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.
Head of School