With Gratitude

29 May 2015 
11 Sivan 5775  

Shalom Chaverim,  

At our Annual Meeting on Wednesday, we celebrated the end of another incredible year, reflecting on what we have accomplished and looking forward to our plans for the future. Most significantly, we also honored our faculty and staff members who have been at Gann for 10 years or more.  

In Devarim (Deuteronomy) 5:4, the Torah describes God speaking to the Children at Mount Sinai “panim b’panim – face to face.” One rabbinic midrash sees this encounter as a metaphor for the mutuality and meeting that is at the heart of a teacher-student relationship. While there are times when the teacher wants to teach but the student doesn’t want to learn, or the student wants to learn and the teacher doesn’t want to teach, “panim b’panim” represents two equally engaged, ready, and willing participants in the process of teaching and learning who are really facing one another. 

Education is a relational endeavor, and great teachers truly face their students. They see them not only as learners in a one-hour class but also as full human beings with extraordinary potential who need to be challenged, nurtured, and inspired. In the words of Parker Palmer: “Good teachers possess a capacity for connectedness.  They are able to weave a complex web of connections among themselves, their subjects, and their students so that students can learn to weave a world for themselves.”   

In honor of the sacred work done by our entire faculty and staff and in tribute to those who have served our students and the Gann community for the past 10 plus years, I would like to share with you below brief remarks given at the Annual Meeting by one of our Gann alumni, Tyler Crane ’12, who talked about his experience with Gann’s faculty and staff. I am also including my words of gratitude in tribute to each of the 18 faculty and staff members whom we honored this year. Please join me in thanking and appreciating all of them.  

Shabbat Shalom,  

Rabbi Marc Baker  


Gann Academy Annual Meeting, May 27, 2015: Remarks by Tyler Crane, ‘12 

Hi, my name is Tyler, and I’m also a 2012 graduate from Gann. I’m currently attending the University of Pennsylvania and spending my summer interning at Strategy & Management Consulting in New York.  

Though many aspects of Gann made my time there four of the best, most transformative years of my life, the teachers were absolutely central to my entire experience. They contributed to my academic growth, challenging me to consider new ideas and perspectives. Upon entering college, I found that my skills in critical reasoning, logic, and writing, developed through my classes at Gann, more than prepared me for the rigorous course load. However, more importantly, the teachers at Gann contributed to my social and spiritual growth. They provided a warm, enriching environment in which I felt comfortable to explore my different passions and discover who I wanted to become. They fostered earnest debates on the existence of God, the meaning of life, and our place in history. They opened their office doors, inviting us to simply blow off steam or propose a new idea formulated the night before after reading Descartes’ Meditations for class that day. In short, the teachers at Gann do not merely stand at the front of a classroom and lecture, as is all too common in college. Rather, they truly care about each one of their students, engaging them in both academic and non-academic ways, both within and beyond the classroom.     

My experience in French class during my senior year illustrates this critical dual role that the teachers at Gann fulfill. That year, my classmates and I were unable to find a time within the normal academic day to continue our French studies. However, our teacher for the previous three years offered to teach us during A Block, a time normally reserved for Arts and Athletics. Throughout that year filled with the stresses of college applications and AP’s, I would always look forward to French class during A Block. Our teacher provided a nurturing environment, teaching us in fun and creative ways that actually made those hour and a half classes the highlight of my day.  

The teachers at Gann are a truly remarkable group of people, who I have learned so much from. I would like to thank not only the teachers we are honoring tonight, who have worked at Gann for 10 years or more, but all of the incredible people who work behind the scenes to make Gann what it is today. While the students do not have as much contact with you on a daily basis, we understand the importance of your work in providing the support necessary to the transformative experience that Gann provides.   


