Innovation, innovation, innovation – these are the pillars on which World ORT will secure its future role in education and they lie at the heart of Shmuel Sisso’s blessing for the organisation as he steps down as Director General and CEO after four years.
The former mayor of Kiryat Yam is returning to Israel where he has been appointed by the Ministry of the Interior as mayor of Tel Mond, near Netanya. Mr Sisso’s task is to restore the municipality to administrative and fiscal health. Chief Operating Officer Dan Green has been appointed Interim Director General and CEO.
Mr Sisso’s accomplishments while heading the professional team at World ORT augur well for his future role: his commitment to diversifying financial resources has resulted in the organisation enjoying improved revenue and a consequent greater allocation of resources to meet beneficiaries’ needs.
As World ORT President Dr Conrad Giles and Chair of the Board of Trustees, Dario Werthein, said in the official announcement of Mr Sisso’s decision to step down, his “departure closes an incredible chapter of service to our organization. Through his all too short tenure, Shmuel has shepherded in a new and exciting era of accomplishments including, amongst others, expansion of our activities in the FSU, further development of our network of colleges and universities, initiating the World ORT Kadima Mada Educational Network in Israel, acquisition of the Kfar Silver Youth Village in Israel, and developing World ORT network activities and cooperation around the world will remain as his ongoing legacy and serve as examples of his vision and his energy.”
Dr Jean de Gunzburg said he was privileged to have worked with Mr Sisso when he was president of World ORT:
“Under his tenure World ORT has continued to grow and thrive, with many new ventures to his credit and that of his team, as well as a renewed atmosphere within the network.”
World ORT Deputy President Richard Bernstein said that Mr Sisso had “accomplished what we all aspire to do in our lives: and that is to make a difference in the lives of others”.
ORT South Africa CEO Ariellah Rosenberg said she highly appreciated his “warm, sincere and ‘tachles’ approach”, and Jacques Levy, President of the Anieres Alumni Association, said that beside his ability to run a large organisation like World ORT he “particularly appreciated [his] sincerity and friendliness”.
But as he enjoyed a farewell barbeque with World ORT staff, Mr Sisso’s thoughts turned to the organisation’s future.
“My blessing to World ORT is that it should be at the forefront of 21st century education. To do that it has to be really innovative,” he said
It’s a process which has already started with the recent launch of the Innovation Centres programme. Teachers from six countries gathered in Israel to train for the new 30-week curriculum in technological innovation and entrepreneurship.
Students will master the process of getting a product to market, from making a prototype to promotion, all while learning increasingly sought-after skills such as collaboration, digital literacy, critical thinking and problem-solving.
The learning will be hands-on – centred on small-scale, high-tech workshops either in, or close to, their schools. But the aim is to extend the programme and to have Innovation Centres hosted by colleges in World ORT’s burgeoning network of schools and colleges in Israel.
“I have now instigated a strategic change which gives us far more permanence and a far better opportunity to effect lasting change for our students,” Mr Sisso said of the network in his address to World ORT’s Board of Representatives in Madrid last week.
The network comprises six schools and three colleges of further education but the goal is to expand to 20 schools and bring in colleges from around the world. The latter has taken its first steps with the re-establishment of the ORT Braude Academic College of Engineering in Israel as part of World ORT family and its signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with ORT Uruguay university.
Underlying Mr Sisso’s achievements has been his determination to reach out to Jewish children in danger of assimilation.
“I have loved working in education and developing Jewish identity in children who are far from their heritage,” he said.