Search committee closes in on replacement for Mr. Danovitch

PRINCIPALITY: General Studies Principal Mr. Danovitch, right, who is not returning next year, chatted with Principal Noam Weissman at lunch Feb. 6.

Ezra Fax

PRINCIPALITY: General Studies Principal Mr. Danovitch, right, who is not returning next year, chatted with Principal Noam Weissman at lunch Feb. 6.

By Alexa Fishman, Editor-in-Chief

School officials say the committee searching for a new General Studies principal has settled on four candidates, and that it hopes to narrow that down to two finalists by the end of the month.

No students are on the committee, but Head of School Rabbi Ari Segal said they would meet the finalists.

“We’re going to get [their] input when we get to the final candidates,” said Rabbi Segal. “Then the students are going to have a major role.”

Rabbi Segal would provide no information about the candidates, but he said that the two finalists would visit Shalhevet and meet the students when they come for interviews in March.  He said the committee would make a recommendation and then he would make the final choice.

“I’m looking for a General Studies principal who will be supportive of the faculty, responsive to the parents and the students, and someone who the various stakeholder groups want,” said Rabbi Segal. “Yeshiva University knows what Jewish parents are looking for on the General Studies side.”

Shalhevet is using the Yeshiva University Institute for University-School Partnership for its search service, but Rabbi Segal said that the candidate does not have to be Jewish.  He also said the YU service had access to secular search groups.

“All search firms go to the large search firms to get their resumes,” said Rabbi Segal. “Any search firm would have advertised [with] the national Jewish community network.”

Rabbi Segal said that many Jewish school use RAVSAK, which is a database that allows them to stay connected and discuss potential hires.

According to Rabbi Segal, race, gender and religiosity are not factors in the search.

Last summer, current General Studies Principal Mr. Roy Danovitch announced that this year would be his last.

“You reach a point where you look for another experience that will challenge you and stimulate you,” said Mr. Danovitch. “I want an experience that will help me evolve in a new direction.”

    Mr. Danovitch said he would not announce where he is going until March, but that he will probably move to the East Coast.

    The search committee is made up of two faculty, two parents, and community members including Shalhevet alumni parent Mark Rohatiner and school founder Dr. Jerry Friedman.

“We should be looking for somebody who compliments what we have now,” said Dr. Friedman. “Our school was based upon a Just Community and an environment that reinforces the student.”

Representing the faculty are Judaic Studies teacher Rabbi Ari Schwarzberg  and Ms. Tove Sunshine, who teaches history, Jewish history and AP Psychology. Rabbi Segal said he chose them from among teachers nominated in emails to him by the faculty. He said that many teachers nominated Rabbi Schwarzberg, who has been at Shalhevet for three years, and Ms. Sunshine, who has been at Shalhevet for seven years.

“I wanted someone who was more experienced in the school and someone who was newer in the school,” said Rabbi Segal, who came to Shalhevet with Rabbi Schwarzberg, in August of 2012.

Rabbi Schwarzberg said he hoped to find a new principal who could be a mentor for him.

“To me, the most important thing is having a teacher par excellence,” said Rabbi Schwarzberg. “I want someone who has been in the game for 20 or 30 years and has been through every type of situation.”

Ms. Sunshine said that the committee does want student input.

 “Initially the search firm sent a poll to a number of students with fairly extensive questions,” said Ms. Sunshine. “The search firm said that they had never worked with a group that had such consensus before.”

Students are eager to contribute to the discussion.

“I want a principal who is really understanding and embraces the aspects of the Just Community,” said sophomore Alex Reich. “It should be someone who allows out voices to be heard and makes us feel comfortable.”

Junior Yonah Feld agreed.

“The new principal shouldn’t be shy, and he should make a really good first impression,” said Yonah.