Meet the Administration
Ms. Ruth Gafni
Head of Nursery - Grade 8
Ruth Gafni (Head of Nursery - Grade 8) is a trailblazer in Jewish education and a highly respected visionary leader. Ms. Gafni comes to Ramaz from Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County, where, as Head of School for the past 10 years, she transformed the institution into a nationally recognized model of 21st century education. By creating an environment where children are known, loved, and challenged to reach their highest potential, Ms. Gafni prepares her students to become Jewish leaders in a globalized world through holistic, integrated programming and inquiry-based learning. Ms. Gafni is also widely recognized for her child-centered approach to learning and implementation of the latest and most effective STEAM (Science, Technology Engineering, Art, and Math)-based and other educational strategies.
At Ramaz, Ms. Gafni is responsible for developing and retaining a faculty trained in curriculum integration and methodologies to educate our students in becoming proficient in STEAM, as well as other core areas, including Hebrew, Judaic Studies, Language Arts, and Social Science. She acts as an active part of the student, faculty, and parent community, walking the hallways and being in classrooms to help support and guide teachers and administrators. Ms. Gafni is also developing a social and emotional curriculum that flows from the early childhood years through the end of Middle School and works closely with colleagues in the Upper School to build on those foundations.
Some of Ms. Gafni's notable accomplishments while at Schechter include the introduction of international exchanges with youth in Rwanda, South Africa and Poland; development of a values-based honor code and social-emotional learning across all grade levels; utilization of technology to enhance academic and extracurricular programming; and increased student enrollment by 25 percent. She also led Solomon Schechter to a prestigious accreditation from International Baccalaureate (IB) World School for the Middle School years.
Prior to joining Solomon Schechter, Ms. Gafni was a teacher at Hawes Elementary School, a public school in Ridgewood, New Jersey, where she implemented programs for children with special needs, English as a Second Language students, and gifted students. Ms. Gafni is the recipient of numerous educational leadership awards from Harvard University, The Lookstein Center, and The Avi Chai Think Tank. She is the subject of numerous articles, including those in Thrive Global, Parents League of New York, and the New Jersey Jewish Standard. Ms. Gafni received her Masters of Science in Special Education from Adelphi University and her Bachelor of Science in Special Education and Comparative Literature from Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan.
Director of General Studies, Lower School
Adrienne Laitman (Director of General Studies) has a Master's in Elementary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a Master's in Administration and Supervision from Bank Street College of Education. For the past seven years, she has been the Assistant Principal of Bronxville Elementary School, however, both the Assistant Superintendent and Principal of her school said she functioned as Co-Principal. Ms. Laitman's expertise in curriculum and instruction has led to her presenting at many conferences both locally and nationally. In her capacity as Director of General Studies, Ms. Laitman supports the school-wide implementation of our curriculum, making classroom observations to learn about Ramaz students as learners, mentor teachers, support the values and beliefs at Ramaz, and much more.
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. Ms. Ofek-Shai 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, Ms. Ofek-Shai has been an inspiring colleague, with a refreshing straightforward approach to every situation.
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, Mr. Silvestri is responsible for creating a values-based culture that is inclusive, spirited, and in accordance with the Ramaz mission. Known as a team player, Mr. Silvestri 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, Mr. Silvestri built the youth department at Congregation Ohr HaTorah in Bergenfield, New Jersey, on the premise that every child belongs. As its present Youth Director, Mr. Silvestri 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. Mr. Silvestri 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.