Now that the chagim are behind us and the school year is really humming along, I am excited to share more details with you about the future leadership of the Lower School. As most of you already know, Mrs. Susan Koss will be retiring at the end of the year. She has served the MJBHA—and indeed, the entire Greater Washington Jewish community—for many years as an amazing teacher and principal. We are forever indebted to her for the role she has played in the school.
We are truly excited Rachel Handloff and Suzy Israel will lead our new administrative team. Both Mrs. Handloff and Mrs. Israel have learned a tremendous amount from Mrs. Koss and are prepared to take the leadership reigns from her beginning next year.
The job of Lower School principal is an enormous one with many distinct parts. Mrs. Handloff and Mrs. Israel have complementary skill sets and experiences, an exemplary working relationship, and are in an excellent position to share the roles and responsibilities.
The positions they currently hold allow them to have tremendous insight into the workings of the Lower School. Over the years, they have taught and observed hundreds of classes across the grades, established working relationships with all teachers, administrators and many parents, and maintained direct involvement in most other areas of the lower school administration.
Prior to their appointment, I spent several months time speaking with Mrs. Koss, members of the Executive Committee, other heads of school and recruitment experts in the field about our upcoming position and eventually about our actual plans. They have all been very helpful and very supportive. Having recently completed a national search for a middle school principal, I know that there are not many candidates who are qualified to lead our particular school better than Mrs. Handloff and Mrs. Israel. We find ourselves in the tremendously fortunate position to have excellent internal candidates who can step into the position and lead our Lower School for many years to come.
To further prepare for their roles as principals, both Mrs. Israel and Mrs. Handloff are taking professional enrichment training. Mrs. Israel has joined a year-long training program for new and rising principals called YULeads, while Mrs. Handloff plans to join a similar program through the Harvard Principals Center.
Let me share with you our vision for the key roles:
Rachel Handloff, Principal/Director of Student Affairs:
Mrs. Handloff will serve as the Principal/Director of Student Affairs. Her job will focus on all areas related to student life, including schedules, logistics, student discipline, overseeing guidance and the social-emotional curriculum, extracurriculars, recess, and all problem-solving related to these areas.
Suzy Israel, Principal/Educational Director:
Mrs. Israel will serve as the Principal/Educational Director. Her job will focus on all areas related to academics, including implementing the educational vision, overseeing curriculum, monitoring student progress, educational support and enrichment, educational transitions, and all problem solving related to these areas.
Mrs. Israel will continue to directly oversee Educational Support Services in the Lower School. She will receive additional administrative support for direct student services and managing the county-related processes.
Tammie Rapps, Assistant Principal/Director of Jewish Studies:
Mrs. Rapps will serve as Assistant Principal/Director of Jewish Studies. In addition to teaching her Chumash classes, she will be responsible for the Jewish Studies curriculum, as well as faculty mentoring, professional development, cultural arts integration and special programs. Mrs. Rapps brings years of experience and creativity in these areas and her role will enable our children to continue to experience Judaism with both depth and warmth.
Mrs. Handloff and Mrs. Israel will share some areas, including teacher supervision and hiring, and will work hand-in-hand on areas that overlap with both of their roles (much like they do now.) They have an excellent working relationship with each other and with Mrs. Rapps and I am looking forward to seeing the three of them further develop as a highly synergistic and very effective team.
Administrative size and costs:
We intend to hire a new guidance counselor to replace Mrs. Handloff. The administrative structure, titles and roles of Mrs. Handloff, Mrs. Israel and Mrs. Rapps will be somewhat different but the overall number of administrators will remain the same. This will help to keep the size of our administration and related costs essentially the same as they are now.
Throughout their time in the Lower School, Mrs. Handloff and Mrs. Israel have both demonstrated a tremendous sense of care, thoughtfulness, responsibility and leadership. They are dedicated to creating an environment that enriches the minds of our children as it also nourishes their souls. Together with Mrs. Tammie Rapps, they will form a dynamic team leading the MJBHA Lower School into the future.
If you have further questions or need for clarification, please feel free to contact me.
With best wishes,