Roen Salem, head of art department and longest serving faculty member, retires for health reasons


BP Archive Photo by Neima Fax '20

ART: Ms. Salem’s art room was ”a safe space for students to express themselves and create art,” according to Drama teacher Ms. Emily Chase. Above, she works with then-junior Sophie Handelman in 2019.

By Benjamin Gamson, Editor-in-Chief

UPDATE DEC. 29: Roen Salem, who taught art and AP studio art from the school’s founding in 1995 until retiring in October for health reasons, has passed away, Head of School Rabbi Block announced this morning. Funeral and shiva information is pending. The Boiling Point will publish details as they become available. 

Ms. Roen Salem, who has taught art at Shalhevet since the school opened 29 years ago, is retiring because of health reasons. 

Head of School Rabbi David Block and Principal Mr. Daniel Weslow announced her retirement in an email to the Shalhevet community on Oct. 13. 

“Roen has been a staple of the Shalhevet family,” the email stated. “She lives the values of the Just Community and cares about nothing more than the development, wellbeing, happiness, and authentic expression of every student… It is Roen who promoted the arts as a mode not only of expression but as a means of finding one’s truest self.”

The email compared Ms. Salem to Betzalel, the artist and architect of the mishkan

Roen’s instruction and artwork were Divinely filled with בְּחָכְמָ֛ה וּבִתְבוּנָ֥ה וּבְדַ֖עַת וּבְכָל־מְלָאכָֽה – wisdom, understanding, and knowledge in every craft (Shemot 35:31),” it said.

Ms. Salem, known by her students as Roen, is the longest serving faculty member at Shalhevet, having worked at Shalhevet when its doors opened in 1992.  She was gone from school due to illness in 2019, leaving in February 2019 and returning that August.

Roen has incredible love and energy that she brings to the classroom and a way to connect with each student individually.

— Samantha Garelick, Art Teacher


She is only the second teacher to retire from Shalhevet, the first being history and economics teacher Ms. Tove Sunshine in 2018.

Art teacher Ms. Samantha Garelick said Roen guides students to express their imaginations through art, and has influenced her own teaching.

“Roen has incredible love and energy that she brings to the classroom and a way to connect with each student individually, and she helps each student find their inner creativity even if they’re not sure that they necessarily have it,” Ms. Garelick said.

She said that she is still in contact with Roen and shows her the students’ work. 

“Roen and I speak almost daily,” she said in an interview, “and she still from her bed is sending me ideas and were brainstorming things to do, and I show her pictures of the art that the students are creating in class, and it brings her so much joy.”

Ms. Emily Chase, who runs Drama and has worked at Shalhevet since 1993 said that Roen has been a mother figure to her. 

“She encourages creativity,” Ms. Chase said in an interview this morning, “and creates a safe space for students to be themselves and to relax and be creative in a supportive environment. And she’s always filled the schools hallways with beauty and art.”

This is a developing story. A more complete picture of Ms. Salem’s contributions will be posted shortly.