Thank You and a Fond Farewell to Our Departing Faculty and Staff
July 1, 2021 by
We want to express our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the faculty and staff members who are off to new adventures. Their talent and dedication have enriched the lives of their colleagues, students and the entire school and community. You will be missed and will always be part of the MILTON family! Toda Raba and l’hitraot.
After eight years at MILTON, Orit Arditi will be returning to Israel with her family this summer. Orit has deeply influenced our kindergarten Hebrew and Judaic Studies program and left her mark on each student she taught with her signature calm and loving way. South campus won’t be the same without Orit!
Zahava Bensimon’s service to JPDS and MILTON spanned two decades, most recently as our Judaic Studies Instructional Leader. Her impact in that role, and her immense capacity to support teaching and learning, was deeply influenced by her many years as a Judaic Studies classroom teacher. Her passion for Jewish text is embedded in our curriculum and will continue to be felt long after her time here. Zahava is looking forward to spending time with her growing family and learning for the sake of learning. She is already missed!
Over the last three years, Micaela Collis has been the epitome of a Kindergarten teacher. She brings joy and passion to her teaching, has a mutual adoration society with her students and colleagues, and her energy never flagged. We wish her well on her move to Philadelphia!
Jose Francis is retiring after TWENTY years of service to JPDS and Milton. It is hard to imagine our school community without Jose’s welcoming smile, graciousness and willingness to do whatever is needed to keep our facilities running smoothly. Jose has worked late nights and early mornings on so many different campuses over the years, watching over our students and staff vigilantly and with boundless love. No one deserves more to spend mornings and evenings in his Milton rocking chair which awaits him at his new home in Florida. Milton will not be the same without Jose.
Claire Gunner thought she was just coming to teach a virtual summer yoga session at Milton, but we managed to snag her to spend the pandemic year teaching Pre-K! We are so grateful for the way that Claire stepped in with professionalism and love to teach our youngest students this year. As Claire returns to DCPS for a new and expanded role, we wish her all the best and thank her for sharing her magic with us this year.
Eti Kalter, a key member of our Hebrew team at Milton, has taught here for nine years. Eti has brought her love of the Hebrew language and of Israel to our students for almost a decade and we are so grateful for the connections she has forged with students and staff alike. Now, we wish her all good things as she returns to Israel later this year!
Katy Myerowitz-Vanderhoek was only at Milton for two years, but played so many important roles during that time. After less than a year teaching physical education, she pivoted to teaching online, keeping kids moving during a challenging time. Then, this year, she very naturally stepped into a vital role as a Kindergarten assistant when class sizes were cut in half. We couldn’t have done it without her! Katy begins a program in interior design later this year.
Yesenia Rivas-Wolff’s four years at Milton spanned several buildings and two heads of school. Yesenia graciously managed these transitions, always upbeat, eager to say yes, and miraculously finding a way to make the impossible possible. We wish Yesenia so much mazel as she returns to school full-time in the fall.
Patricia Rusten was key to helping us get through the pandemic era, graciously stepping into a new role as a Kindergarten assistant when we so greatly needed all hands on deck. Patricia’s can-do approach and lovely rapport with the students helped keep everyone happy and calm and we were so grateful for her service.
The Peace Corps’ loss was our temporary gain, as Paul Simpson stayed on for a second year this year and helped us expand our teaching team in second grade. Paul stepped in organically to provide essential support in math and General Studies. He will be missed in second grade!
Dafna Spear served two stints at JPDS and Milton (totaling nine years), originally as a classroom teacher and then returning more recently to serve as our General Studies Instructional Leader, overseeing our Elementary School General Studies curriculum and working closely with our teachers. Dafna was always early to arrive and often among the last ones to leave, managing everything from the math manipulatives to troubleshooting pedagogic issues with veteran and new teachers alike. We have been so grateful for both her work ethic and her expertise, and her capacity to shepherd teachers through trying times and always ensure they felt heard and held. Dafna is finally slowing down a bit and is preparing to focus more on her family and interests such as painting later this summer, but only after she graciously spends July handing off the reins!
Dalia Sumner stepped in this year exclusively to support our youngest virtual-only students as their classmates returned to in-person learning. This critical role allowed this group of students to feel part of the community and to have full access to the curriculum despite having to learn from home. We will forever be grateful to Dalia for holding these students – and their families – through a challenging time with positivity and passion for her subject.
And finally, thank you also to our wonderful Milton Mentors who are departing: Jonah Antonelli, William Canellakis, Eli Davis, Mira Diamond-Berman, Maya Dunbar, Emily Einhorn, Jacob Forman, Derrick Holt, KJ Moran, and Eliana Nicolson! It is not an overstatement to say that we could not have run our small cohorts this year without the mentors coming in to help. They brought their unique gifts and talents to enrich our program. Thank you for teaching classes like PE, graphic design, and performing arts to enrich our program. Thank you for your flexibility as you became outdoor educators, bus aides to Bretton Woods, children’s guides and comforters, educational coaches, Judaic Studies conversation facilitators, math support providers, writing gurus, and perhaps most amazingly, people who can seamlessly be in three places at the very same time.