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EXCEL Level II Session in Nazareth

In late January, 18 Israeli Arab and Jewish high school educators braved the rain and national tensions to gather at St. Joseph’s Guest House in Nazareth for a weekend of learning, challenge, and much needed camaraderie. They are all part of the JPB – Retorika EXCEL Teacher-Training Institute which was offering the second level course to its third cohort of teachers. Launched in 2019, EXCEL is an cyclical experiential teacher-training program that unites, resources, and motivates competitively selected Israeli High School educators for the purpose of empowering teachers and students to advance educational reform and strengthen Israeli democracy by addressing inequalities and communal traumas dividing Israel’s Jewish and Arab populations.

Retorika Director, Dr. Elias Farah and JPB Senior Educator, Sarah Benazera both led the weekend of workshops. The Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Druze educators were eager to talk about challenging topics and enjoyed exploring storytelling tools for the classroom and human rights through literature. Participation in the weekend is critical for acceptance into EXCEL Level III held at Cambridge University in England each July. It also provides an essential boost as they actively working on develop their own activities for the upcoming meetings between their Arab and Jewish schools.

“They were eager to be together and continue their story, especially in times of tension. This group of teachers did amazing work in terms of trust-building and community-building,” reports Sarah. Dr. Elias remarked, “To change students in Israel, we must first change the teachers. EXCEL does just that - they are excited about designing co-programming between their schools and about participating in Excel III in Cambridge.”


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