Jul 29, 2014
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Rockland Jewish Academy Hires First Principal

Nellie Harris joins the school from Solomon Schechter Westchester

Rockland Jewish Academy Hires First Principal


The Rockland Jewish Academy (RJA), which is in its first year of operation, has hired Nellie Harris as its full-time principal. Harris joins RJA with a background in General Studies and Jewish Education 

The RJA Board of Directors announced Wednesday that hiring a fulltime principal would enable the school to continue its rapid growth.

"As President of RJA I am pleased that we have been able to attract someone with such a professional track record of educational achievement,” said Brenda Lender.  “The addition of Nellie Harris to our staff will simply propel RJA even further in its academic achievement." 

RJA spokesperson Andy Blau said the school opened in September at the Jewish Community Campus in West Nyack with 64 children in pre-K through fifth grade. 

“We are projecting a minimum increase of 14 percent or nine children so that we will have 73 children enrolled for September,” he said. “This matches our planned increase from our original business plan.”

Most recently, Harris was curriculum and instruction director of the Solomon Schechter Upper School in Hartsdale. She was responsible for transforming instruction and professional development. Harris also led the effort to implement Standards for Professional Practice (SPP) based on educational research and the school's strategic plan. She spent five years as a teacher and nine as principal at Schechter Westchester.

During her three decades as a professional educator Harris has held numerous positions as a teacher, teacher educator, curriculum developer and principal at different schools and institutions.

Harris is looking forward to her new leadership role at RJA.

"Collaboratively, we are given the opportunity to set a new and innovative model for a Jewish Day School,” she said. “We must take advantage of our "infancy" to create an innovative, 21st century school; while building on current best practices, we will actively look for creative ways to respond to our community's needs, set high academic standards and seek a sustainable economic paradigm."

Harris received her Bachelor’s Degree in Hebrew Literature from the Hebrew University in Israel and received her Master’s Degree in Jewish Literature from the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Education.  She and her husband, Dr. Robert Harris, a professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary, have two children. 

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