Rodeph Sholom School (www.rodephsholomshool.org) is an independent Reform Jewish Day School serving 515 students in Nursery through 8th Grade. An NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) school, RSS was founded nearly 50 years ago and is housed in two spacious locations on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The Early Childhood program, Nursery through Kindergarten, has its own space on 84th Street, and the Elementary Division (1st-4th) and Middle School (5th-8th) are housed in well-appointed spaces in the adjoining 78th/ 79th Street buildings.
The curriculum integrates the best of secular and Jewish learning, building knowledge and skills in math, science, the arts, humanities, and Hebrew and Jewish studies. The school is dedicated to providing a learning environment that exemplifies excellence in education, appreciation of the needs of the whole child, commitment to Jewish life, and responsibility to Jewish and world communities. Rodeph Sholom School is affiliated with Congregation Rodeph Sholom, one of the oldest and largest Reform synagogues in New York City. All families who have children enrolled at RSS are also members of the Congregation.
This year RSS has welcomed a new Head of School, Danny Karpf. Already in just a few months he has made great strides in re-energizing the community, bringing positivity and warmth to a school that already has a strong and loyal base. There is a palpable sense of commitment to the school on the part of faculty and parents and a wonderful sense of anticipation for the school moving forward in the next few years.
Rodeph Sholom School, a Reform Jewish Day School, fosters intellectual curiosity through a challenging independent school academic program in nursery through eighth grade. At the heart of RSS is a warm, vibrant community, where students are guided by Jewish knowledge, values, and ethics to become self-confident and socially responsible leaders.
The Middle School
Originally a Nursery-6th Grade school, RSS added the Middle School in 2001, expanding to 8th grade and now comprising 35 faculty members and over 160 students. The Middle School embodies strong student-faculty relationships that enable a learning environment that emphasizes content and skill knowledge and encourages a willingness to take intellectual risks. Across all disciplines, students are taught to question, to identify connections, and to draw conclusions in academic and social contexts. To coordinate the program and support students, the Head of Middle School works closely with a Grade Level Coordinator for each grade, Department Chairs, the School Psychologist, the Director of Student Support, and the Rabbi-in-Residence.
The Advisory Program, which supports meaningful faculty-student relationships and provides numerous opportunities to address individual as well as community issues, is a well-appreciated hallmark of the Middle School program. An advisor might help an advisee with organizational skills or arranging an appointment with a teacher and serves as a first point of contact for parents. Along with guiding students through their academic career, the advisor helps students develop their understanding of varying social milieus. Students meet in advisory groups daily. Students have one advisor in 5th Grade, then they are placed with a new advisor in 6th Grade whom they stay with through 8th Grade.
The 5th grade program is designed to help students transition successfully into the Middle School. The advisor helps them navigate a departmentalized structure for the first time, as well as supporting them in managing the social and emotional demands of Middle School. A unique aspect of the 5th grade program is the yearlong seminar program, in which students learn organizational and time management skills, as well as other active learning strategies that they can utilize across the curriculum. Various activities emphasize listening and other interpersonal skills. Seminar classes provide a space to practice and consolidate the skills needed to be a successful middle school student.
Another key aspect of the Middle School experience involves experiences outside of the classroom, both in terms of a service learning program and trips away from school. Fifth graders attend a fall trip to Frost Valley where they bond as the newest incoming Middle School class and challenge themselves with activities ranging from hiking to rock-wall climbing to boating. Sixth graders travel to Washington, DC, for a two-night, three-day exploration of the nation’s capital that includes a visit to Reform Judaism’s Religious Action Center. For an entire week during the spring, 7th grade students tour the southern United States while learning about the convergence of Jewish activism and the Civil Rights Movement. Finally, 8th graders culminate their experience with a two-week trip to Israel, which both cements their identity as a class and asks them to ponder their responsibilities as Reform Jews when they leave RSS and go forward to area high schools, and, indeed, the rest of their lives.
The Head of Middle School reports directly to the Head of School and serves as a member of the school’s senior Leadership Team. He or she has primary responsibility in the Middle School division for carrying out the school’s mission of providing a strong and comprehensive education for its students in an environment that celebrates Jewish identity, community, and values while also working in close collaboration with the other division heads. The Head of Middle School has day-to-day responsibility for Middle School operations, its students, its faculty, and students’ parents. In addition, the Head of Middle School guides professional development and ensures excellence in curriculum, teaching, and learning.
Rodeph Sholom’s next Head of Middle School will be an inspiring and experienced educator who finds joy in connecting with Middle School students and leading and supporting dedicated faculty. They will be knowledgeable about current educational and curricular practices and early adolescent development. The successful candidate will have a track record of being an accessible leader who successfully builds positive and collaborative relationships with students, faculty, staff, and parents. A deeply knowledgeable middle school leader who has the capability to foster, oversee, and articulate an educational program and enhance a warm and caring school environment will be a strong match for this school community.
Faculty will connect with a leader who is inspiring and practical. They will appreciate a leader who develops clear systems, communication, and procedures for the Middle School, pays attention to faculty growth and assessment, and considers a daily and weekly schedule that serves students of this age most effectively. In addition, the successful candidate will:
Embrace the mission, vision and community;
Foster an atmosphere of creativity, collaboration, and innovation that serves to build upon and enhance a dynamic middle school while encouraging faculty professional development;
Ensure that the program appropriately challenges and supports a diverse array of learners;
Understand how to support appropriate parent involvement and appreciate the value of the parent-school partnership;
Demonstrate a level of expertise and comfort with educational technology and 21st century educational practices;
Work collaboratively with others to ensure consistency in setting, managing, and monitoring the curriculum and expectations for academic achievement, challenge, and social and emotional development.
Faculty will benefit from a leader who will learn about and embrace the Middle School, and one who will be visible and responsive, effectively seeking input and moving forward with decisions and implementation. RSS seeks a leader who:
Has successful teaching and administrative experience and a track record of success as a leader, manager, and supervisor;
Is a responsive, articulate, and adept communicator while also being an effective listener;
Loves, appreciates, and understands middle school students;
Will be committed to the Jewish Life and Learning elements of the program;
Enjoys being an accessible member of a school community who connects with students, parents, and faculty with ease and sincerity;
Has a decision-making style that balances input, collaboration, and decisiveness and who approaches difficult conversations with directness and kindness;
Is highly organized and detail oriented;
Is knowledgeable about best practices in teaching and learning;
Is committed to the professional growth and development of faculty;
Leads with a sense of humor and compassion.
The next Head of Middle School will be an energetic and dynamic school leader who will welcome the opportunity to join this strong, warm and mission-focused community.
All inquiries will be treated confidentially and a review of candidate files will begin immediately. Please send electronically: Resume, Letter of Interest and Educational Philosophy, and/or Personal Statement to:
Jane Armstrong or Bill Lyons, Managing Partners, Independent Thinking
Rodeph Sholom School, the only Reform Jewish independent school in New York City, provides students with a unique learning environment, central to which are three critical components: an N-8 structure; challenging academics; and integrated secular and Judaic studies. RSS currently serves over 350 households and more than 550 students.