Tech head Robie Gruenfeld, smiling presence who was ‘tight with students’, leaves after three years

Another change in the technology department at Shalhevet was announced this week, with the departure of Information Technology Associate and Academic Support Technician Mr. Robert Gruenfeld — known as “Robie” (rhymes with Coby) amongst the students and faculty.

Mr. Gruenfeld had worked at Shalhevet for three years, starting as assistant to longtime Director of Technology Mr. Yossie Frankel, who left last year to work full time for CIJE, the Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education, which runs technology programs in Jewish schools around the country.

Registrar and Director of Facilities Lili Einalhori announced the change on Schoology Nov. 28.  It caught students by surprise.

“Everyone thought of Robie as a really cool guy, he’s so innocent,” said senior Ben Mashiach.  “He was just there, he helped everybody.”

“Every time I’d get in the gym to play ball, he would look from the window from where his desk was.  He’d always just look at us and he’d wave and we’d smile at each other, like what’s up?  Robie was a good guy, tight with all the students.”

Mr. Gruenfeld, whose office was a pair of desks surrounded by equipment in the second floor lobby overlooking the gym, helped with anything technical, whether it was the microphone and speakers at Town Halls or an Apple TV in a classroom.  He would update Schoology and post schedules, and ran a charging station, called the Genius Bar after the Apple Store help desk, where students could plug in their phones, laptops or IPads.

He also managed all the TVs, printers, and copying machines, and controlled the cameras during broadcasts of the yearly Glouberman Basketball Tournament. This involved managing the connection between Shalhevet’s school equipment and its computer broadcast service, The Cube.  

Sophomore Nicholas Fields, a Boiling Point Glouberman broadcaster, said he was “extremely upset” when he heard the news about Mr. Gruenfeld leaving.

“He was always coming in to help us,” said Nicholas.  “He could have spent that time with his kids, but he came to Shalhevet and did all this stuff for us.  That was really nice of him to do.

“Robie had helped me with a lot of stuff over this past year,” said Nicholas.  “He was always really nice to all of us and always known for being a great guy around Shalhevet.”

Senior Tali Schlacht said she was confused when she heard the news.

“It just seemed strange that it just happened and nobody knew, he kind of just disappeared,” said Tali.  “He was just always there — you were just like, ‘Oh, go find Robie.’  Like in Hebrew class, he always knew how to fix everything and he was always happy and nice.  His kids were fun to hang around at school.”

Mr. Gruenfeld’s replacement is Mr. Nick Parsons, formerly of Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy and YULA high school, whose title is Director of Technology.