Kochav Yair Tzur Yigal – Education and Community for a Common Good

Friday morning, it is spring time, and the air is filled with the smell the blossoming nature. A path in a forest was created entirely by students from one of the schools in the area and now these students guide visitors to the unique flora that exists along the path. Adults listen to young students who introduce the flowers they see along the path. The adults ask questions and the young students answer. Suddenly, the possibility of role reversal, of knowledge that is in the hands of all of us, of connecting people to the environment, seems possible and beneficial.

Friday morning. Six groups of about 20 people – parents and staff members, meet at one of the schools in the area. Each group sit in a circle and talk openly to each other, about each other, with each other. All the participants are listening to each other, are open to meet and talk – creating the possibility for change and closeness.

Two stories can illustrate the direction of the strategic plan.

Kochav Yair – Tsur Yigal are two neighborhoods that are compose one small settlement, located in the heart of a green and flowering environment. Together they established a quality, caring community, with environmental and human wealth. It is a diverse community: religious and secular residents that share a communal narrative.

The local authority invited the Institute to answer the need of close collaboration between the various groups within the community, as well as between the professional educational community and the residents. In the first stage, a process of mapping was conducted. The preparation of the strategic plan took six months. It was based on participation – creating a space of influence and opportunity to express the challenges, needs and ideas, a space that will enable dialogue between all those invested in the community, a space in which the community’s educational and organizational challenges can be identified. In other words it was an attempt to create a platform for dreaming – thinking of a future that is based on a shared vision of a desirable future aspired to by the participants.

The strategic plan and the leading principles were derived from the strategic mapping.

What is the direction we wish to follow?

A focus on participation, choice, initiatives, community – school interface, connecting to a human and physical environment, focusing on communication that promotes positive relationships among all members of the community, action arising from personal, organizational and communal strengths, personal visibility and personal expression, 21st Century pedagogy, sustainability.

We have been implementing the program since 2017.

What do we do?

The basis is to work with the educational and community leaders, such as the head of the local authority that leads the way, the director of the education department that implements the practice, director of the youth department, schools principals, etc. They are the ones leading the way. We try to establish awareness and a shared language, create a culture of connections, collaborations, bridges that connect islands to continents, foster a respectful culture of dialogue between different groups in the community and between the community and the officials to enable a connection between formal and is informal education.

Our activities

An educational week aimed to create a collaborative experience of parents and staff from which a space for experimentation, reflection and learning that is based on the locality of the place and community. “A different Sunday”, where students from the local schools meet with each other and study together in mixed groups. In addition, we act to promote teachers’ entrepreneurship that relate to connecting learning activities to the local space and local community, and establish an informal education program that is aimed to connect youth movements towards collaborative action. Additional activities are aimed to establish a youth parliament to create influence within the community, form study groups for education staff members that learn together and inspire each other, and foster a flexible approach to challenges. All these activities involve position holders in the community that act and implement informed participatory processes.

This path offers the community of Kochav Yair many advantages as it connects people to each other and to their place of living, and together we continue to dream, act and inspire.