Akiba-Schechter has the superb leadership of the following educators.
Head of School Dr. Eliezer Jones loves learning, forward thinking and challenging the status quo in education. He believes that each child is unique and that learning environments and teaching methods must be flexible in order to illuminate each and every child in our care. He holds dearly our school’s focus on “teaching children, not subjects.” He also feels strongly that each Jewish Day School has a responsibility, not only to the children in it, but to the field of Jewish education, which is why sharing our expertise and collaborating with other schools, organizations and institutions is important to him.
Prior to Akiba-Schechter, Dr. Jones was the General Studies Principal of Valley Torah High School (VTHS) in Los Angeles, CA, and before VTHS, he served as the Director of Educational Innovation for the Institute for University-School Partnership at Yeshiva University. In this role, he worked directly with K-12 schools in the areas of innovative school change, 21st century teaching and learning, educational technology and online/blended learning. He also had the pleasure of acting as a professor at the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration where he taught Educational Technology Integration for their Masters and Doctoral students.
Dr. Jones proudly holds a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles and has worked with children, adolescents and families in such clinical settings as Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Child Guidance Clinic in downtown LA. Occasionally, when he is not podcasting or blogging, you can find Dr. Jones riding around school or Hyde Park on an electric skateboard or building a Chicago Skyline replica out of LEGO.
Grade School Principal Miriam Kass comes from a family of educators. Over the past 15 years, Ms. Kass has worn many hats at Akiba-Schechter. She was the president of the Board of Directors, an award-winning 3rd/4th grade teacher, and most recently the Director of Teaching and Learning. In all her roles, she employed creative strategies and relished opportunities to build community and strengthen characters.
As Principal, Ms. Kass enjoys supporting teachers, collaborating with administrators, and partnering with parents and students. She is committed to helping our teachers and students discover and illuminate the connections between Judaic and General Studies to enrich the important work of inspiring active Jewish citizens.
Ms. Kass has a B.A. in Religion and Education from Carleton College, and a M.Ed. from Lesley College. Before coming to Akiba, she taught at Brookwood School in MA and at the Latin School of Chicago. Students, friends and family know Ms. Kass as a lover of word games, puzzles, biking and birds. She is the mother of two Akiba alumnae. She and her family are residents of Hyde Park, members of Congregation Rodfei Zedek and proud White Sox fans.
Carla Goldberg has been the Akiba-Schechter Preschool Director since 2000, the second Preschool Director in the school’s history. Carla started at Akiba in 1991 as a teacher and has since taught in the 1st & 2nd grade, Kindergarten, 3- and 4-year-olds, Ready!Set!Go!, and Parent/Tot. She became Associate Preschool Director in 1996. Carla’s experience teaching the range of early childhood years as well as in the grade school is evident in the thoughtful care Akiba-Schechter places on easing children’s transitions from one year to the next. Carla’s first love is teaching, and she continues to teach in the Parent/Tot class.
Carla Goldberg has a BA in Early Childhood Education from the University of Massachusetts, and a Masters in Early Childhood Education for Leadership and Advocacy from National Louis University. Carla has taught Sunday school at Sinai Congregation and was the Early Childhood Educational Coordinator at Congregation Rodfei Zedek. In 2000 Carla was honored with the prestigious Kohl/McCormick Early Childhood Teaching Award. In 2001 Carla was named one of the 10 Chicagoans of the Year by Chicago Jewish News.
Over the past few years, Carla and nine of the Akiba-Schechter's preschool teachers have traveled to Reggio Emilia in Italy on a study tour to this world-renowned center for Early Childhood Education. Akiba-Schechter Preschool is proud to be a Reggio inspired preschool and deeply believes in this thoughtful and meaningful way of teaching young children. This year (2017), the preschool has been selected to be part of the Chicago Teacher's Project with five other schools throughout Chicagoland, which places a teaching fellow in our preschool for two years.
Rabbi Yaakov Cohen was born and raised in New York. After graduating from High School, he spent two years studying in Israel at Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh, where he became passionate about Jewish education and determined to dedicate his life to helping inspire the next generation of Jewish leaders. He attended Yeshiva University where he received a BA in Psychology. He also received his Rabbinical ordination from YU, as well as a Master’s degree from YU’s Azrieli School of Jewish Education and Administration, where he was a Legacy Heritage Fellow.
Rabbi Cohen strives to combine innovative educational strategies with classical teaching methods to transmit Jewish values. Throughout his teaching experiences in both Elementary and High School settings, his goal has always been to to create a student-centered environment that promotes confidence, creativity and growth. He believes strongly that the best way to nurture a student's academic and spiritual development is by sharing a personal rapport with every child. Rabbi Cohen is passionate about helping each child reach his or her greatest potential, while developing a powerful Jewish identity and lifelong Jewish pride.
Rabbi Cohen worked for 5 years at the YULA Girls High School in Los Angeles, where he served as Judaic Studies Director and teacher. While in Los Angeles, he also served as Director of the youth program at Adas Torah Synagogue, Director of Camp Yavneh, Co-Director of the ‘Witnesses Of Witnesses’ Holocaust program and spoke widely at schools, synagogues and universities on a variety of topics in Jewish scholarship and education. In Chicago, he has served as educational director of NCSY and has collaborated with other local Jewish youth organizations, including Jewish Federation, USY and BBYO. In his free time, he enjoys writing, recording music, and most of all spending time with his wife and their two boys.
A professional staff supports Akiba-Schechter’s leadership in daily operations:
Elisa Aranoff, Preschool Administrative Assistant, After-School Program Director
Jocelyn Gardner, Development and Special Projects Coordinator
Annette Gendler, Communications
Miriam Friedman-Parks, Grade School Administrative Assistant
Jill Kohl, Director of Community Engagment and Operations
Robin Lisak, Controller and Director of Administrative Services
Ronald Lisak, Building Engineer
Yisraela Marshall, Accounting and Financial Aid
Millie Miller z'l, School Matriarch
Levi Zeffren, Director of Development
Yelena Spector, Director of Admissions & Marketing
Jefferson Vernon, Building Maintenance & School Superhero!
Eddie Padilla, School Chef
The Board of Trustees of Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School is a dedicated group of parents and community members who oversee and work closely with the Head of School to create, enhance, and support excellence in every facet of the ASJDS mission.
The ASJDS Board is always looking for volunteers to join Board Committees as well as the Board of Trustees. For more information or to volunteer, please contact the Board Chair.
The current members of the ASJDS Board of Trustees are listed below.
Jamie Roitman, Chair
Douglas Glick, Treasurer