Weekly Message 8-20-10


 20 August 2010  
14 Elul 5770 

Shalom Chaverim, 

I hope that you are having a relaxing and rejuvenating summer.  The month of Elul is a time for reflection and introspection, for us as individuals and as a community. It is a time to look back at the person I have been during the past year, to look inward at the person I am today, and to look forward to the person I hope to become in the next year.  

At Gann the summer has been like an extended month of Elul. We have taken the time to reflect on what we, as a school, achieved last year, to process the important feedback we received from our parents during last spring’s end-of-the year meetings, and to plan and strategize for the 2010-2011 school year and beyond. It is energizing for us to reaffirm our mission and vision and to focus on goals and priorities for the coming year, and we look forward to the start of this school year with great hope and anticipation. I also want to express my gratitude to everyone who has been hard at work throughout the summer, preparing for what promises to be another productive and successful year at Gann. 

Let me share with you now some of our areas of focus for the coming year, which are essential to the ongoing actualization of our educational mission and which address many of the constructive concerns that you shared with us last spring.   

At the heart of a student’s Gann experience are our dedicated and passionate teachers, who connect with and inspire our students, both in and out of the classroom. Under the leadership of Associate Head of School, Dr. Susie Tanchel, who supervises our academic department chairs, we are refining our system of teacher supervision and professional development to support the ongoing growth of our faculty and their teaching practice. We know that our students learn best from teachers who are, themselves, always learning, and we are committed to hiring, supporting, and retaining outstanding teachers who can make a remarkable impact on our students’ lives. 

The experiences of our students and our parents are also shaped by the many educators who support our students outside of the classroom—from our deans and advisors to the Learning Center, to Health Services, to College Counseling. This important work links directly to students’ classroom learning experiences as well. I am excited to share that Christine Stodolski will be returning to Gann this year in a new position as Assistant Head for Student Affairs and will supervise all aspects of student support. Under Christine’s leadership, we will work to improve communication between these various areas of Gann, our parents, and our students, to clarify roles and expectations, and to proactively and responsively meet the needs of every student. 

Through support and professional development for advisors, as well as new systems and protocols, our Deans of Students will work closely with Christine to promote the professional growth of advisors and strengthen the quality of our Advisory program. As Dean of Students, Laila Goodman will direct our ninth grade program, working closely with parents, students, and advisors to ensure a smooth transition to high school. Associate Dean of Students, Rachel Arcus-Goldberg will oversee our 10th-12th grade advisor program. In his new role as Mashgiach Ruchani (Spiritual Advisor), Rabbi David Jaffe will focus on the character and Jewish identity development of our students, both through educational programs as well as through one-on-one student advising.  

In the High Holiday spirit of renewal, we are reviving the “New Jew” tradition by kicking off the school year with our All-School Retreat.  The retreat will build upon last year’s building of community and school culture, deepening of relationships, and transmitting the spirit and values at the heart of our school. This will also launch a year of Jewish and Student Life programs with increased focus on pluralism and strengthening the Jewish identities of our students.  I am happy to welcome to Gann Rabbi Daniel Klein, our new Director of Jewish and Student Life (JSL).  Daniel has been hard at work this summer not only planning our All-School Retreat but also developing a vision and plan for JSL programs throughout the year that will be intellectually stimulating, that cultivate student leadership and responsibility, and that challenge our students to engage one another, encouraging them to reflect on their values, beliefs, and Jewish identities.  

Finally, I am excited to announce that we have nearly completed a building renovation that will create two new classrooms and a refurbished dance studio and fitness room, as well as more flexible communal meeting spaces for our students and faculty. All of this will support our increased enrollment from 310 students last year to an anticipated 328 students for 2010-2011. We will share more details with you about our goals and initiatives throughout the year, and I invite you to contact me or any of the above Gann administrators with questions or concerns. 

Please join me in welcoming all of our incoming students and families and our new faculty and staff members joining the Gann community this year (click here for a full list of new faculty and staff members). Enjoy the rest of your summer!  

B’vracha (with blessings) and Shabbat Shalom, 

Rabbi Marc Baker 



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