Success Stories – Our Graduates

• 85% of BSEC students have passed matriculation exams in the past 4 years, compared to 52% nationally

Adult Responsibilities at 15 years-old

­Yosef* was 15 years old when the social worker in his development town in the south of Israel recommended that he continue high school away from home at a residential school. He arrived at the Bet Shemesh Educational Center (BSEC) two months after the beginning of the school year when he was in 9th grade. Yosef is the oldest of five children. His father is an alcoholic and his mother is emotionally disturbed.

As his first Shabbat at BSEC approached, his dormitory counselor encouraged Yosef to stay with the other students in the dormitory for Shabbat. He told him that the food was good and that he would have a good time with his new friends. The dorm counselor was surprised when Yosef refused to stay and mentioned this to the social worker. After a long conversation with Yosef, the truth came out. “I have to take my sister to the doctor, pay the gas bill and then make sure there is food in the house for my brothers and sisters for Shabbat” Yosef explained. It became obvious to the social worker that at age 15 Yosef was acting as the head of his family. It was almost impossible for him to concentrate on his studies with all of this responsibility on his head.

With the help of the family’s local social worker we were able to help take some of this pressure off and Yosef settled into the routine of studying and staying in the dormitory for a few weeks at a time. In the middle of 10th grade Yosef stopped coming to school for a few weeks. The BSEC social worker found out that he had gone back to a group of his friends in his town and was experimenting with drugs. She kept in touch with him and after speaking with him a number of times, she was able to convince him to come back to BSEC.

With time Yosef immersed himself in the supportive atmosphere at BSEC and starting studying seriously. When he graduated from high school he was the top student in his class. After high school he went to study in a yeshiva.

Two years later, at a scholarship ceremony for graduates of BSEC, Yosef was sitting on the steps outside of the auditorium. He was wearing a tie and jacket and was using his time to study Torah until his name was called. When he was 22, Yosef got married and invited some of the BSEC teachers to his wedding. As the ceremony was about to begin, Yosef’s mother had not yet arrived at her son’s wedding. She was too emotionally handicapped to get herself to the wedding. One of the teachers drove 20 minutes and was able to bring Yosef’s mother to his wedding.

Technion Graduate from Bet Shemesh

Meir* completed his B.S. degree in 2011 in Mechanical Engineering from The Technion in Haifa. He graduated from the Bet Shemesh Educational Center (BSEC) in 2005, but when he started in 7th grade he admits he was not a serious student. “I never really studied seriously in elementary school and when I applied for 7th grade the only place where I was accepted was at the Educational Center”, he says.

When Meir was 10 his parents got divorced and he moved to Bet Shemesh with his mother and four older siblings. During 7th grade he lived at home, but he found BSEC to be fun and enjoyed his friends so much that he moved to the dormitory in 8th grade. Although his mother remarried and moved to the north of Israel when he was in 10th grade, Meir remained at BSEC until he graduated. “There was a great variety of students from different backgrounds and it was fun. I participated in the summer volunteer program every year, and made very good friends with the other students. In 10th grade I started to get into the learning. My math teacher was very good and gave me a lot of support. Also, my main teacher in 11th grade was a special person. In 12th grade I decided I wanted to do the highest level bagrut  (matriculation) test in computers, but there was no class for computers on that level. I still can’t believe that the school brought me a private teacher in computers and I completed 5 units in computers. That was really a big step for me.”

After graduating high school Meir spent one year studying in a yeshiva in Jerusalem, and the following year he enrolled in a special academic preparatory program for students from development towns. “That was the hardest year for me. For the whole year we had classes from 8AM to 4:30 PM, and studied only Math, Physics and English.” Following that year, he was accepted into the prestigious program in the Israeli army which allows students to complete their bachelor’s degree before serving the army in their field of expertise. “It requires a commitment of 10 years- 4 years in university and 6 years working in the army.” But Meir did not put his personal life on hold during his studies. During his years at the Technion he got married and today he has three children and is working for one of the leading hi-tech companies in Israel. “BSEC really gave me an opportunity to move ahead. No other school would accept me, and they even gave me the tools and help to study the fields that were interesting to me. That is where I started becoming a good student.”

*All names are fictitious