each academic school for five (5) years, a multi-disciplinary team of 7-8 Master Educators from each participating Jewish Day School teach in their respective partner Jewish Day School. In conjunction with their partner colleague, each binational partner colleague team presents a subject area signature lesson or project that is outside of the standard curriculum. The subject area signature lesson/project designed by partner colleagues is created and developed through ongoing skype, facetime, email, and telephone communication.
Central to the High School Morim Project signature lessons/projects is the search for direct or indirect pedagogic methods and subject area content which have particular benefit and relevance to a student’s life while simultaneously enhancing and advancing curricular excellence in a Jewish Day School. In addition to teaching, observing and meetings within the partner school, teachers are formally and informally taught about the culture, history and current events of the country where the partner school exists and where teachers and students live.
The beneficial result of this atypical joint professional development experience is a multi-dimensional catalytic agent for: deepening the educator’s sense of purpose and commitment; personal and professional growth and development; fostering powerful personal and professional opportunities; expanded cultural and professional linkages; broadening subject area scope and relevance with the creation of imaginative cross cultural and interdisciplinary enrichment lessons; bilateral significant improvement in the delivery of educational services through a cohort environment; strengthening Jewish identity for adults and students; active participation in Jewish community renewal; and Jewish leadership development for the next generation.
After completing each phase of the High School Morim Project, American and Hungarian administrators, Morim Project Team Master Educators and their students complete a standardized evaluation. Their responses to the evaluations are used to compile a summary evaluation from which decisions are made about the High School Morim Project. In the continuing effort to seek academic excellence coupled with meaningful and impactful experiences, the evaluations are an invaluable resource.
Beginning the summer of 2017 and every summer thereafter, High School Morim Project Administrators and Master Educators will be participating in a three day Global Professional Development Conference. Workshop leaders are Jewish Communal Professionals whose expertise is distinguished in respective academic disciplines. Building on the successful learning during the annual Morim Project Global Professional Development Conference, mentoring and peer-to-peer networking will take place with monthly webinars, in person meetings and skype/facetime interactive communication.
Currently four (4) American Jewish Day Schools (Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, Pikesville, Maryland; Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Rockville, Maryland; de Toledo High School, West Hills, California; and the Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School, Livingston, New Jersey) and two (2) Hungarian Jewish Day Schools (Lauder Javne Community School, Budapest, Hungary; and the Scheiber Sandor Gimnazium, Budapest, Hungary) are participating in the both the Morim and Limmud Projects. During the 2017-2018 academic school year, two American Jewish Day Schools plus one Greek and one Polish Jewish Day School will be added.
The 2016-2017 High School Morim Project Schedule
- November 13-20, 2016: CESJDS, Rockville, Maryland and the Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School, Livingston, New Jersey, seven (7) Master Educators partnered with the Lauder Javne Jewish Community School, Budapest, Hungary.
- February 12-19: Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, Pikesville, Maryland, seven (7) Master Educators partnered with the Scheiber Sandor Gimnazium, Budapest, Hungary.
- March 19-26: de Toledo High School seven (7) Master Educators partnered with the Lauder Javne Jewish Community School, Budapest, Hungary.
- April 23-30: Lauder Javne Jewish Community School, Budapest, Hungary six (6) Master Educators came to the United States to their primary partner school Charles E Smith Jewish Day School, Rockville, Maryland.
- August, 2017: Annual Global Professional Development Conference
2017-2018 Morim and Limmud Projects Current Schedule
- November 12-19, seven (7) Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School Master Educators, Rockville, Maryland and selected High School students return to the Lauder Javne Jewish Community School to implement both the High School Morim and Student Limmud Projects.
- January 14-21, eight (8) Lauder Javne Jewish Community School Master Educators will come to their west coast partner school, de Toledo High School, West Hills, California.
- February 4-11, seven (7) Scheiber Sandor Gimnazium Master Educators from Budapest, Hungary will teach at their partner Jewish Day School, Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, Pikesville, Maryland.
- April 22-29, seven (7) de Toledo High School Master Educators and selected High School students return to the Lauder Javne Jewish Community School, Budapest, Hungary to implement both the High School Morim and Student Limmud Projects.
- August, 2018: Annual Global Professional Development Conference