Gaza's Second Learning Communities Conference for the Model Schools Network (MSN) Program was held at the ARCH Med Hotel in Gaza City on June 30. 2011. It was attended by 143 educators from 12 private MSN Schools, as well as guests from education-based organizations in Gaza. Twenty-four presentations by teachers in the subjects of math, science, English and technology took place in the four halls of the conference facility.
A great leadership is the key element behind any success; a leader is that person whom everyone looks up to and trusts his/her judgment. Model Schools Network (MSN) Program funded by USAID and implemented by AMIDEAST believes that in order to accomplish the ultimate goal leaders are needed to leap and lead, people that could ask for your trust one time but not to ask for it again, individuals with leadership characteristics, strong personality and a confidence that can’t be underrated.
It was by coincidence that Shaima' and Rula Hamad, 10th graders, came to the principal's office and asked if they could use the computer lab during an MSN visit to the Al Tereh Girls Secondary School. The MSN team could not but notice the sparkle of passion these two students had in their eyes. The principal, Ms. Abeer Badran, commented: "They are working on research on Palestinian culinary history. They use the computer lab in their free time to compile all the information they gather."
Mrs. Abeer Badran, principal of Al Teereh Secondary Girls’ School, has found a unique and creative way to unleash the students’ imagination, unlock their potential and improve their skills in math and science by creating an exciting and interactive learning environment. The story started with a neglected ground floor storage room, utilized only as a repository for old, unused materials. Mrs. Abeer envisioned a future for that space and decided, with the help of her teachers, to turn it into a math and science club by using the equipment donated by USAID through the Model Schools Network (MSN). This would enable students to explore a new kind of learning experience.
STATEMENT OF WORK
Launched in 2007, the Model Schools Network (MSN) Program is a USAID-funded initiative that aims to build institutional capacity in the Palestinian school system. The MSN Program is focused on developing a school improvement network that will serve as a model for basic education in Palestine. Its initial phase supported 17 private schools in the West Bank between June 2008 and December 2012. The focus of this support was in four program areas:
1) Teacher and administrator professional development;
Ramallah, 9, September 2009
Although Najwa Kreitem is a successful educator with more than 20 years of teaching experience, she decided to in invest her time in a rigorous professional development program as part of her school’s participation in the Model Schools Network (MSN) Program. Kreitem, an English teacher at the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope in the West Bank city of Ramallah was interested in expanding her educational skill set through professional development. Professional development is just one of the five core components of the MSN Program.
Launched in 2007, the MSN Program is funded by the Unites States Agency for International Development (USAID). It is implemented by AMIDEAST in cooperation with Palestinian Ministry of Education & Higher Education and other educational institutions.
The MSN Program objectives include: introducing educational concepts, teaching approaches, techniques and resources that will improve student learning; developing an expanding network of public and private schools that embrace a new approach to teaching and learning; and evaluating results for future replication. The MSN program included an initial 17 private Palestinian schools. Another 40 public schools are now in the beginning stages of entry into the program.
Ramallah 2, December 2009
Second grade students of Hebron’s Al-Azhar School gathered around Dima Halawane, coordinator of Al-Quds University Science Museum in Abu Dis. The students listened intently as she told them a fascinating story that illustrated the properties of a magnet. Following the story, students eagerly experimented with magnetic attraction using concepts gleaned from Halawane’s story. The enthusiasm for the activities was strong and energy was in the air.
Halawane said that she tries to deliver the idea of magnetic properties through storytelling in order for young students to absorb scientific information in an unexpected and appealing way.
Rana Zughayer, teacher at Al-Azhar School who accompanied the students, said that she noticed how interested and engaged students were during the museum visit.
Student Obadah Al-Karaky, age 7, expressed his appreciation for the visit, as he and his classmates had the opportunity to explore scientific ideas. His classmate Wa’d Tahboob, age 7, noted that the magnet story was her favorite part of the trip to the Science Museum.
Al-Azhar School is one of 57 public and private schools participating in the Model Schools Network (MSN) program. The MSN program is implemented by AMIDEAST and funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The first-ever student debate tournament was held at the Talitha Kumi Secondary School in Beit Jala yesterday. The tournament was sponsored by the Model Schools Network Project, a USAID-funded school improvement project administered by AMIDEAST. Sixty-six students from ten schools engaged in the tournament.
The tournament was titled “2010 Debates” and was held in coordination with the Open Society Institute which provided training to the debate team supervisors. Developing students’ abilities in research and analysis, as well as learning the skills in defending one’s viewpoint in a formal debate setting were two goals of the activity.
Two controversial issues were presented for debate: preventing early marriage and prohibiting mobile phones in schools. Students split into teams that either supported or opposed the issues. They prepared their arguments for the debate based on their prior research. The student teams showed a great amount of enthusiasm for the activity. The tournament was judged by a panel of trained teachers and experts in debates.
Malek Abu Arram, a student at the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope, mentioned how much he enjoyed participating in the activity. He said he learned debate skills that would help in daily life. He felt more confident about his ability to present his opinions to a crowd.
The Model Schools Network (MSN) concluded its photography club component today at a ceremony at the Youth Development Resource Centre (YDRC) in Ramallah. The ceremony included an exhibition of the photos taken by 45 students who participated in the photography club activity.
The MSN Program, a USAID-funded school improvement project administered by AMIDEAST in partnership with the MOEHE, organized the photography club in cooperation with the YDRC and RUWWAD, the USAID-funded youth empowerment project. RUWWAD provided trainers and materials for schools participating in the activity. Three schools from the MSN Program were involved: the Arab Evangelical Episcopal School, the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope, and Al-Awa’el Schools.
Mr. Mohammed Salim, a former member of the YDRC board of directors, welcomed the audience and presented an opening speech. He expressed gratitude to the organizations who contributed to the success of the photography club activity, as well as to the school principals who worked with AMIDEAST and RUWWAD in implementing the activity. Mr. Salim spoke of the importance of the art of photography and his personal experience as a photographer. He encouraged students to “hold their cameras wherever they go.” Additionally, he cited the need for future cooperation between schools and organizations in order to support extracurricular activities.
The Model School Network (MSN) program held an award ceremony and luncheon today to acknowledge the work of the 40 volunteers from Al-Quds University who facilitated visits to the Science and Museums by students from participating MSN schools. The volunteers played a significant role in the success of these visits by guiding and providing explanation of exhibits.
MSN is a USAID-funded school improvement project administered by AMIDEAST in partnership with the Ministry of Education. The project involves 57 public and private schools in the West Bank. Extracurricular and enrichment activities, such as visits to the Al-Quds University Math and Science Museums, are important parts of the project.
The award ceremony began with a welcome speech by Dr. Chris Shinn, the Chief of Party of the MSN program. Dr. Shinn expressed his gratitude to the volunteers for their efforts and emphasized the positive impact these visits had on the students. He mentioned that student evaluations following the visits were positive and that students had gained knowledge. Dr. Shinn noted that an additional evaluation process was underway for volunteers and supervisors to offer suggestions to improve the program for future visits by participating schools.
Museum volunteers and supervisors thanked AMIDEAST for the opportunity to work with the MSN program. They cited the many positive aspects for all who were involved in the student visits.