Suheir Sayed Omar has been dedicated to her research in organic chemistry at the Hebrew University for over 10 years. She decided to enroll in the Teacher-Scholar program in order to give school children the tools and encouragement they need to succeed in their studies.
"When I was in high school, no one explained to me how to study or the value of higher education. So my mission as a teacher is to empower my pupils by showing them that if they study seriously, they will be able to fulfill their potential and make choices about their future. This program is my way of giving back to the community by sharing my love of learning with the younger generation."
While Suheir is at the beginning of her Teacher-Scholar training, she is already completely devoted to teaching chemistry for the matriculation exam at a high school in East Jerusalem. A trailblazer in several ways, she is the first Arabic speaker in the program, the first to work in East Jerusalem, and the first connection that her colleagues and students have had with the Hebrew University.
Suheir's charisma and passion for her subject are infectious. Though initially only nine students signed up for chemistry, another 11 joined her class on hearing their friends enthuse about her teaching. She ignited their curiosity from the outset by a simple, magical experiment: using colors and heat, Suheir demonstrated how understanding the properties of chemical materials can open the door to learning about other chemical processes and phenomena around us.
Suheir draws on her University research to motivate her students to excel, describing to them the triumphs and failures that are integral to lab work, and telling them about the undergraduates who she helped succeed. Determined to ensure her pupils' progress, even during the Coronavirus lockdown, she made herself available at all hours to answer questions and received effusive compliments from their parents in return.
"I truly believe that every student can succeed when they know their teachers care. I introduced a feedback questionnaire for the whole student body, which every pupil completes after an exam to assess their own performance and to record where they felt they were missing information. Otherwise, as teachers, we miss the opportunity to educate them properly."
Suheir grew up in the Arab town of Deir al-Asad in the Galilee but has spent her whole academic career at the Hebrew University. When not teaching, her research focuses on designing new materials for the catalysis process and preparing capsules for improving the controlled release of active materials.