Something very special at Boys Town Jerusalem is changing the lives of boys in crisis. The school’s seven Special Education classes, spanning grades 7-12, are providing a priceless lifeline to youngsters facing acute emotional and/or learning disabilities. Impressively, these boys are leading the nation in their academic feats: with the average national bagrut matriculation score for special ed students at 20%, BTJ students’ average is 85%. What’s more, every BTJ special ed student passes the comprehensive matriculation exam.

“Our teachers are adept at giving students the encouragement, patience and knowledge to succeed in the crucial exams and ultimately in life,” notes 10th grade special ed teacher Rabbi Yonatan Naim. “Our job is to relate to many of the boys not just as a teacher, but as the father they lack. We give them the love and the critical tools they need for life.” The rabbi adds that the small-sized special ed classes, bolstered by teaching assistants, foster intensive personal attention for every student.

“Like all BTJ high school students, our boys perform community service,” he emphasizes. “My students are volunteering with sick children at Hadassah Hospital and with handicapped adults. On campus, they’re being specially trained by the maintenance crew to check classrooms for broken furniture, as well as how to make the repairs. The confidence, self-pride and sense of belonging they gain are invaluable.”

The rabbi stresses that special ed students join their “regular” classmates in sports, synagogue services, volunteering projects, and more. “They graduate with a crucial matriculation certificate and skills for life. Our grads go on to serve in the IDF, gain employment, and give of themselves.”

Their teachers gain as well. “I have never done anything more significant in life than teaching special ed students,” declares Rabbi Naim. “To see them succeed in life is a gift to us and to generations to come.”

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