Ulpanat Bnei Akiva Orot Modi'in Wins Prestigious Education Prize
n June, Orot Modi'in, YBA's high school for girls in Modi'in was awarded The Education Prize for 5777, the most prestigious award given by the Ministry of Education. Orot Modi'in was one of five high schools from across the State of Israel-and the only religious school- to receive this recognition. The Education Prize, which was presented at a special ceremony by Minister of Education Naftali Bennet, recognized the Ulpana for excellence in education, diversity in course offerings-ranging from sciences and humanities to film and communication-and diversity in pedagogical methodologies. Head of school, Rabbi Asher Kursiya explained the philosophy that has led the school to this outstanding achievement: "We have a very well known approach- the approach of Bnei Akiva, of Torah im Derech Eretz [the integration of Torah and general studies], love of the Land of Israel and the People of Israel, based upon the Torah of Israel." He also noted the school's policy of accepting any student who wishes to learn and abide by the spirit of the Ulpana. Located in the rapidly growing city of Modi'in, the girls' high school currently has 720 students, including a track for advanced students and classes for students requiring extra support. The Ulpana was founded, along with a parallel boys' high school, in 1999 by Rabbi Kursiya, at the initiative of YBA Chairman HaRav Chaim Druckman, who wanted to create a strong Religious-Zionist educational presence in the then-fledgling city of Modi'in. Since that time, the growth of the YBA institutions has paralleled the remarkable growth of the city, and they have become recognized, both by residents of Modi'in as well as by the commissions that grant awards, as top educational institutions in a city that has many to offer.
Long-Time Math Teacher Recognized as "Teacher of the State"
Eli Kuper, who has taught math at YBA Givat Shmuel Boys' High School and the YBA girls' high school Ulpanat Tzfira was recognized as one of the "Teachers of the State" by the Ministry of Education. The award was conferred at a special ceremony by Minister of Education Naftali Bennet with the participation of President Reuven Rivlin, upon teachers who exemplify excellence and accomplishment. Kuper was one of seven awardees, chosen from thousands of submissions and eighteen semi-finalists. Over the course of his 43 years in education, Kuper has taught 7500 students and prepared them for the matriculation exams, and numerous of his current students are the children of previous ones. Why was he chosen for this prestigious award? Here are some remarkable facts about this outstanding educator: Eli Kuper states that he knows that mathematics is not a simple subject, and that many students are fearful or confused by it. How does he alleviate that fear? "I establish good relationships with my students. I have never punished a student, never sent anyone out of class, I do not give pop-quizzes or force students to solve a problem on the board in front of the class." Before major exams he visits groups of students in their homes to give them any necessary assistance. This past year, before a major exam he visited four towns in one night to meet with students and make sure that they were truly prepared. Perhaps most remarkably, for all 43 years of his teaching, Kuper has never missed a day of class. "I have three sons. The first was born during summer vacation, the second was born on a Friday and the third on Shabbat, so that even their Brit did not conflict with class," he says with a grin. What of sick days? "Nothing makes me feel better than standing in front of a class. My students give me strength."