Maxine Weil, Senior Educational Program Director for Central Agency for Jewish Education (CAJE) recently returned from a 10 day trip in Israel on a very special mission. However, the idea for her trip began last year when Dr. Dalia Fadila, Founder of Q Schools and President of Al-Qasemi College, came to St. Louis to speak to the community about her educational program. During this visit, Dr. Fadila met Terry Bloomberg, an active Federation lay leader and Director of Development Child Care (DCC). She told Terry about the Q School program which serves 1st grade through 12th grade students. While the program was impressive, Terry felt that in order to make a true difference, the lessons needed to begin in early childhood. Dr. Fadila had always considered opening a preschool, but her conversation with Terry was the impetus she needed to make it happen sooner.
The Q Preschool Experience Pilot program is a bilingual Arabic-English program that was started Fall 2014 in the Israeli-Arab town of Tira. The vision for the school is based upon a philosophy that if children at an early age learn English and have a bilingual curriculum in a preschool environment, they are empowered to make choices and learn values that could change their lives and in the long term encourage towards dialogue to achieve peace.
Because of the connection between Dr. Fadila and St. Louis, Maxine Weil and Alyssa Person, a former long term teacher at DCC, were selected to go to Israel and work at the Q Preschool for a week with the faculty. Maxine and Alyssa were welcomed graciously to Tira and received much appreciation from the community that they would travel the distance to provide support for their teachers and children.
Maxine and Alyssa spent several days facilitating professional development through teacher workshops and hands-on role modeling. They did activities with the children, showed how to utilize the classroom space and encouraged different modalities of how to teach the children. Additionally, Maxine and Alyssa facilitated a parent meeting to share with parents commonalities and talk with them about the difference they were making in their child’s lives by putting them in this unique program.
Alyssa Person was so touched by the experience, she chose to extend her stay in Tira and continue her work with the Q Preschool. Maxine has returned back to St. Louis, but the impact and the relationships she developed with these students, parents, teachers and community will continue to show for generations to come.