After working for many years in education, Emily Ben-Ze’ev has recently set up her own business, ‘Emily’s Adventures in Wonderland’, which incorporates her experience as well as her own love for travel, music and learning. She has created interactive, fun workshops for children aged 4 – 11, which she teaches in schools throughout the country.
“As a primary school teacher for 25 years, I have been rated ‘outstanding’ by every OFSTED inspector I have met, and praised for my creativity and great rapport with the children. I have always dreamt of doing something like this, and I am so happy that I have been able to make it a reality.”
Originally from Southport, she grew up in Manchester, and moved to London after finishing her studies at Cambridge University. Throughout her career, she has taught at a variety of Jewish schools including Menorah Primary School and Mathilda Marks Kennedy Jewish Primary School, where her mother Suzanne Kushner also worked as Headteacher for many years at this school. Most recently, Emily was Assistant Head teacher at North West London Jewish Day School before leaving to set up her business.
Having worked in education for so long, Emily has seen a significant amount of changes and developments within the system, and began to feel that there was a lot more pressure on assessments and paperwork, both for the children and the teachers. “I have always been interactive in my classes, and that is how I have always taught, and always loved to teach. I felt that by creating these workshops, I was able to continue with the same interactive approach and reach out to more schools and children.”
The workshops cover a wide range of subjects and allow pupils the chance to take part in sessions that teach about nature and wildlife, to music from around the world where pupils learn songs from different countries. As a keen ornithologist and member of the RSPB, she is able to teach children about different birds and other wildlife, and has even run trips to local nature reserves such as Welsh Harp near Hendon.
Many of the props Emily uses in her sessions are from her own unique collection which she has acquired from her many travels, “I love travelling and have amassed a huge collection of musical instruments, hats and other items. I have anything from Egyptian costumes, through to a didgeridoo or a piece of the Berlin Wall that I use to bring to life the subject I am teaching.”
Since starting her workshops in September, she has had a great response from teachers and children alike, which has been very encouraging. “Many of the children seem to enjoy the interactive elements of the workshop, and it is a different way to encourage learning. I think I enjoy the workshops as much as the children, and always come out on a high after the session. I enjoy sharing my own passions, and hope that this will influence them and teach them about life in all different areas.”
The workshops involve a lot of cross-curricular links and aim to bring education to life for pupils, and give the children a more hands-on experience and way to learn. One of the most popular workshops that Emily runs relates to looking at different cultures. “Using costumes and hats that I have collected from various travels, as well as instruments, children are able to learn about different countries, and opens their mind to the world around them.”
She currently offers a programme of 10 different workshops which relate to subjects such as Geography to Music, all of which include a mixture of interactive, fun and play elements which incorporate key elements of the national curriculum for both KS1 and KS2 levels. Each workshop is tweaked and tailored to the individual needs of each school, and Emily works closely with the staff in developing this. “Different schools and classes react to different things, and having worked in various schools I understand what will work in each instance.”
Emily runs her business from her home in Hendon, but she is more than happy to travel to schools anywhere in the country, and has recently run workshops in Gateshead, Manchester and across London. Much of her business is through word of mouth, and recommendation, with many schools contacting her directly to run workshops. Her husband, Ittai, has been very supportive in her new venture, and as an accountant he has been able to help Emily with many of the financial considerations involved in setting up a business.
As well as her passion for travel, she also has a love of science. “I have run science clubs for over 20 years for within schools which has certainly given the “wow” factor to the children. It is important to me to make learning fun, and to give them experiences and lessons that they will always remember. Recently, I met a past pupil who was studying medicine and she told me, ‘You were the one who inspired me with your science lessons’. It makes me proud that I have had such an influence on children I have taught.”
For anyone who might be thinking of making the leap and changing careers or starting their own business, Emily would definitely encourage people to do it. “I would definitely advise others to just go for it, carpe diem. It’s the best decision I have ever made, and I am really enjoying being able to use all my skills and experience doing something I am so passionate about.”
Emily hopes in the future to be able to develop her business to offer more workshops across many more subjects, and to also be able to create specific workshops that relate to key historical events, or even more current events going on in the country at the time. “My aim for my business is to continue to deliver inspirational workshops and lead pupils to many educational ‘Adventures in Wonderland.’”
Emily would like to offer a 10% discount to anyone making a booking before Chanukah (Tues 12th December). This offer relates to either a half day or full day workshop. Please contact Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07960 610 278. Please remember to quote The Jewish Weekly when making the booking.
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