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Local teacher to go to Israel as Fulbright fellow
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Local teacher to go to Israel as Fulbright fellow

A year after taking 10 students from the Peddie School in Highstown to Israel in 2011, visual arts teacher Eric Drotch will be returning there as a Fulbright fellow.

Drotch is one of 20 educators who will travel abroad through the Distinguished Fulbright Awards in Teaching Program in 2012-13.

Between March and June of 2013, he told NJJN in a May 30 interview, he plans to take an intensive look at art education in Israel, and how student artists are affected by their military service.

Because most Israeli young people must serve in the army after graduating from high school, Drotch said, he is focusing his studies on “what is happening that allows them to keep abreast of what is going on in their own studio practice and in the art world.”

Young people who are interested in science or engineering, for example, can keep up with those pursuits during their military service, Drotch said, but, he suspects, for artists, “there aren’t a lot of opportunities in those three years. So, what does a student who is interested in becoming an artist do? It seems like there are plenty of opportunities for that interest to get derailed.”

To pursue his research, Drotch will be affiliated with the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design and the Israel Arts and Science Academy in Jerusalem, and hopes to enlist faculty members at both institutions to put him in touch with art teachers in Israeli schools around the country. “My goal is to try to get as diverse a sampling of schools as I can. ”

He is also interested in examining what appears to him to be a recent “real shift in art education in Israel. A generation or two ago there was a kind of pride in not just art education but education as a whole. Today Israel is suffering a lot of the same problems that American public schools are suffering.”

Drotch teaches drawing, painting, printmaking, and sculpture at Peddie, a nonsectarian prep school. His trip to Israel with 20 students in March 2011 included visits to both art and engineering schools and offered the teens “the opportunity to work shoulder-to-shoulder with Israeli kids in the classroom and on field trips.”

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