Training our future teachers

by MainGate Staff
Spring 2022

“The current challenges in Lebanon have increased the already urgent need for qualified and committed teachers and other educational practitioners in Lebanon,” explains Dr. Tamer Amin, associate chair of AUB’s Department of Education. “Thanks to the Dodge Foundation Teacher Training Scholarship Program, we are helping to address this urgent need.” The program, which is funded by the Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation, provides full tuition for up to 28 students for a one-year, 21-credit teaching or special education diploma program – and for professional development training after they graduate. “Training the next generation of teachers who will be committed to providing an excellent education to the children of Lebanon is an imperative that the Cleveland Dodge Foundation is proud to support. Throughout the long relationship with the Dodge family, AUB has been the leader in education in the region. This program is another example of AUB’s innovation in providing quality education for the future,” commented foundation president and AUB Trustee William Dodge Rueckert.

The 15 students who graduated in 2020 and 2021 are working in 10 schools and other organizations providing educational support to vulnerable communities in Beirut, Saida, the Beqaa Valley, and elsewhere in Lebanon teaching English, science, and mathematics and serving as homeroom teachers, special educators, and educational coordinators. Other Dodge Foundation Scholars are pursuing master’s degrees in the field of education.

Maya Wehbi, Cycle II elementary English coordinator at Makassed Aisha School in Saida, which offers education free of charge to economically disadvantaged children, has worked closely with Dodge Scholar Yara Hammoud, who graduated in 2021. “Yara has shown great leadership skills in managing her class and engaging her students – and colleagues – in valuable discussions,” she says.

As part of the program, the Department of Education provides graduates and their colleagues with valuable professional development opportunities on a wide range of topics including innovative student-centered teaching methods; effective use of digital technology during and post-crisis; supporting children with special learning and emotional needs; and educational leadership in times of crisis.

Dodge Scholar Heba Harb, who completed her diploma in special education in 2021, attended a workshop on assessment in special education offered by Professor Vivian Khamis. Harb, who is an elementary homeroom teacher and special educator, says that as a result of the workshop “I now feel able to confidently seize any opportunity that requires me to lead, aid, and benefit other fellow teachers and practitioners.”

Professor Anies Al-Hroub, who coordinates the in-service Professional Training Program, says that the program is “building the capacity of Dodge scholars, teachers, and other practitioners, and raising morale and hope at schools, which is so important especially during the current difficult economic crisis in Lebanon. As a department we will continue to make every effort to continue to reach out to all schools and the most vulnerable students.”

AUB’s Department of Education has a long history of promoting education in Lebanon and throughout the region and beyond. It has also been in the vanguard of educational reform efforts such as the bottom-up school-based reform approach of the TAMAM project and the department’s contributions to the educational component of the Khaddit Beirut initiative, established after the August 4, 2020, Beirut explosion. “The Dodge Scholarship Program projects the best of what our department aspires to offer,” says department chairperson Dr. Rima Karami. “Through its thorough selection process and recruitment of aspiring educators, our department is attracting exceptional students who are highly dedicated to the teaching profession. This is not only optimizing the impact of our diploma programs but also spreading a climate of passion for teaching and service to our broader student body. We are very grateful to the Dodge Foundation for its support and look forward to partnering with other donors on similar programs.”