Head of School Search

December 9, 2020
23 Kislev 5781
Dear Friends,
The Golda Och Academy Board of Trustees and Head of School Search Committee are pleased to confirm that we have retained Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools, an organization deeply invested in the future of Jewish education. A team led by Amy Wasser, Prizmah’s Senior Director of Field Advancement, will guide us in the Head ofSchool search, aid our recruiting efforts, engage each of you and our entire GOA community, and work together with the Search Committee throughout the process. We look forward to partnering with Prizmah to find our next Head of School and, through that process, strengthen our wonderful GOA community. This decision was made after a thorough review of nearly a dozen search firms, with Prizmah being the unanimous selection based on both the strength of their capabilities and their alignment to our values and mission.
We Want To Hear From You
Prizmah’s first task is to conduct a “needs assessment” of GOA. Through a series of round table discussions and surveys, they will be gathering information to identify our challenges, our aspirations, and, most importantly, to understand the ideal leadership that will enable our community to build upon our many successes and strengths. Prizmah’s outreach will be broad, including parents and grandparents, students, alumni, administrators, faculty and staff, donors, rabbis, and our larger Jewish community ofstakeholders. As you know, GOA is a flagship Jewish institution and we have been heartened by the offers of support and assistance from our various stakeholders. We strongly encourage and very much value your participation in this process, beginning with a link to an anonymous survey that we will share over the next week. There will be meaningful additional opportunities to participate throughout the process, including the chance to meet and engage with any finalist candidates. We also invite you to share comments, questions, or suggestions with the search committee and have established a special email address for this purpose: GOAsearch@goldaochacademy.org.
Next Steps
We have expeditiously drafted an opportunity statement, which will be amended once we have your important input and guidance. This statement will reflect the distinctive Head ofSchool opportunity that GOA — as one of the leading Jewish day schools in the U.S. — represents to candidates, as well as the essential qualities our next Head of School will embody, including academic excellence and a commitment to Jewish values and learning.
Beginning next week, we’ll be sharing frequent and transparent updates on the search process both on the Golda Och Academy website and in News on the Go. 
As always, we look forward to partnering with each of you in this sacred work and identifying our next Head of School to lead our kehillah kedosha.
David Moss
Chair, Head of School Search Committee

Keith Biebelberg
Chair, Board of Trustees

Previous Communications

List of 3 items.

  • Letter from HOS Search Committee Chair & Chair, Board of Trustees — November 20, 2020

