We are writing to update you on the Head of School search process and provide a brief overview of the committee’s work during the remainder of the school year and over the summer months.
Four months ago, our Head of School, Naomi Reem, announced that next year would be her last at MILTON. The Board of Trustees appointed a Search Committee and hired a search firm, DRG Search, and together with their search consultants, Dara Klarfeld and Tani Weissman, we launched a robust, thorough, and transparent process to find MILTON’s third Head of School. We are now entering the exciting next phase of the search process, focused on the recruitment of candidates.
Recruitment begins with a description of the position we are seeking to fill, which was developed with significant input from the JPDS/MILTON community. Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated in the information gathering phase of this search. We are grateful for the robust participation in the Head of School survey, and for the insights and thoughtful suggestions shared by parents, alumni parents, the Board of Trustees, former trustees, community members, members of the administration, faculty, and others who attended meetings with DRG. These outreach efforts yielded valuable information about what the MILTON community values about our school and its leaders, as well as our school community’s hopes for the future.
We put that information into a carefully prepared position description which will be used as a tool to recruit candidates. It includes a wonderful description of MILTON and what makes our school distinctive, the key responsibilities of our next Head, and the qualifications that a successful candidate should possess. The position description is being distributed broadly. We also invite you to forward it to potential candidates in your network, and have anyone you think might be interested contact DRG directly here or by emailing Tani Weissman.
Over the coming months, our efforts will shift to identifying potential candidates and beginning to connect with them. The Search Committee will be reviewing semi-finalists ahead of announcing finalists to the community in late fall 2019. Once finalists are announced, we will invite members of the MILTON community to meet each finalist. We will hold meetings for current parents, faculty, staff, and students. We will share more information about this as finalists are selected.
Thanks again to all who got involved in our information gathering phase. We look forward to the next steps, to a busy summer, and to sharing updates with you as we move along.
The Search Committee invited members of the school community to share their unique insights and contribute to the Head of School search process by participating in a series of meetings with our search consultants Dara Klarfeld and Tani Weissman of DRG Search. During their March visits, Dara and Tani spent time speaking with MILTON parents, alumni parents, the Board of Trustees, former trustees, community members, members of the administration, faculty, and current Head of School Naomi Reem. We are grateful to Dara and Tani for facilitating robust conversations in order to identify areas of strength and opportunity for the school. We are especially grateful to everyone who joined us for these important discussions. Dara and Tani had open and productive discussions with community members, focusing on what they love about MILTON, our school’s next areas for growth, and the type of leader that could best serve the school. These valuable discussions provided the DRG team a window into the culture and community at MILTON. Tonight, DRG will meet with the Search Committee to share the information they gathered through the survey in January and the meetings earlier in March. The data will serve as a framework for the opportunity statement that DRG is building together with the Search Committee. We will share the final opportunity statement with the community in this webspace and through as many channels as possible to find the right candidates.
The Head of School Search Committee has begun its work in conjunction with efforts by our search consultants, DRG Search. We are currently planning for DRG’s first visit to our school on March 17-19. In preparation for this visit and as part of the Search Committee’s information-gathering efforts, we launched a Head of School Search survey. The anonymous Head of School survey is being administered and compiled by DRG. Members of the JPDS/MILTON family – including current parents, alumni parents, alumni, grandparents, faculty, staff, friends, and supporters – have been invited to share their input and to help shape the search process. We look forward to hearing from the community about the qualities that are most important to you about MILTON, what you most value in a Head of School, and what you think MILTON will need in its next leader and in the next chapter.
This survey is a preliminary information gathering effort. The school community will have additional opportunities for input throughout the Head of School search process. Thank you for sharing your unique insights. We are grateful for your participation in the process and for this opportunity to gather valuable information about the needs and priorities of our entire community, so that together we can strengthen our school.
Current Head of School Naomi Reem has announced that after 15 years at her post, the 2019-2020 academic year will be her last year at Milton.
The Board of Trustees has appointed a Search Committee headed by former Board President and long-time Trustee Helaine Greenfeld (Jake Mintz ’07, Abby Mintz ’11), and engaged a search firm, DRG Search. Ranked as one of Forbes’ 2018 and 2017 Best Executive Recruiting Firms, DRG Search has extensive experience and a successful track record of working with Jewish day schools.
The Board is committed to conducting an open, transparent and comprehensive search for Milton’s next Head of School. Over the next few months, the Search Committee and DRG will be reaching out to all the members of the Milton family – parents, students, faculty, staff, alumni and their parents, donors, and other supporters – to listen to your thoughts about the kind of leader Milton needs to guide us into the future. DRG will then help identify the right candidates, who will spend time at school and with the Search Committee.
Milton is one of the most exciting, dynamic, and successful Jewish day schools in the country, and we are confident that our search process will yield the right next Head of School for the 2020-21 school year and this exciting next chapter in the life of Milton.
We will involve and inform the community throughout the process. Keep checking back as we update our Head of School Search webspace. In the meantime, if you have questions, or want to talk more about the process, email President of the Board of Trustees Steve Laufer or Search Committee Chair Helaine Greenfeld. We are looking forward to engaging with the Milton community throughout this process and to diving into this exciting and important work.
