The attacks on Saturday, October 7, 2023, in southern Israel have had a profound impact on the global community. The shocking events shook the Walworth Barbour American International School (WBAIS) community in very personal ways. Several families on both our Jerusalem and Tel Aviv campuses have experienced the disappearance, kidnapping, and loss of family members. Many of our faculty and staff members have had their adult children and spouses called up for service, adding to the emotional burden. International teachers have felt the pressure of their families' worries, and most of our school community have needed to find their way to shelters multiple times during rocket attacks. The weight of these emotions is heavy.
As of this writing, most Embassies, which constitute a significant portion of our enrollment, have instituted authorized departure, allowing their families to leave voluntarily. There are indications that others may require families to relocate. Over the past 14 days, we have been fully engaged in formulating a response to guide our school community through this crisis. In recent days, we have begun to find stable ground, enabling us to move towards more proactive planning.
Our enrollment has dropped from 802 to 365, and many of our international teachers have relocated. The virtual programs we created during the pandemic and other smaller conflicts are serving us well, providing the flexibility needed to meet the diverse needs of our community members. We are preparing to bring students who still reside in the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv areas back to campus, as security allows. As we confront the reality and prepare for the possibility of the conflict escalating, we hold onto hope that some semblance of peace will return for our students, the school community, and humanity at large.
Numerous friends, former colleagues, and heads of school have reached out to express their support and inquire about how they can help. The knowledge that other schools, some of which have experienced similar upheavals, are thinking of us and offering support is deeply appreciated. If WBAIS has a family that has been temporarily relocated near your campus, we might be reaching out to see if your school has available seats or can provide in person social or emotional support for our students.
Dr. Devin Pratt currently serves as Superintendent at the Walworth Barbour American International School with campuses in Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv area.
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11/23/2023 - Yoel Dror
You are all in our thoughts in these shocking times. If we can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out.
10/26/2023 - HoS
Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your school's families. For families returning to Turkey, please have them contact Ulus Jewish Schools, Istanbul's only Jewish School, to meet with me to discuss what can be arranged for their children to continue their education.
Take care and hope for more peaceful times ahead.
10/26/2023 - Kristan Julius
As a former teacher at WBAIS, my heart goes out to all your community. Please contact me at the above e-mail if I can offer any support to students or faculty as an virtual educator or visiting author.
10/25/2023 - Rachel
Dear Devin: Please accept my sincerest best wishes as you navigate this significant and devastating crisis. I am sure you have an established network of support but please let me know if you would like to connect. Although there are many differences in our experiences, my recent time with PSI, Kyiv has shaped me as a person and as a school leader.