Community Service at Grant Thornton Israel.
About “A Different Lesson” – The not-for-profit organization acts to provide equal opportunities in education and encourages significant involvement of the public in the educational system. The goals of the “A Different Lesson” are to create a bridge between citizens with various occupational backgrounds and students at schools coming from the weaker parts of the population, in order to promote these students to a place of development and growth.
As part of this voluntary work, our employees were sent out by the organization into various schools where they taught classes on different experiential topics.
One of the important objectives of our firm as part of this activity is to raise the level of self-confidence of the students, to place before them a high aspirational threshold and to serve as personal examples of successful people who overcame impediments and attained significant achievements.
This year was the second year that were sent to the "Hammer" school in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam.
From the very outset at our initial meeting with the principal and the teacher, we felt how appreciated we were by the school, how important this initiative is and how happy we were to have come to the school.
As part of this year's project, we had the privilege of getting to know the eighth grade class at the Hammer schools. The class had a student body of 19 pupils, 19 children who we found to be full of so much good!
Once a week, over a two month period, we came to the school, either one volunteer or a pair of volunteers together, to teach a class. The topics of the lessons were different and varied: Dreams, Israeli sports, the personal stories of the volunteer, the work as a value, who wants to be a billionaire, what is accounting, and a lesson on the Israel Defense Forces (which is mandatory service for 18 year old young men and women).
Each lesson was taught differently, but one thing stood out very clearly – the experience was amazing for both the pupils and for the volunteers.
The volunteers exchanged emails among them with the major theme being the amazing experience that permeated the meetings. The feelings that were expressed included the thrill, the happiness and "boy, I wouldn't have missed that for anything".
About a week ago, at our closing meeting, the pupils came to our office, accompanied by their wonderful homeroom teacher who, throughout the two month period, provided support, advice and praise of our efforts.
The pupils met up with the volunteers at the office and reminded each volunteer about the lesson he/she taught – "hey, you spoke about the IDF", "you showed us that a lesson could be different" or "where is the teacher who taught us about …?", etc.
We gave them a tour of the office and they showed amazement at things that we adults almost don't even notice. For example, they stood hypnotized when looking at one of the employees operated the report binding machine. When they came to office of Doron, the partner responsible for the entire volunteer project, they came in and felt right at home.
As part of the closing meeting, Doron spoke to the pupils about our work. They responded with questions showing interest in the work and the business trip to India that he was planning at the time. The atmosphere was very pleasant, friendly, emotional, thankful and respectful.
We gave them all certificates of completion of the course, with excellence. They certainly earned them. The pupils responded by reading an appropriate piece and thanked us sincerely.
The words that permeated the closing meeting were "thank you". Everyone gave thanks. Thanks to the chaperons, thanks to the homeroom teacher and thanks to the pupils for the very experiential and pleasurable project.
Netanel, the teacher, summed things up as follows:
"A Different Lesson" project from my standpoint and from the standpoint of the class was a rousing success. The pupils received a tremendous amount from you, whether it was about looking at life from a different vantage point or thinking about the future and making the pupils think about their desires and dreams.
The teaching staff at the school has noticed recently that there has been a marked improvement in the motivation of the class and they even made note of this at pedagogical meetings held at the school.
I am sure that the "A Different Lesson" project played a significant part in bringing about this change. All of the staff members sent by you were very talented. They succeeded in touching the pupil's hearts and in increasing their motivation to succeed.
Many thanks from the bottom of my heart."