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.
Dr. Sarah Jabbour (Director of Early Childhood) has extensive training in child development, bilingual education, and assessment, with an emphasis on child-centered, joyful learning through play, rich academics, Jewish values, and social-emotional skills. With a PhD in Psychology from St. John’s University, Dr. Jabbour’s clinical research focused on the relationship between the home-school partnership and its impact on children’s behavior and overall social-emotional health. Her educational philosophy is rooted in integrating each child’s individual potential paired with their innate curiosity, sense of discovery, and when intentionally nurtured, a lifelong love of learning. Prior to joining Ramaz, Dr. Jabbour directed the early childhood center program at the Magen David Yeshivah in Brooklyn, New York, and previously served as its school psychologist for two years. She also has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Childhood Education from New York University.
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.