The senior administrators at Milton are responsible for developing policy and managing the School’s operations.
Naomi Reem has served as Head of School of Milton since 2005. Throughout her tenure, the school received its first independent school accreditation; grew from under 200 to over 390 students; opened an additional campus especially geared for students in Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 1 to meet demand; and opened a middle school program that extends through Grade 8. Under Naomi’s leadership, Milton adopted several new curricular initiatives in General Studies, Hebrew, and Judaic Studies, which earned the school a solid reputation, locally and nationally, as a forward-looking institution, excellent in its academics in all curricular areas. Milton’s reputation also attracted major philanthropic contributions, totaling over 40 million dollars in the last eleven years.
Prior to coming to Milton, Naomi was Head of School at Sinai Academy of the Berkshires, a day school in Pittsfield, MA, for seven years. Previously, she worked at the Gordon Day School in Miami, following experiences in several educational settings in Argentina, Israel, and the United States. Naomi earned a teaching degree from the Agnon Institute in Buenos Aires, a BA from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and an MAJE from Hebrew College in Newton, MA.
Naomi recently served as a mentor at the Day School Leadership Training Institute, a program sponsored by AVICHAI and the Jewish Theological Seminary to train new and aspiring heads of school. She also served as a Board Member of AIMS (the Association of Independent Maryland and DC Schools), where she previously chaired two accreditation teams for other Jewish Day Schools in Maryland. Additionally, Naomi is a member of the Executives Council for the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and previously served as its co-chair for three years.
Naomi is a native of Buenos Aires, and left her hometown in Argentina when she was 22 years old. She has lived, studied, and worked in the field of Jewish education on three continents.
Melissa Davis has been at Milton since 2011. She received a BFA in Theatre Education from the University of Arizona and an MS in Education from Johns Hopkins University in School Counseling. Her first teaching position was as a middle school Language Arts and Drama teacher in Northern California, during which time she received a subject matter competency in Secondary Language Arts. After moving to Maryland with her husband, Melissa taught Theater at a high school in Howard County.
Melissa took a “sabbatical” when her two sons were born, returning to teaching in 2007. She fell in love with Early Childhood, and taught for three years at the Ohr Kodesh Early Childhood Center, including two years as Assistant Director. She also worked for four summers as the Site Director of ESF Camps at Georgetown Prep. In the summer of 2014, Melissa completed a 15-month intensive leadership development program, JECELI (Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute). She has also worked at Capital Camps as a Yoetzet (Social Worker).
Melissa was born in Philadelphia and grew up in New Jersey and Southern California.
Arielle Derby was named to the position of Elementary School Director in 2016. Arielle is a master educator, curriculum developer, and administrator who has served Jewish day schools in multiple capacities. She earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College and a Masters Degree in Childhood General Education at Bank Street College.
Arielle came to Washington, DC, after serving as the Principal of the Lerner Jewish Community Day School in Durham, NC, where she oversaw its full educational program and supervised its faculty. Prior to that post, Arielle served as the Director of Judaic Studies at Lerner, and also taught in both General and Judaic Studies. Since moving to the Washington, DC, area, Arielle also taught General Studies at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School. Earlier in her career, Arielle also taught at the Hannah Senesh Community Day School in New York City.
Arielle is a proud day school graduate, having attended the Heschel School in New York in her youth. She lives in Silver Spring with her partner, Laurel, and son, Edan (’26).
Lisa Schopf was named Milton’s founding Middle School Director in February 2016. Lisa has over a decade of independent school experience as a teacher, teacher mentor, and school leader. Lisa has been an educator at Milton since 2006, first as a General Studies teacher for Grade 5, and most recently as the Math and Social Studies teacher for Grade 6.
Lisa recently completed a nationally recognized program, “YOU Lead,” a Yeshiva University-School Partnership program designed to develop and advance emerging leaders in Jewish education. She has also completed the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s program, Improving Schools: The Art of Leadership; is an AviChai Fellow focusing on specific elements in our school that can inspire understanding and connection within Judaism; and has served as the Co-Chair of the Association of Independent Maryland and DC School reaccreditation for Milton. In addition, Lisa has been serving the Milton community as a teacher mentor since 2013, through a national mentoring program, the Jewish New Teacher Project.
Previously, Lisa taught Grade 7 at the Booker T. Washington Middle School in Morningside Heights in New York City. She also worked in program development for Middle and High School students through The Constitution Works. Lisa also developed lesson guides for educators to accompany literary selections for elementary and middle school students through her work for educational magazine Baba Ganewz. In addition to her impact as an educator and mentor, she also contributes to the field of education by regularly authoring articles about best practices in education for academic journals.
