The Future at AJA

May 11, 2017
15 Iyyar 5777

Dear AJA Community,

I’ve often been asked what I view as the keys to being a successful school. That is the easiest question I’m ever asked...because the answer is simple.

"Education without vision is like a present without a future."
Professor Pinchas Shifman
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Let me elaborate. In order to create the best academic environment for our children, where they will learn and grow and develop into the ideal AJA graduates, these are the essential components:

1. Have a clear answer to the “why” we are here

2. Always keep an eye on the mission and plan for the school

3. Nurture and support highly-talented educators, faculty and staff and place them in roles where they will be the most successful

So, I’m here to say...done. done. and done.

I am BEYOND thrilled to send this email. After exhaustive searches, endless meetings and lengthy discussions, I have solidified a team that will strengthen AJA (an ECD - 12th Grade Modern Orthodox school) and bring us to the 21st Century through the educational philosophy I’ve been speaking of since I joined the AJA family. We will continue to develop the AJA culture of warmth, middot, academic excellence (in both Judaic and General Studies), and social emotional growth - with the solid and meaningful connection to Israel and to Torah that we’ve been continuing to nurture.

I couldn’t be more proud to announce the following updates:

Instructional Leaders
As you will see, there are some new additions to the school leadership team to work closely with our already strong current Instructional Leaders. Many of you met Rabbi Houben last weekend at the Town Hall, and you can read more about his experience on his link below. Take a look to see the exceptional team we now have in place:

Debbie Bornstein  -  Lower & Middle School Judaic Studies
Rabbi Allan Houben    Upper School Judaic Studies
Diane Marks  -  M’silot K - 4th Grade
Dr. Missy Rivner  -   Middle School 
Joel Rojek  -  Upper School General Studies
Leah Summers  -  ECD & Lower School General Studies
John Wilson  -  Upper School

Executive Director  -  Franeen Sarif 
We are deeply grateful that Franeen was able to seamlessly step in as Interim Middle School Lead! Although she was simultaneously serving as our Executive Director, now she is able to focus on that role 100%.

I’d also like this opportunity to thank Sylvia Miller and Pam Mason for their behind-the-scenes efforts to insure the social-emotional well being of your children.

The newest updates:
John Wilson will be stepping up as the Upper School instructional leader. He already has been working with the Upper School on an almost daily basis, so this is a natural transition for him. He will continue to parlay his strengths as a teacher, administrator and school leader into his new role. John already has solid connections with our Upper School teachers, faculty and staff - which will be an asset as we transition to One AJA in August on our shared campus!

Missy Rivner worked this year very closely with our Middle Schoolers as the Library Learning Commons (LLC) Specialist. She brings not only her technology strength and 21st Century Learning Skills, but also a solid connection to the children. She’ll be working closely with Franeen on the transition this summer, and I know she is excited to get started in her new role as soon as she can.

What about the LLC, you may ask? That is a top priority for me. I’m already working with Missy and John on a plan to continue efforts in creating a LLC that is in line with our vision, where students become more content producers than content consumers. I’ll communicate that update this summer.

With this team in place, I am confident that the 2017-18 school year and beyond will be incredible! Please join me in congratulating our Instructional Leaders for the new school year. Your children and their Jewish educational journey are in the best possible hands, and I couldn’t be more excited.


Rabbi Ari Leubitz

Parshah Behar-Bechukotai
Mitzvot in Parshat Emor


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Wednesday, 18 July 2018