‘Strategic shuffling’ and new staff member will cover roles of former principal, Rabbi Segal announces

NEW: Rabbi Block is now taking on oversight of the Judaic Studies department after joining the staff last year

By Hannah Jannol and Clara Sandler

Head of School Rabbi Ari Segal said today that a “strategic shuffling will go into effect immediately” to fill the roles of Principal and Assistant Head of School, Dr. Noam Weissman, who was in charge of many areas within the school ranging from admissions and discipline to curriculum development, student life and co-curriculars.

The e-mail, sent to current parents at 1:45 p.m., summarized a list of ways in which Dr. Weissman’s previous administrative roles would be absorbed both by old and new administrators and teachers.

The only new person mentioned in the e-mail was Dr. Jonny Ravanshenas whose title will be Dean of Student Life and who “will oversee student activities and all co-curricular programming.” Dean of Student Life is a new position.

“For those who don’t know Jonny— he has an Ed.D. in Educational Psychology from the Rossier School of Education at USC and an MBA from the Marshall School of Business at USC,” Rabbi Segal wrote. “He is a beloved educator in the Los Angeles community.”

Judaic Studies will now be led by Rabbi David Block, Judaic Studies teacher and the school’s mashgiach ruchani, or spiritual supervisor, who has also been in charge of davening and has been conducting admissions interviews this year.

Judaic Studies teacher Rabbi Abraham Lieberman, who was previously the Head of School at YULA Girls High School, will now “provide leadership and professional support for our Judaic Studies faculty,” the email said.

Dr. Ravanshenas will also be involved in Admissions, Rabbi Segal wrote.  Dr. Weissman had participated in the interview process in previous years, not this year, according to Admissions Director Natalie Weiss.

Also expanding their roles now are Rabbi Segal himself, who said he would be assuming a “more hands-on approach in the day-to-day of the school and spearheading this transition across numerous departments;” and Executive Director Ms. Sarah Emerson, who he said would take on more “day to day management of the school” with some CFO (Chief Financial Officer) and COO (Chief Operating Officer) roles.

General Studies Principal Mr. Daniel Weslow will now oversee the Student Support and the Guidance departments.

And Ms. Atara Segal, who teaches Judaic Studies and is a part of the religious and Israel guidance programs, along with Dr. Ravanshenas, will join the Educational Leadership team, which Rabbi Segal described as “the core team that sets the vision for education within the school.”

This year the team has consisted of Dr. Weissman, Mr. Weslow, Rabbi Ari Schwarzberg, head of the Shalhevet Institute and Judaic Studies teacher; Dean of Academic Affairs Ms. Aviva Walls; Director of Student Support Ms. Ashley Evins; Hebrew Department chair Ms. Mickey Rabinov; Mr. Weslow, Director of Curriculum and Instruction and Math Chair Dr. William Walton.

Dr. Weissman will no longer serve on the Educational Leadership team next semester since he no longer holds any administrative roles, according to an administrator who did not want to be named.

The last “shuffle” Rabbi Segal mentioned was not a shuffle.

“Ms. Aviva Walls and Rabbi Ari Schwarzberg – both important members of the current administrative team – will continue in their respective roles. They will add stability and professionalism to this period of transition.”

After recognizing what a “difficult few days” the last week has been, Rabbi Segal’s email also stated that the school would be fine and education would not be affected by Dr. Weissman’s departure.

“My assessment of the current team at Shalhevet remains: This is as strong, passionate, capable, and diverse a group of educators as I have seen,”  the head of school wrote.

He said some existing faculty members “will take on expanded roles within the school; some will take on new portfolios altogether; and every single member of our staff will continue their work at Shalhevet with characteristic professionalism, enthusiasm, and excellence.”

Rabbi Segal ended the email with a note directed at parents.

“I want to assure you that our greatest priority and most sacred mission is to educate our students and to guide them to become strong leaders and proud Jews who live their lives with compassion and integrity,”  Rabbi Segal wrote.

“While many of us are feeling a complex array of emotions, we are confident that the Shalhevet Community will come together, as we always do, and continue to be the warm, innovative and extraordinary school that we love so much.”

He did not say whether a new faculty member other than Dr. Ravanshenas would be brought in to fully replace Dr. Weissman, or whether the roles of Principal and Assistant Head of School would cease to exist, or whether the various shuffles were a temporary or long-term solution to his departure — for example, whether they’d continue next fall.  Efforts to reach Rabbi Segal this afternoon were not successful.

The Boiling Point will offer continuous updates on the situation as they become available.