Summer Changes: Using Office Space to Meet Our Goals

The new logo over the front door was not the only change returning students and parents noticed last week.  This summer, when the school leadership met to reflect and set priorities for the coming year, we considered how best to use the school’s office spaces, and made some changes as a result.


One thing that has not changed is our commitment to our community’s safety.  Walter Wiggins has returned as our security guard. Walter is placed at Schechter Manhattan by Security USA, the firm we work with to ensure the safety of our building.  When you enter the school lobby, Walter will still ask you to sign in and identify the purpose of your visit. Thank you for cooperating with him to make our community both welcoming and secure.  We have added a comfy couch to the lobby; parents and caregivers waiting for pick up are welcome to relax there.


Up on the main floor, you will find the main office rearranged. Yolina Cuba, Administrative Coordinator, may be at the desk right inside the office door, or she may have greeted you down in the lobby.  Yolina leads most aspects of daily office work and communications, including transportation and dismissal arrangements.


To her right, please say hello to Henri Bonner, Development and Outreach Associate, who joined the Schechter Manhattan team in July.  Henri handles Schechter Manhattan’s email communications, including Daf Yomi, our daily newsletter to parents, and leads Schechter Manhattan’s social media presence.  Henri will also support the work of our development and admissions offices, helping spread the word about our school and attract more families and friends.


Behind the main office desks you will see a door to a conference and meeting space. We’ll use it occasionally for small group or one-on-one work with students, but it will mainly be available for meetings of teaching teams or the many Schechter Manhattan volunteers working on behalf of our school.  Beyond it you will find Eric Blomquist, Director of Development and Operations, in the relocated Development Office. Eric works with the trustees to lead the school’s fundraising efforts, and meets often with volunteer committees.


Back into the hallway, you will see three offices to your right, on the northside of our building.  In the center is the new Office of Admissions, where you can meet Judy Ney, Director of Admissions. Judy joined the Schechter Manhattan team in July and brings years of experience in Jewish day school admissions in the New York area, most recently as the Director of Admissions at Westchester Day School.  Judy leads our admissions and recruitment efforts in partnership with the Outreach Committee, recently convened by the board of trustees to tap our networks and let more and more families know all about Schechter Manhattan. The Admissions Office’s new location, the first thing visitors see when they step out of the stairwell, helps Judy welcome prospective parents, and the Admissions Office sitting area gives visiting families a place to talk with Judy and other Schechter Manhattan ambassadors about how their child and family might fit into our school community.


To the left of the Admissions Office, you can say hi to Gary Pretsfelder, our veteran lead educator. Gary’s office hasn’t moved: his large window gives him a great view of the school hallway, to see the student and faculty comings and goings.  To the right of the Admissions Office is the Learning Specialist office, where special educators, speech and occupational therapists, and other support professionals work with students. This new location, further from the buzz of classes further down the hall, allows for less-distracted work.


The action further down the hall is actually advantageous to the work of other members of the faculty who have moved into offices there.  As you walk down the hallway, you will see that Issac Silberstein, School Counselor, has moved to the office in the middle of the hallway, right across from the classrooms.  This lets him easily see students, pop in and out of classrooms, and attend to the social and emotional needs of students throughout the school.


When you turn left into the small hallway, you will find Deanna Stecker, Coordinator of Learning Support, and Shira Jacobson, Curriculum and Program Coordinator, across from the water fountain.  This space is also centrally located, giving Deanna and Shira quick access to classrooms so that they can support teachers and students in their work of teaching and learning. Their office also has space for a sitting area, where they can meet with teaching teams to plan curriculum and instruction.


All of these changes and moving things around the building took a lot of work this summer.  Thank you to Mike Yarde, Director of Maintenance, for his efforts in preparing the school building for the school year.


To be sure, there is much continuity from previous years as we start this new school year; when I walked through the classrooms this week the buzz of learning and the high levels of student engagement were very familiar.  At the same time, the new office space arrangements and new members of the Schechter Manhattan team reflect our values of self-reflection and improvement, our commitment to making change that will lead to even more positive growth for our students and our school.

Shabbat Shalom

Benjamin Mann
Head of School

Mazal Tov to The Baron Family on the birth of baby girl earlier this week. Mom, Elvera, and baby are doing well. Keinan and David (second grade) are newly minted proud older brothers!