Gann Academy Annual Meeting 
Wednesday,  May 27, 2015 
Dining Hall 

Faculty and Staff Awards Presentation 
Presenters: Rabbi Marc Baker, Head of School, and 
Ralph Van Inwagen, Interim Assistant Head of School 

We are proud to honor the extraordinary professionals who have dedicated 10 or more years of their careers to Gann Academy, its students, families, and alumni. 

Diane Dymek, Athletics: 13 Years 

Diane, you provide students a place of respite from the everyday stresses of their lives. Your yoga has taught both students and faculty to breathe deeply and to ground ourselves more in our bodies and our spirits. Thank you! 

Carol Englander, World Languages: 16 Years 

Carol, as both teacher and Department Chair, you have helped make sure that our students appreciate not only other languages but also other cultures and ways of seeing the world. Thank you for your devotion to Gann and to your students and for helping them to appreciate that seeing the world through other lenses will enrich their lives and deepen their understanding of themselves. Thank you! 

Robert Godoy, Facilities: 12 Years 

Bob, you quietly come and go, taking the time to make sure that our building is pristine and ready each day. While you do your work humbly and behind the scenes, we know that your hard work makes all of our work possible. Thank you! 

Dr. Jonathan Golden, History: 16 Years 

Jonathan, there is hardly a job that you haven’t done at Gann over the past 16 years. From teacher to coach to administrator to informal educator to every one of these roles, you have brought the same passion for learning and teaching, commitment to Gann’s pluralistic Jewish educational mission, and vision of civic education and the conversational community. Thank you! 

Laila Goodman, Student Services and Science: 10 Years 

Laila, you are a lifelong learner who brings learning to life for your students by showing how everything—from biology to sicha to discipline—is part of a grand conversation about what it means to be human and how we can be and become our best selves. Thank you! 

Dave Hubbard, Facilities: 12 Years 

Dave, your tireless work ensures that our facility maximally supports our teaching and learning, and you also make it possible for the broader community to access Gann, making the building a destination for events throughout the year. Thank you for your humble service and for your stewardship of our sacred space.  

Bobbi Jacob, Business: 10 Years 

Bobbi, you are the first person our students, parents, and visitors see or hear on the phone each day; you set the tone of the energy in the school. Thank you for your loyal service and for being a hub of connections and relationships that define the Gann community. Thank you! 

Yoni Kadden, History: 15 Years 

Yoni, your love and enthusiasm for history, citizenship, deep questioning, and moral education inspire our students every day. This love and enthusiasm are matched only by your extraordinary work ethic and your intense commitment to preparation and professional and personal growth. Thank you! 

Rebecca Kadden, Business: 14 Years 

Rebecca, you carry yourself with grace and professionalism as you guide us through the most complex of matters. You are helping to transform HR from the nuts and bolts of our operations to the building of a professional culture that is nurturing and supportive and in which all of our faculty and staff can thrive.  Thank you! 

 Rabbi Moshe Lieberman, Jewish Studies: 11 Years 

Moshe, you are able to connect with students from every Jewish background.  You have been wearing your passion for Torah (and your feelings about pluralism) on your sleeve and, in doing so, you inspire in our students a love of yiddishkeit and Jewish learning. Thank you! 

Elena Morgan, World Languages: 13 Years 

Elena, your students love learning Spanish almost as much as they love Senora Morgan. Thank you for bringing Spanish language and culture to life in ways that are both fun and challenging, and thank you for how much you love our students –they certainly can feel it. 

 Josh Neudel, 21st Century Learning and Science: 14 Years 

Josh, as teacher, coach, dean, department chair, and now 21st century leader, you have pushed us to think forward, and you encourage us to innovate, create, and explore new territory. Thank you for inspiring your peers and our students to pursue learning and discovery, to find meaning in science, technology, and experiential learning, and, in the process, to discover ourselves in new ways. 

Elaine O’Toole, Food Services: 10 Years 

Elaine, from your famous muffins to your announcements about health and proper servery behavior, you do more than prepare and serve food; you are, in fact, an educator who both nourishes our students and helps them to be their best selves. Thank you! 







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