Meet the Administration

Ms. Jill Kessler
Interim Head of
ECC/ Lower School

Jill Kessler (Interim Head of ECC/Lower School), an experienced school administrator whose educational philosophy centers around the academic, social, and emotional well-being of a child, comes to us from Pardes Jewish Day School (PJDS) in Scottsdale, Arizona, where she was Head of School for 14 years. With nearly three decades in education, she is widely recognized for exhibiting strong leadership and mentoring skills, building a positive school culture, and fostering a sense of community among faculty, parents, and students.

At PJDS, Ms. Kessler built the school's infrastructure, hired and developed a leadership team, improved the quality of the teaching staff, created a culture of continuous improvement through professional development opportunities, advanced 21st century learning through the acquisition of technology, and developed a robust plan for accommodating children with learning challenges. For the past five summers, Ms. Kessler has been very involved with the progressive leadership development series at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education, where she facilitates programming on the latest research on best practices in education. During this program, Ms. Kessler worked together with Jonathan Cannon and they have also partnered on projects for the AVI CHAI Foundation and Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools.

Prior to becoming Head of School at PJDS, Ms. Kessler held other Head of School and teaching positions. She is a frequent presenter at national and local education conferences, such as Prizmah and Arizona Association of Independent Schools, and has published numerous articles on constructive partnerships, leadership, and working with diverse learners. Ms. Kessler received her BA in Dance from New York University, a MA in Education with a focus on diverse learners from University of Phoenix, and a Master's in Child Development from Sarah Lawrence College.

Risa Zayde
Director of Curriculum and Faculty Supervision for General Studies

Risa Zayde (Director of Curriculum and Faculty Supervision for General Studies) works with General Studies teachers in grades 1-4 in the areas of curriculum, instruction and assessment. Ms. Zayde visits classrooms, meets and plans with teachers and works with her administrative colleagues to ensure our adherence to our mission and our creation of a vibrant academic program. Throughout her career, Ms. Zayde has worked as a classroom teacher, a reading teacher, a literacy coach, a headmistress and a director of curriculum and instruction. She has her undergraduate degree from City College and her MA from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Hedva Ofek-Shai
Director of Hebrew Language Curriculum and Faculty Supervision for Judaic Studies

Hedva Ofek-Shai (Director of Curriculum and Faculty Supervision for Judaic Studies) initially joined Ramaz as an assistant first grade teacher before moving into a teaching position in the Learning Center. Hedva has led the amazing change in our Hebrew program over the last several years. She has designed curriculum, worked with every teacher, and visited every class on a regular basis. She has been tireless in her work. As a member of the ECC and Lower School leadership team, Hedva has been an inspiring colleague, with a refreshing straightforward approach to every situation.

Jordan Silvestri
Dean of Students, Lower School

Jordan Silvestri (Dean of Students) is a dynamic, compassionate, and collaborative professional who has one goal: to create a Jewish environment where every child is encouraged, supported, and given the tools to thrive. His passion is rooted in his years as a social worker, coming to Ramaz from the SINAI School at Heichal HaTorah in New Jersey, where he worked with children and young adults with special needs to be productive members in their community.

At Ramaz, Jordan is responsible for creating a values-based culture that is inclusive, spirited, and in accordance with the Ramaz mission. Known as a team player, Jordan partners with teachers to create programming that supports and enhances the academic and social-emotional goals of the classroom.

Prior to joining the SINAI school, Jordan built the youth department at Congregation Ohr HaTorah in Bergenfield, New Jersey, on the premise that every child belongs. As its present Youth Director, Jordan works tirelessly to create experiences that highlight the strength and inner beauty of each child and implements programs where children see that they have an impact on their community and the world around them. Youth in his synagogue find themselves participating in myriad activities, ranging from Shabbat morning groups with children of special needs to girls' Motzei Shabbat learning to holiday-themed HQ games. Jordan also worked at the Ohel's Children's Home and Family Services, where he oversaw the operation of community-based programs with over 150 clients and mentored and supervised over 200 staff members.

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