Adapting to a New Year
Updated: Dec 30, 2020
We find ourselves in a very different place today than where we were nearly a year ago. We have learned a lot about something we’d never heard of before, the Coronavirus. We’ve also learned a lot about our own creativity, our limitations, and our values. And we're not quite done yet. While we look forward to the end of this pandemic and its disruptiveness in our lives, we’re unsure of exactly when that will be.
The bulk of our work includes interacting with students and the schools they attend. This has been challenging as the Coronavirus has disrupted much of what was familiar in our lives. We continue to stay in touch with all of our students, by phone and social media, to find out how the Coronavirus has impacted on their lives, and how we can help guide them through this period of change and upheaval.
Our vision at DROR continues to include our four core values – academic excellence, physical education, contributing to the world, and socialization. All of these goals will require a different approach for the coming year, as we navigate the pandemic's constant fluctuations and prioritize safety among the members of our DROR family.
First and foremost, we see our young women’s primary role at this point in life as students. After attending school for less than two weeks, Israel entered its second lockdown, primarily over the Jewish holiday period. After that period ended schools remained closed, and the decision was made to only allow middle and high school students to return to their classrooms when the number of positive cases significantly dropped. That was difficult for many of our students, as this would mean at least half the year would take place only through distance learning.
Our goal is to boost our services for the coming year by means of additional days of tutoring and academic preparedness, in much smaller groups. We believe that this combination of increased academic preparedness in smaller groups will help our students to make up for lost time and ultimately will help to bring about a stronger, increasingly positive impact on their accomplishments and future. We would also like to focus on broadening our students’ horizons by offering them enrichment classes, such as photography, writing, and current events. This is in addition to our monthly social events, volunteering initiatives, and sports training that we believe help shape and nurture our students. While we are uncertain regarding the status of the 2021 Jerusalem Marathon, we would like to allow our students the opportunity to train for and participate in a sporting event, perhaps on a smaller scale.
We would also like to provide our young women with opportunities for helping others and fulfilling their community service requirement for school. After much consideration, the majority of our students will be serving as online tutors and big sisters for pre-school and elementary school-aged children. We plan on meeting once every other week and working on leadership training workshops, led by our new Program Director, Noa Reznikov.
This year's big celebration was opening up our first student center at the Atid Shachar Ulpana (middle and high school) in Bet Shemesh. We decided to focus our efforts primarily on the students from this school. As well, we've been blessed to receive a classroom of our own. We’ve set up an area for learning, with tables and chairs, as well as a corner that’s been set up with couches, games, and books, to serve as a space for the students to feel at home and bond in a relaxed environment.
Our first full week of in-person programming in our new classroom kicked off around the Chanukah holiday, as the students were able to take some time off from the flow of academic learning. The young women decorated Menorahs for themselves as well as for their elderly relatives, to highlight the importance of perpetuating one’s light and sharing it with others.
We’re so excited to embark on this new journey and develop a close relationship with our students. The young women are learning a lot about themselves, making strides on a personal level, and connecting with their peers. We pray for a continued safe and healthy year and hope to continue to provide our students with a stable, growth-oriented environment.