Our Story

Second chance students graduate with flying colours >
< All systems gold for ORT Argentina maths supremo
05 Aug 2010 02:00 Age: 7 yrs
Category: News Update, Our Stories

ORT SA teacher joins Google’s international elite

An ORT South Africa educator has joined the rarefied ranks of Google Certified Teachers.   Ariellah Rosenberg, Head of Educator Empowerment at ORT SA, was one of just 49 teachers from around the world – and the only one from South Africa – who was invited to participate in last week’s Google Teachers Academy (GTA) in England, the first to be held outside the United States of America.


Ariellah Rosenberg, Head of Educator Empowerment at ORT SA

Together with peers from the UK, USA, Switzerland, Holland, Singapore, Israel and Egypt, Ms Rosenberg benefited from hands-on experience with Google’s free products and other technologies, learned about innovative instructional strategies, and received resources to share with colleagues.

“I am no newcomer to Internet technology but I was surprised by how many functions Google has which are potentially of immense use to teachers,” Ms Rosenberg said after completing the intensive one-day seminar. “I’m looking forward to incorporating applications from Google into many of our projects including the leadership and responsibility programme which we are bringing to schools in South Africa.”

The use of these applications, including Google docs, which allows individuals around the world to simultaneously create and edit work on-line, and Google calendar to help teachers plan and coordinate their work stand to boost productivity and effectiveness, she said.

“Google Certified Teachers are exceptional K-12 educators with a passion for using innovative tools to improve teaching and learning, as well as creative leaders and ambassadors for change,” a Google spokesman said. “They are recognised experts and widely admired for their commitment to high expectations for students, life-long learning and collaboration.”

Ms Rosenberg certainly fits the bill: she has made a disproportionate impact on South Africa’s education system through her work raising standards among the country’s teachers. Working with schools in the desperately poor black townships as well as Jewish schools, her team implements several educator-focused projects which are designed to meet the needs of the nation as it shakes off the residue of apartheid.

“During apartheid there were different education systems assembled according to race,” she writes on her blog. “Now, the country has gone a huge way into integration of all races into one system of education, but it still has a huge way to go as far as performance in education and infrastructure are concerned.”

Teachers in township schools face enormous challenges in addition to overcoming their own deficiencies caused by the poor education during the apartheid era: class sizes of between 60 and 100 students are common; and poverty, hunger and a proliferation of orphans as a result of HIV/AIDS mean teachers often also have to be mothers, social workers, nurses, and psychologists.

“I therefore found it very difficult to define classroom innovation to these classroom, as what I wish for them is that they meet basic needs first: well-fed children, secure homes and environment, and not being abused on the way to and from school,” Ms Rosenberg writes.

ORT SA’s Education Empowerment provides students with quality education by working with teachers and managers to upgrade their skills and knowledge in subject matters as well as in mentorship and leadership skills through workshops, material and classroom-based support.

“I have been involved in the professional development of educators at ORT SA for the past six years, which has been very rewarding as I get to see the impact of our training and mentoring on individuals,” she said. “Many times the impact goes beyond the profession and the contribution we make is felt on a personal level. So when I received the email that Google chose me for the Google Teacher Academy, I felt like I’d won the golden ticket to the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory.”

The application process included filling an online form, which took two weeks of preparation, as well as preparing a one-minute video on the topic of Classroom Innovation.

“Working with teachers in promoting classroom innovation is challenging and rewarding at the same time,” she writes on her blog, “but creating this one-minute movie has opened some insight into what classroom innovation can be."

“We’re so proud of Ariellah, she deserves every bit of recognition for this achievement,” said ORT SA Chairman Irwin Lipworth. “Participants in the Google Teachers Academy are selected for their professional experience, their passion for teaching and learning, and their successful use of technology in school settings – so Ariellah was a natural candidate. She has a passion to go that extra mile, even if there’s only a small impact; and she’s always thinking of innovative ways to educate using technology.”

Article date: 20100805