A Letter from Naomi Reem
Dear Milton Community,
It is with mixed emotions that I am sharing with you that Academic Year 2019-2020 will be my last year at Milton. By then, I will be completing 15 years at the helm of the school and will be granting the diplomas to the first Middle School graduating class. It will also be time for me to look for my next experience and for the school to welcome its new leader.
Much has happened at JPDS-NC/Milton and in my own life since the summer of 2005, when my son Jonathan, then a fourth grader, and I joined the school. We now have two beautiful campuses; we successfully launched an extraordinary Jewish middle school in Washington, DC; our enrollment is at a record high, with nearly 400 students attending Grades Pre-K to 7; we matured as an organization, formed partnerships, and invested in our talented faculty and staff through grants, continuing education, and professional development; and we have grown into a central institution in the Greater DC community. At the same time, much has remained the same: the excellence of our faculty; the deep and meaningful learning our students experience; the care of everyone who works at the school; the dedication and support of the community; and the tremendous efforts and contributions of the school’s many volunteers and trustees whose work helps sustain the school and serve our students and families.
I am privileged to serve as Head of School at Milton, a role that allows me to combine my passion for children and education with my love of Judaism, the Jewish people, and Israel. I am so fortunate to come to work every day at a school I love, working with talented professionals whom I trust, respect, and enjoy, and knowing that together we are making a difference in the lives of hundreds of students and positively impacting the Jewish future. While it will soon be time for me to move on, I will remain forever grateful for this incredible opportunity and for this incredible community.
I know that Milton is well positioned to attract the best candidates and that the Search Committee and the Board of Trustees will select the next Head of School with care and wisdom. I also know that the school is poised, once again, to welcome a new leader with a new vision and that you, the Milton community, will strengthen the hands of the new Head of School, as you all did for me, in order to move the school forward and fulfill its potential.
Over the next year and a half, the Search Committee and Board of Trustees will be focused on the transition to new leadership. During that time, the work of Milton’s Leadership Team will continue to be centered on delivering on our mission and on the day-to-day learning and growth of our students, faculty, families, and community, as well as on the vibrancy of the institution as a whole.
I want to express my gratitude to everyone who makes Milton such a dynamic, warm, and remarkable school and community. Thank you to all our past and present students, families, faculty and staff, volunteers, supporters, and especially to the Milton Board of Trustees, for the trust, support, and friendship you have extended to me during my tenure at the school. May Milton – and all of us – go from strength to strength.
Head of School, Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital
“For everything there is a season, a time for every experience under heaven.”
A Letter from Steve Laufer
Dear Milton Community,
By now you have read Naomi Reem’s letter announcing that the 2019-20 school year will be her last at the Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School. After 15 years as our Head of School, Naomi has decided that she is ready for her next professional experience, which means that we here at Milton will now prepare for a new chapter of leadership.
We have been lucky beyond measure to have had Naomi’s leadership for half of our life as a school. Throughout her time at Milton, Naomi has nurtured a reflective culture of learning and growth that produced innovation, collaboration, and academic excellence throughout the school. She has cultivated an exceptional leadership team, and talented and dedicated faculty and staff, who share her commitment to academic excellence, to a rich student experience, and to the school’s warm and inclusive community. Moreover, she has fostered a strong and collaborative partnership between the school’s Leadership Team and the Board of Trustees. In sum, Milton is a strong and vibrant institution, well poised for this transition.
The school’s growth under Naomi’s leadership has been nothing short of extraordinary. Naomi first joined the then Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capital in 2005, following Founding Head of School Susan Koss. Together with the founding families and early Steering Committees, our early leaders built a school based on love of Judaism and its values, excellence in education, and dedication to our community. They fought for our school’s survival, and ended up creating one of the most vital institutions in the Washington, DC Jewish community.
When Naomi joined us, we were getting established in our permanent location on 16th Street, and we were finally able to get our financial footing. Together with the school’s Board, and a growing network of generous donors both in and out of our parent body, Naomi and a dedicated team of professionals built upon the school’s earlier successes. They grew our student body, our talented faculty, our academic program, and our presence in DC Jewish life. They worked with the late Kay and Robert Schattner who supported our growth. They expanded our physical footprint with the acquisition of the South Campus. Later, with the partnership of the Moses and Gottesman families, they built our amazing new facility and launched the District’s first Jewish middle school in more than 40 years. The Biblical phrase, “from strength to strength,” does not even begin to describe the history of the Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School, and Naomi Reem has proven to be one of the most important sources of that strength.
Among the most important gifts that Naomi has bestowed on this community is the gift of telling us her plans well in advance of her departure. Thanks to this gift, the Board of Trustees has already begun fulfilling our most important responsibility of hiring the next Head of School. We intend to keep the community informed and involved throughout the search process and we invite you to follow this space to learn more.
While we will miss Naomi tremendously, the transition to a new Head of School is a normal and healthy milestone in the school’s evolution. We are confident that Milton will attract many extraordinary candidates and that we will be able to find the right one to lead the school forward starting in the summer of 2020. In the meantime, let us all start celebrating Naomi and her many contributions to our school.
President, Board of Trustees