We began with the following understandings:
- “All education is local”
BASIS involved 11 schools, comprising 12 campuses. Among these are community schools, Modern Orthodox schools, a Solomon Schechter school, 10 primary schools, nine middle schools, and two high schools.
Each school has their own educational philosophy, their own orientation with respect to Jewish studies, and their own unique stakeholder community.
We believed that an effort to force diverse schools to conform to a single approach to Israel education would fail. At the same time, developing 11 independent Israel education programs would be prohibitively expensive and conflict with other (communal) objectives. Thus, we strove to find commonalities among the schools, while supporting to the degree possible the differences among them in their orientations toward Israel education.
We encouraged each school to articulate their own vision of excellence in Israel education. And we saw the long-term value in investing in school-based mechanisms to support and sustain high-quality Israel education.
- We need school community buy-in
We understood that day schools are complex communities with multiple stakeholders. We strove to support an organizational approach that would achieve community-wide buy-in to a rigorous Israel education agenda. Stakeholders include: Teachers, administrators, Board, parents, donors, and students.
- Multiple participants
BASIS targeted multiple related audiences: Students, educators, families, the school community, and the greater Northern California community. Thoughtful consideration of these multiple groups can create a virtuous cycle of reinforcing educating agents.
- Curricular and Professional Development are Symbiotic
We observed a rich set of interrelated opportunities for improvement:
- The need for enhanced and updated curricular content;
- The need for subject matter mastery among educators;
- The value of sound pedagogical approach in teaching, in curriculum development, and in evaluation.
- Excellent Israel education requires a sound approach to pedagogy, necessitating professional development among educators. Curriculum isonly as effective as the knowledge and skills of the teachers who implement it.
- Communal Scaffolding
To support an initiative among eleven schools, the project invested in a central infrastructure of support. This infrastructure provided several key benefits:
- Leadership and vision;
- A team of experts and trusted advisors to be shared by the eleven schools;
- Value-added networking among the educators across the schools.
These contributed to our core approaches:
- Establish and articulate a school vision;
- Formalize and institutionalize spiraled Israel curriculum;
- Develop teacher knowledge and skills in content and pedagogy;
- Implement creative and dynamic Israel education strategies;
- Create a networked community of Israel educators;
- Establish a community infrastructure to provide a scaffolding of leadership and support to the schools.