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.
Ms. Jennifer Bernstein (Head of Middle School) devotes her attention to re-imagining and restructuring the Middle School by pursuing more targeted professional development, increasing chesed opportunities for our students, and working with faculty to ensure that the Ramaz mission comes alive for all of our students, educating them to be kind, respectful, responsible, well-adjusted and well-rounded individuals.
A dynamic, thoughtful, and compassionate educator, Ms. Bernstein has been working in the Middle School for seventeen years as a teacher, department chair, director of several major cross-divisional initiatives, and now as Head of Middle School. She is a dedicated and engaging teacher who has passed on a love of learning to countless students during her career, and she espouses a Whole Child educational philosophy, which fosters each child's social, emotional, spiritual, and academic well-being.
Before her tenure at Ramaz, Ms. Bernstein worked at the Hebrew Day School of Ann Arbor, served as an officer of Columbia University in their Urban Policy Center, and as a case manager at the law firm Cravath, Swaine and Moore. She graduated magna cum laude from Barnard College and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Her master's degree in education is from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Rabbi Chaim Hagler (Assistant Head of Middle School) is a passionate educator who is known for working collaboratively with faculty and inspiring students, Rabbi Hagler, Assistant Head of the Middle School, is responsible for overseeing faculty and curriculum in the Judaic Studies departments, supervising student conduct and attendance, hiring and mentoring Judaic Studies faculty, and coordinating special projects and class assignments. With an educational philosophy that centers around teaching a child according to his way, "chanoch lna'ar al pee darko," Rabbi Hagler brings to Ramaz expertise in developing life-long learners, mentoring teachers, developing curriculum, and everything sports!
Prior to joining Ramaz, Rabbi Hagler was Dean of Students at Magen David where he worked closely with students and parents as he oversaw the academic, social, and emotional wellbeing of over 400 students and was a key member of the administrative team. Previously, he worked as Assistant Principal for eight years at Bruriah. He also was Associate Principal for nine years at the Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School.
Rabbi Hagler graduated from Yeshiva University and has a Master's in Education from Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education & Administration at YU. He received his semicha from Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. Rabbi Hagler also completed an intensive training program for day school leadership partnered by YU and Avi Chai. Rabbi Hagler also was Head of Chinuch and Boys Head Counselor at Camps Lavi and Mesorah.