Weekly Message 8-19-11

August 19, 2011 
19 Av 5771

Shalom Chaverim, 

Gann’s 15th year is just around the corner!   

This summer the campus has been abuzz with activity and planning for the upcoming year.  For a snapshot of this work, please be sure to read the recently sent “Gann Buzz.” Many of our administrators, educators, and staff have been hard at work preparing for another great school year, and I want to express my gratitude to all of them.  

Just as our faculty and staff will begin the school year with shared learning and preparation over the next week, so, too, will our students and entire community begin the year in a meaningful and memorable way. In that spirit, I want to remind you that our Freshman Orientation and All-School Retreat at Camp Yavneh will be August 29 and August 3031, respectively.  This promises to be another wonderful experience that will strengthen our community and school culture, deepen relationships, and transmit the spirit and the values at the heart of our school.  Please mark your calendars and watch for more information about the Retreat from the Jewish and Student Life team under the direction of new Director Becca Shimshak.  

It is my pleasure now to introduce the new faculty and staff members who will be joining our Gann community this year. You will find here short bios of these new members of our professional community who, I know, will make a great contribution to our school and to the experiences of our students, both in and out of the classroom. Please join me in welcoming our new faculty and staff to Gann!  

I would also like to describe some of the new and shifting roles of several of our administrators and how they will support our students, faculty, staff, and parents.   

Jacob Pinnolis has been promoted to the newly-created position of Director of Teaching and Learning, responsible for the support, growth, and development of our entire faculty. He supervises department chairs, works directly with teachers to develop their instructional practices, and is responsible for our systems of teacher supervision and evaluation.  I am confident that, after years of growth and success as a Tanakh teacher, mentor, and professional development leader, Jacob will bring his knowledge, wisdom, and passion to this new role and will continue to solidify and strengthen Gann’s commitment to instructional excellence and to our teachers’ learning and growth. 

Christine Stodolski continues her work as Assistant Head of School this year with a focus on the student experience. As the supervisor of all support systems for students outside the classroom, including college counseling, the Learning Center, the deans, and other areas, Chris is the primary go-to person for student and parent issues that cannot be resolved by teachers, advisors, learning specialists, or others. As so many of us have experienced, she ensures that we focus on learning, that we create the conditions under which students can be successful, and that we respond to challenging situations as collaboratively, sensitively, and timely as possible.  

Dr. Jonathan Golden has been promoted to Assistant Head of School this year and will continue his focus on academic operations, policies and procedures, and the management of much of the day-to-day activities of the school. Jonathan ensures that our programs and daily operations support the mission of Gann Academy and maximize teaching and learning. He is the primary go-to person for matters relating to systems and structures, including the calendar and educational facilities. Jonathan will also work closely with our Finance and Operations teams and our Institutional Advancement group (Development, Marketing and Communications, and Admissions) to improve collaboration and communication between these teams and our teachers and educational leaders.  

And, as I mentioned above, Becca Shimshak has joined Gann as our new Director of Jewish and Student Life (JSL). With her significant experience in Jewish camping and staff and program development, Becca brings new energy to our JSL team and programs and will build upon last year’s efforts to improve systems, planning, and communication. Our JSL team will also focus on increasing and enhancing student involvement and engagement this year. 

I look forward to sharing more information about our roles and new initiatives as the school year unfolds. In the meantime, let the learning begin!  

Shabbat Shalom, 

Rabbi Marc Baker 



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