Staten Island, New York– Esther Akerman, principal of RJJ/Yeshiva Merkaz HaTorah Girls School, has just returned from Improving Schools: The Art of Leadership, a seminar at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Principals’ Center.
The AVI CHAI Foundation, a New York-based private foundation dedicated to promoting Jewish commitment, sponsored Esther Akerman and fourteen other eligible day school principals from around the country to attend the seminar to help address the professional development needs of Jewish day schools, particularly in the area of instructional leadership.
Participants attend lectures and discussion groups led by Harvard faculty, educational consultants and school practitioners. The program focuses on the challenges facing new school leaders and supports participants as they develop skills for leadership. Rigorous study is combined with writing, reflection and peer interaction, allowing participants to identify priorities and share ideas and solutions. In addition, day school leaders attend complementary sessions, sponsored by AVI CHAI, that explicitly address applying the lessons learned at Harvard to the Jewish school context, with joint follow-up continuing throughout the year.
“It was a wonderful experience for me,” said Esther Akerman. “At Harvard, I attended lively, thought-provoking sessions exploring the components of what makes for effective school leadership. We learned how to enhance the quality of the school experience for everyone – students, teachers and administrators alike. The AVI CHAI sessions for principals of Jewish day schools allowed us the chance to discuss those issues close to our heart – creating the most effective atmosphere for the education of our children. I am looking forward to bringing these new skills back to RJJ/Yeshiva Merkaz HaTorah Girls School.”
Lauren Merkin, a member of AVI CHAI’s Board of Trustees, says, “Strong instructional leadership is critical to achieving AVI CHAI’s goal of enhancing the Jewish education provided by day schools, and helping them fulfill their Jewish mission through more effective leadership and shared learning. Through this institute we aim to provide Jewish day school leaders with an intensive opportunity to reflect on their own leadership with leading academics and practitioners from across North America.”
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