At the start of the 2020-21 school year, our Upper and Lower School campuses were adorned with banners that read Superheroes Teach Here. Our faculty and staff over the last two years have gone above and beyond to keep our students engaged, safe and provide them with a sense of normalcy during this challenging time. While Golda Och Academy has always prided itself on having a committed, dynamic and caring group of teachers, it has never been more apparent than during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Yet even before the pandemic began, Golda Och Academy had recognized the importance of investing in its faculty. Faculty Excellence was designated as one of the pillars in the school’s five-year Strategic Plan that was launched by our Board of Trustees in Spring 2019, and in March 2021, Golda Och Academy announced a transformational $10 million challenge gift by the Jane and Daniel Och Family Foundation. The gift established the Dr. Michael Och Fund for Faculty Excellence, an endowment fund named in honor of Dr. Michael Och, the father of former student Daniel S. Och, husband of the late Golda Och and dear friend of our school. The Och family’s gift represents one of the largest investments in faculty among Jewish day schools in the United States.
Additionally, it was announced this past January that Golda Och Academy was the recipient of a $1.8 million grant as part of the Wilf Family Foundations’ gift to the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest New Jersey Centennial Campaign. The gift will support our ongoing faculty excellence initiative focused on strengthening our school’s ability to recruit, reward, and retain the best and brightest teachers for our students.
Over the past year, Golda Och Academy has leveraged the generous funding from the Och and Wilf families to implement the school’s vision and create a compensation framework that will help attract and retain the most impactful faculty for students. To bring this initiative to life, a committee was formed consisting of Upper and Lower School faculty members and both Deans of Faculty. The committee, which was previously chaired by Chief Financial and Operating Officer Julia Malaga and now currently chaired by George Paulick, Director of Human Resources and Talent Management, has been working tirelessly to create a compensation and evaluation model that inspires professional growth, leadership and excellence. This new model will move away from a framework in which compensation was determined solely by tenure and instead transition to a new, more comprehensive approach in which professional experience, education, and classroom impact all contribute to a teacher’s advancement. The goal of this model is to help create a work environment in which teachers are rewarded for their accomplishments inside and outside the classroom and to ensure GOA is a place where teachers can imagine building a long, meaningful career with numerous opportunities for advancement, mentorship, and leadership.
“At Golda Och Academy, our faculty delight in engaging the minds of our students, introducing them to ever more nuanced ways of understanding the world and equipping them to express their ideas with insight and impact,” said Head of School Rabbi Danny Nevins. “Clearly this is a challenging task, and only exceptional instructors can succeed with these goals. This is why I am so encouraged by the emphasis our school has placed on faculty excellence. Our new compensation model demonstrates respect for our faculty, rewards them for their work and creates pathways for professional development. It bodes well for our school that we are investing in the faculty, the teachers of our beloved students. This is our best path toward fulfilling our mission."