Local educator Jennifer Saber is teaching other Jewish educators nationwide, and now a $20,000 boost for the work will be like squirting lighter fluid on a fire, she said.
“It is very, very helpful,” Saber said. “This will increase the impact that we’re making and increase the number of people with disabilities who we can support.”
Saber is the American arm of an Israel-based project that trains educators everywhere to be more inclusive when it comes to disabilities. Saber also works on education issues for Milwaukee Jewish Federation and other local institutions, but this work is for a different organization. That organization is Shutaf Inclusion Programs in Jerusalem, which won the $20,000 grant to grow and publicize its “Inclusion Guide,” which Saber, the Shutaf inclusion education coordinator for North America, helped to develop.
In her role as Shutaf inclusion education coordinator, Saber gets on the phone or on webinars with educators from Los Angeles, Atlanta and elsewhere. She helps educators and administrators work in an inclusive way with students who have disabilities.
The co-founders of Shutaf Inclusion Programs in Jerusalem are Beth Steinberg and Miriam Avraham, who are based in Israel. Steinberg and Saber are co-project directors. “This is definitely not a me effort. This is a ‘we’ effort,” Saber said.
The Inclusion Guide is a website at ShutafInclusionPrograms.org, free and accessible without a password, that has educational resources for teaching students with disabilities. For example, one video on “Welcoming New Campers” advises a home visit with two staffers when possible, so that “one staffer can play with the child while the other talks to the parents,” says one of the presenters on the video.
The Inclusion Guide also offers games for educators to play, to show how stereotypes lead to judging people too quickly. There are also articles in the Inclusion Guide, like “Disability Inclusion in Israel: What we can learn from L.A.”
All the materials are offered both in Hebrew and in English.
The $20,000 “Ignition” grant, from the Covenant Foundation, is being used to build up and promote the Inclusion Guide, Saber said. She is doing much of that work. The Inclusion Guide is for camps, religious schools, youth program professionals and so forth.
“We are constantly creating new materials and constantly working to expand our outreach based on the needs of the community,” Saber said. The grant will also support workshops, coaching sessions and professional development opportunities for organizations that choose to take advantage of the inclusion guide, she said.
“This grant was made to benefit the Jewish community of the United States, and if any organization wants to get support for the inclusion guide, I am happy to work with them,” Saber said.
Any Jewish organization can contact Jennifer@CampShutaf.org for more information.