Recanati-Kop-Rashi Award for the Entrepreneur Teacher and Social Worker – פרס רקנאטי
Photos of Herzog , Gideon Sa'ar and other officials speaking Award conferences Recanati

Recanati-Kop-Rashi Award for the Entrepreneur Teacher and Social Worker

About the Prize

The Recanati-Kop-Rashi Prize was established by the businessman Leon Recanati and Prof. Yaakov Kop, founding director of the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel. They were later joined by Mr. Eli Alalouf (Executive Director of the Rashi Foundation, an independent private philanthropic foundation dedicated to assisting the underprivileged in Israel, particularly children and youth) and the late Mr. Stanley Chais, an American-Jewish businessman who was active in Israel social and education affairs. The founders consider education and social services key to the advancement of community and society in Israel. The prize is meant to encourage and highlight innovative working methods in the education and social-service systems

The Prizes

The Recanati-Kop-Rashi Prize is offered on two complementary tracks: the Innovative Teacher Prize, for school and preschool teachers from all kinds of institutions in Israel, and the Innovative Social Worker Prize, for social workers in all social-service settings countrywide. The prizes are also meant to disseminate the winning initiatives and, more generally, the innovative approach, in education and social-welfare settings. The awards are endorsed by the Israel Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Affairs, respectively. In education, up to twelve initiatives are chosen every year, each entitling an innovative teacher to an ILS 10,000 prize. The prize is awarded to teachers at the preschool, primary, and post-primary levels who initiate and develop singular aspects of their work. The winning initiatives enhance pupils’ scholastic and educational achievements in a way that improves pupils’ prospects of further progress in their post-scholastic lives. In social work, up to three winning initiatives are chosen each year, each entitling an innovative social worker to an ILS 10,000 prize. The winners are field-level social workers, in all areas of this profession in Israel, who initiate and develop singular aspects of their work. The winning initiatives promote and serve the needs of the population by invoking innovative and creative tools that solve immediate problems and bring about change in individual, community, and social life. Prizewinners in both fields demonstrate the additional quality of a vision that transcends solving immediate problems and aims to engineer change in individual, community, and social life.

Public Council and Steering Committee

Each prize is stewarded by a Steering Committee and an Advisory Public Council to ensure that it reflects professional norms that mirror the participants’ finest experience in the diverse sectors of Israeli society. The Steering Committee monitors the selection process and the work of the referee panels that choose the winners. The Public Council advises the prize administration on the promotion of the objectives of the program and liaises with the sectors that are represented on it: the Ministries of Education and Social Affairs, teachers’ and social workers’ unions, municipal government, business, academia, parents, and various public organizations. The steering committees are headed by Mr. Leon Recanati, Prof. Yaakov Kop, and a representative of the Rashi Foundation.

Refereeing Process and Selection of Winners

The winning initiatives are selected on the basis of criteria that reflect the innovative aspect of the idea, the singularity of its implementation and operation, its measured results, how long it has been applied, and its potential for assimilation and dissemination elsewhere in the education and social-service systems. In the first stage, candidates fill in a detailed questionnaire that describes the initiative. The referees for teachers’ initiatives include, among others, college heads and school principals, pedagogical executives and senior education administrators, lecturers, inspectors, researchers, veteran teachers, and academics who specialize in developing innovative curricula. In the past year, sixty-five referees took part in this procedure. Similarly, fifteen referees were appointed to select candidates for the Innovative Social Worker prize. All were leading professionals in their field, such as experienced veteran social workers and executives and experts in social work. In the final selection round, representatives of the steering committee and the public council for each prize joined the evaluators Candidacies for both prizes are reviewed in a detailed six-stage process The evaluation and selection criteria are based on uniqueness of content, originality relative to programs and solutions already being applied in the system, and innovativeness. Also examined is the innovator’s modus operandi from the initial stage, in which the idea was conceived, through its development and application, and up to identifying proven outcomes and potential dissemination and assimilation of the initiative in the system. After all candidacies are reviewed, those found worthy are invited for a personal interview ahead of the final screening round. The finalists receive their prizes at a ceremony attended by government ministers, prominent personalities in education and social affairs, and representatives of the business sector. The prizes are advertised on our Web site and in education and social-service venues, teachers’ and social workers’ unions, schools, and social-service bureaus.

Winners in 2016

In 2016, the Recanati-Kop-Rashi Prize for the Innovative Teacher was awarded for the tenth time and the Innovative Social Worker prize was bestowed for the seventh time. The public call for candidates led to the submission of some 280 initiatives by teachers and around forty by social workers. The refereeing panels chose eleven initiatives in education and three in social work. The winning initiatives, emanating from all parts of the country and different population groups, were typified by a broad range of activities that was implemented in a diverse spectrum of institutions countrywide. This year as before, two prizes were named for two distinguished teachers who are no longer with us: the Shmuel Letichevski Prize for an initiative titled “Accelerating Physics“ and the Sima Letichevski prize for “Historical Experience.” Further details may be found in the category of the winning initiatives.

Remarks by the Council Chairs

Innovation—Transcending Excellence

Teachers and social workers in Israel do their work in a social milieu that subjects them to new and renewing challenges. Their habitus exposes them to difficult professional problems that they must solve in order to do their jobs and attain both personal and national objectives. They are driven by the feeling and the belief that, beyond teaching or social work being their occupation, they carry out an important social mission in view of their country’s social and economic disparities and religious, ethnic, national, and other schisms. These professionals serve society in all its complexions, including many population groups in need of special attention: children and youth at risk, elderly in distress, single-parent women, recent immigrants struggling with integration hardships, and people with disabilities. It is undisputed that teachers and social workers play a prime role in social resilience and advancement. Israel’s education and social-service systems, however, suffer from long-term budget constraints that make it difficult to offer adequate solutions to the problems that typify Israeli society. Just the same, many teachers and social workers manage to accomplish a great deal, surmounting the budgetary and systemic difficulties to find creative solutions that their systems do not offer. They have to conceive these solutions; to invest much effort in developing them, and, at times, in seeking the resources with which to implement them; contribute their time to applying them; and, at the end of the process, even to persuade the system to assimilate and support their innovations in order to make the requisite system change become real. The Innovative Teacher Prize and the Innovative Social Worker Prize are unique among socio-educational projects in Israel. Their purpose is to encourage those special teachers and social workers who expand the boundaries of their endeavors despite the aforementioned hardships, set exceptional demarches in motion, and make breakthroughs in their professional fields. We congratulate the prizewinning innovators and those candidates who, although not winning, received honorable mention in the various stages of the competition and were found worthy and appreciated in the refereeing process. We thank the members of the panels of referees, who invested energy and time, working day and night on a totally volunteer basis, to identify the initiatives that were most deserving of the prizes. We also thank the members of the Public Council who escorted us in our activity and the members of the steering committees who saw the process through. We hope the Recanati-Kop-Rashi Innovative Teacher and Innovative Social Worker Prizes will continue to highlight the practice of innovation in education, community, and the social services, to the benefit of us all.

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