Lisa received an M.A. in History from the University of Maryland at College Park. She earned her undergraduate degree from Barnard College of Columbia University, graduating summa cum laude in History and Education. While at Barnard, she earned her education certificate for Grades 7 – 12. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa honor society, and the recipient of numerous academic honors including a Senior Fellowship; the Eugene H. Byrne History Prize; the Mary Thomas Elliot Prize for Outstanding Academic Record, Integrity and Citizenship; and the George Wellwood Murray Fellowship for Graduate Study in Humanities and/or Social Studies. Lisa grew up in Long Island, NY, where she attended the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway through high school.
As Director of Student Support Services, Alexis Herschthal works to integrate and manage Milton’s learning support and counseling services for all students who need academic and social-emotional support.
Born and raised in the Washington, DC, area, Alexis Herschthal attended local Jewish day schools through middle school. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and interned at a local public elementary school with at-risk kids while she was there. This troubled school and its wonderful students had a powerful impact, solidifying Alexis’ love of working with children and inspiring her to pursue a career in counseling.
Alexis received a Master of Social Work degree from Catholic University. As a graduate student, she worked at special needs schools in the area. Following the completion of her MSW, she continued working in special education as the lower school counselor at Kingsbury Day School, where she became licensed as a clinical social worker and remained until she was offered the opportunity to come to Milton in 2010. In 2015, Alexis joined the Sibley Group, a private practice in DC, where she works part-time as a child therapist.
Ronit Greenstein joined Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School (then JPDS-NC) in 2013 as the school’s first dedicated communications professional. In her capacity as the Director of Communication, she has partnered with talented professionals and community members on the rebranding of the school, launched a school community blog that features 450 blog posts written over three years, and expanded the school’s social media presence across multiple platforms. Additionally, Ronit is responsible for the school’s print and online publications, video productions, and press outreach.
Ronit began her career at PBS, where she worked on branding and crisis communications for several years. Later at CNN, she handled publicity for 12 public affairs programs and represented 61 correspondents. Her career in media also included overseeing the press and marketing for several Emmy-Award winning documentaries at a subsidiary of Walt Disney International Television; managing publicity for the companion book to the hit TV series Survivor in her capacity as Director of Publicity for a HarperCollins book division; and a role as co-producer of The Response, an independent film that was short-listed for an Academy Award.
She served as AIPAC’s Los Angeles Director, where her background in communications, community building, Israel education, and international affairs enabled her to serve the growing community. Ronit also worked in Jewish education for a decade as an educator and curriculum developer at Washington Hebrew Congregation prior to joining Milton. Ronit studied Hebrew Literature and Middle East History at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, received a B.A. in Communications from the George Washington University, and did graduate work in Anthropology and International Affairs at Columbia University. Both her children are current Milton students.
Miri Ploff joined Milton (then JPDS-NC) in 2001. She taught at the school for 12 years before becoming the Director of Administration in 2013. Miri received her undergraduate degree from Penn State University and completed her student teaching in the United Kingdom. She was born in Larchmont, New York, and spent several of her formative years in Tokyo, Japan.
Joshua Suchoff has been a key member of the Milton Advancement team since 2010 when he joined the school as a Development Associate. In his current role, Josh helps direct the passions and commitments of community members to areas of need within the school.
Josh received a B.A. in Political Communications from The George Washington University and is pursuing a M.S. in Nonprofit Management from Gratz College. He attended Jewish day school from Pre-K through Grade 6, and was involved in other formal and informal Jewish learning opportunities thereafter, including the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Ivry Prozdor High School, MEOR DC’s Jewish Leadership Fellowship, and the Eco-Beit Midrash and Men’s Learning Program at Yeshivat Simchat Shlomo in Jerusalem. In 2015, Josh was chosen to be a Wexner Foundation Field Fellow.
Sindy Udell joined the school as Director of Admission in 2003, when the school enrolled 150 students. Under her leadership and strategic planning, enrollment has more than doubled to over 390 students.
Prior to joining Milton, Sindy worked as an Assistant General Counsel at the United States General Accounting Office, an enforcement attorney at the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, and a litigation partner at Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz in New York City. She served on the school’s Board of Directors from 2001 to 2003 and currently sits on the board of Friends of IDF. She graduated from the State University of New York at Albany with a BA in Marketing and English and a JD from the Benjamin Cardoza School of Law in New York City. Both of her children graduated from Milton (then JPDS-NC).
Steven Wernick became involved in Milton (then JPDS-NC) in 2001, shortly after two of his children enrolled in the school. He quickly joined the team working to ensure the short- and long-term financial stability of the school and support its growth and development. Steven later joined the Board of Trustees and served as Treasurer for eight years. In 2013 Steven re-engaged with Milton to help with the Strategic Plan focusing on financial analysis and modeling. He became a member of the staff in 2014, serving as Controller for three years and then as Director of Finance and Administration, now Chief Business Officer.
Steven attended New Jersey Institute of Technology for Chemical Engineering, but his career has been one of variety, from designing oil refineries and nuclear power plants to managing call centers. He also started a consulting firm that focused on developing and supporting accounting software for a variety of industries including legal, medical, transportation, and nonprofits.