The Niot Project in a Challenging Year

Dear friends,

Flexibility has been the watchword of the Niot Project since its inception. To help teenagers who are having a hard time learning it’s absolutely necessary, as we see it, to tailor an individual intervention plan to the individual needs of each one. But it’s also necessary to make frequent alterations, because these are young people who needs change from year to year, month to month, and even week to week. In this year of the Covid-19 pandemic, this flexibility has become all the more important. The Niot Project has adapted the help it offers to a new set of circumstances in which schools and boarding facilities close and open unpredictably and in which students and teachers have had to adjust to distance learning.

Eden Israeli, the head of the Niot Project, told us this week that over the past year the Niot Project coordinators in all the schools and boarding facilities have continued to work hard to identify students who are having problems and to provide them with help. “The coordinators report that the students having trouble this year are not necessarily those who have had trouble in school before this year,” she says. “Some strong students are having trouble learning on Zoom and doing their schoolwork.” As such, art of the coordinators’ work has been to maintain close contact with both teachers and students in order to identify those who need extra personal help or work in small groups, or simply a personal conversation. “Many of them don’t want another Zoom class,” Eden says. “They want to meet face to face.” Such meetings can happen at the boarding facilities, which have reopened, but it’s more difficult at other schools, where not all grades have gone back to school yet.

These other students require other solutions. At Dror, for example, Niot Project coordinator Rachel Rosenwasser sees to it that each student receives a personal phone call at least once a week from one of the school’s teachers. At Sindiana, the Arab youth village at Givat Haviva, many students and teachers have fallen ill or had to spend considerable time in quarantine. The school has started a “young teachers” program in which top eleventh graders teach, for modest compensation or as volunteers in a social action program, this year’s new seventh graders, who have barely had any physical time in school.

Eitan Moran, the director of the Society for the Advancement of Education, has not only provided budgetary and logistical support to the principals of the schools, who he says have been working “heroically and with great acuity” but has also organized material assistance for students and their families, including the purchase of laptop computers for students who lacked them and grocery store coupons for parents who have lost their livelihoods because of the pandemic.

We are facing many more months of working in the virus’s shadow. As in every year, we ask for your help in funding this important work, inspired by our late son Niot. If you live in Israel you can make an on-line tax-deductible contribution here. Information on other ways to donate, and for full information on how to make a donation tax deductible in the United States, can be found at the bottom of this page.

Wishing you a happy and healthy new year,

Ilana and Haim Watzman