    To our GOA community,
    On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the GOA Head of School Search Committee, we would like to provide you with an update on our search process. First and foremost, please accept our heartfelt gratitude and deepest appreciation for your support, care, and dedication during this trying time. As you know, our community – and particularly our incredible administrators, staff, and teachers – has gone above and beyond to ensure that our school and students continue to thrive even in the face of significant challenges. Our GOA community remains a special place and a light.
    We recognize that Mr. Shapiro’s announcement last week was unsettling for some and unexpected by most. His announcement amplifies many of the anxieties that each of us are feeling. Mr. Shapiro has been an influential part in so many of our lives – for six years as head of school and for eighteen years as an educator, coach, mentor, and friend. During these past eight months, Mr. Shapiro has shown true character of leadership and has been there for our community at large. We are very grateful.
    Last week’s announcement understandably contributes to our collective sense ofuncertainty. While it is early in our search process, we would like to share some thoughts regarding four important areas with the goal of providing appropriate transparency and building confidence in the future.
    1.    Our Search Committee is representative and inclusive. Over the last two weeks, the Board formed a search committee inclusive of parents, alumni, supporters, administrators, and teachers. We believe it is critical that this committee is representative of our community and each member’s voice is equally heard. The GOA Head of School Search Committee composition is below.
    2. A clear path forward is rapidly forming. The committee immediately began discussions with more than a dozen leading professional search firms. We are reviewing their proposals and continue to meet with some. We will have the full support of a search firm shortly after Thanksgiving if not sooner, at which point we will share additional details on the process and timing.  Additionally, the search committee, through discussion with the extended community, has begun to build a preliminary list of prospective candidates. This is a start and will be further built out as we come together as a community to define our vision for our future head of school.  We look forward to sharing more details as the process moves forward, including the opportunity for you to meet some of the leading candidates ahead of any decision.
    3.    Our guiding principles reflect our values. The search committee began by agreeing a handful of guiding principles to frame our discussions. First, we must deliver to the community an inspired outcome. We must use this moment as an opportunity to identify a head of school who will instill confidence in, inspire enthusiasm from, and energize our entire community. Second, our future head of school must exemplify the GOA values. The individual must not only be qualified to execute our mission and vision but must have a well-established reputation for embodying Torah values such as Kehillah (Community), Kavod (Respect), Ahavat Yisrael (Love of Israel), Torah Lishmah (Love ofLearning), Tikkun Olam (Heal the World), and Mitzvot and Halacha (Jewish Life and Learning). Third, how we complete the search process can be as impactful as the outcome. We must use this moment as an opportunity to engage our community, openly hear and address questions, and chart a path forward together.  
    4.    We will engage the community consistently and openly. Over the coming weeks you will see regular updates from the search committee, as well as opportunities for you to provide input. For example, there will be a community-wide survey, with the results shared during a series of town halls. Please look for an invitation to a first town hall in early December. It is critically important this process remain inclusive and we maintain a healthy and respectful dialogue. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us or any member of the search committee if you would like to share thoughts and ideas. 
    As we wrote this note we reflected on a recent discussion with a Jewish community leader who is not otherwise affiliated with GOA. We asked this person why, in their opinion, somebody should aspire to be the head of school at Golda Och. This individual shared that “Golda Och is a jewel.” The demographics of our surrounding area are strong. Our financial position is secure. Our facilities are up-to-date. And most importantly, our team – especially our teachers, administrators, and staff - is unquestionably world-class. They continued that a head of school could not ask for a stronger institution and community with which to grow and build for the future. We agree with them wholeheartedly. We are moving forward from a position of strength and in partnership with each of you we will achieve an inspiring outcome.
    Through each of us together we remain GOA Strong.
    Wishing all a restful Shabbat.
    David and Keith
    GOA Head of School Search Committee
    David Moss (HOS Search Committee Chair, Board Member, Lower School Parent)
    Keith Biebelberg (Board Chair, Parent of Alumni)
    Rebecca Berman (Past Board Chair, Board Executive Committee member, Current Parent - Lower, Middle & High School)
    Shari Broder (Board Executive Committee Member, Parent of Alumni)
    Reisha Goldman (Board Member, Alumnus, Current Parent - Lower & Middle School)
    Keren Lebeau (Board member, Alumnus, Current Parent - Middle School & High School)
    Alan Schall (Board Executive Committee Member, Alumnus, Current Parent - Lower, Middle & High School)
    Steve Klinghoffer (Board Executive Committee Member, Grandparent)
    Julia Malaga (Golda Och Academy Chief Financial Officer)
    Paul-Michael Huseman (Upper School Department Chair and Faculty Member)
    Alexis Gruber (Lower School Faculty Member, GOA Parent)
    Sarah Schonfeld (GOA Alumnus)
  • Letter from Keith Biebelberg, Chair, Board of Trustees – November 11, 2020

    Dear Members of our Golda Och Academy Community,
    On behalf of the GOA Board of Trustees, I wish to thank our Head of School Adam Shapiro for his tireless and unwavering devotion to our school for these last 18 years; and especially for his extraordinary success in re-opening our school — and keeping it open — during these challenging times. Our gratitude to the entire administration and faculty begins with the Head of School. Adam's many accomplishments will long be remembered, and we wish him great success in his next chapter.
    At the same time, the Board wants to assure our cherished community that the members of our newly-formed Head of School Search Committee will shortly engage one of the top recruiting firms in the industry to do a national search for a new Head of School, whose term will begin this coming summer, just prior to the 2021-22 school year. This Committee includes experienced HR professionals, who will engage with the recruitment firm to find and retain the best qualified candidate to be our new Head of School. We are confident that GOA, as one of the country's leading Jewish day schools, will attract a strong pool ofcandidates interested in joining our esteemed institution.
    Our community's support for the work ahead, accompanied by the overall enthusiasm for our beloved GOA, energizes this Board to fulfill our strategic plan, and to look forward to the ongoing greatness of this institution.
    I will update you in the weeks and months ahead. May we continue to go from strength to strength.
    Warmest regards,
    Keith N. Biebelberg
    Chair, Golda Och Academy Board of Trustees
  • Letter from Adam Shapiro, Head of School – November 10, 2020

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
    With mixed emotions, I am writing to share with you that the 2020-21 school year will be my last as the Head of School of Golda Och Academy. The 18 years that I have spent in this institution have been incredibly rewarding on many levels and I will continue to cherish the relationships that I forged with our students, faculty, parents and community members along the way.
    I am grateful to have had the opportunity to lead this school as the Head of School over the past six years and am proud of all that we have accomplished. Today, our students are learning at a higher level, our faculty are more prepared, the school plays a more pivotal role in our country and community.  
    Our laser-focus on professional development for our passionate and dedicated faculty and staff has enabled our school to reach new heights when it comes to growth mindset, project-based learning and STEM education. We have embraced the idea of looking beyond the traditional classroom learning and have worked hard to ensure that meeting the social-emotional needs of our students carries equal importance when it comes to defining the portrait of an ideal graduate of our institution. 
    As Head of School, I committed a significant amount of time and energy towards ensuring that our school is well-represented both within our local community, amongst all schools under the umbrella of the NJ Association of Independent Schools and throughout the national Jewish day school world. The relationships forged with our local law enforcement officials, government leaders and area superintendents has positioned our school as a strong and fully-participatory community member and has enabled us to secure additional funding and support along the way. I am also quite proud of the work we have done with our partners at Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools. They have recognized our institution as a model for others to follow as a result of our development and fundraising work, our creative programming as well as our school’s commitment to social justice. Following the horrific school shooting in Parkland in 2018, I was honored to have been able to lead the effort that ultimately garnered the support of over 200 other day school leaders from all over North America in a call for action by our elected officials. 
    These past eight months have, without a doubt, been the most challenging of my career from both a professional and personal standpoint. Protecting the health, well-being and safety of our entire community has always been of paramount importance to me and it has certainly taken on new meaning since March. The challenges around opening a school (and keeping it open!) during a pandemic have been enormous, yet from the beginning I had complete confidence that our dedicated leadership team and outstanding faculty — who have demonstrated their superhero qualities at every step of the way — were more than prepared for the tasks at hand. Our school has always been blessed to have such caring and inspirational educators ready to do whatever necessary to motivate our students and I am honored to have had the opportunity to work closely with each and every one of them over the years. 
    I became an educator because of my faith in the ability of the next generation to make the world a better place and my desire to be part of their growth and development processes. A strong academic foundation, in my eyes, is grounded in deep thinking inside of the classroom and supported by efforts outside of the classroom that enable students’ eyes to be fully opened to the world around them. Whether it's reading stories with our early childhood students, teaching our seniors about Israel’s history or traveling the world with students to New Orleans, Poland and Israel, I have been enriched by every one of these experiences — just as they have been as well.   
    In the history of our institution we have graduated 1,800 outstanding students, and it has been a great honor throughout my tenure to see over 700 of them walk across the stage at graduation. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to keep up with so many and learn about their accomplishments beyond the walls of our school. I have enjoyed hearing the stories of their successes and how they’ve applied that which they learned in school — critical thinking, care for others and a desire to make their communities better and kinder places — in order to achieve a tremendous amount of success in their professional lives. I will continue to cherish these relationships and look forward to maintaining them for many years to come.
    While this moment marks the end of my professional connection to GOA — one that has afforded me the opportunity to proudly serve as teacher, coach, dean, principal and head of school — I look forward to remaining a part of this school community as a dedicated and supportive parent to my own three very special Roadrunners. As we learn in Pirkei Avot,
    לֹא עָלֶיךָ הַמְּלָאכָה לִגְמֹר וְלֹא אַתָּה בֶן חוֹרִין לְהִבָּטֵל מִמֶּנָּה
    It is not your duty to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it
    I have dedicated almost two decades of my career to this institution — never shying away from or avoiding any challenges along the way — and am so proud of all that we’ve accomplished during that time. While I do not know where the next stop will be on my professional journey, I am excited to write the next chapter.
    Thank you for your friendship and support throughout these past 18 years, I look forward to our remaining months together throughout the rest of the academic year. 
    In partnership,
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School


Please email GOAsearch@goldaochacademy.org with questions or for more information.

Head of School Search Focus Groups

High School Parent Focus Group
Monday, January 11, at 7:30 pm
Upper School Faculty Focus Group
(Option 2)
January 12 at 7:30 pm
Lower School Faculty Focus Group
(Option 2)
January 14 at 7:30 pm 

Check your email for Zoom links.