June 23, 2024
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Bi-Cultural Head of School Steps Down After a Decade

At the end of the 2020-21 academic year, Jackie Herman stepped down as Head of School at Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy in Stamford. Herman has been part of the BCHA faculty since January 2008. She started her tenure as a teacher and then was promoted to director of general studies and, finally, head of school in 2011.

Reflecting on the goals she set for herself, Herman stated, “As the head of school I set out to build on the school’s rich history—to bring new energy, vision and excellence in education to both general and Judaic studies, in a very warm, nurturing and safe environment.” Herman believes these goals were accomplished through “being able to rely on the most highly qualified, fantastic staff that was able to deliver an absolutely stellar academic, social and emotional curriculum to our children.”

Herman could not select just one memory at BCHA that stands out in her mind. “There’s so many. There’s just such joy in our school and warmth that is so evident.”

She added, “Being able to do that in a Jewish community school, to bring that high-quality education, the programming, the trips that we do. There are so many things, I wouldn’t be able to give a specific one. Seeing children’s joy and experiencing our teachers’ creative and motivating programs that you want ‘lightbulb’ moments for children and they happened every day.”

As the Jewish community continues to expand, Herman believes BCHA is ready for the challenges of the growing community. “We did merge with the Jewish High School of Connecticut three years ago. We are now a pre-K through 12 school.”

She continued, “We continue to live the mission of the school. We are very unique in that we are a Modern Orthodox Jewish day school but open to any Jewish child that wants a Jewish education. There are many children who are not Orthodox and that’s an amazing, beautiful component of the school, my own children included.” Herman noted, “I think that it’s very important to be able to offer the highest level of education, and be mindful of tuition costs, a challenge for everybody. Making sure that it’s affordable and attainable for everyone is important.”

As for the current challenges in security and the rise in antisemitism, Herman stated that with their proximity to Sandy Hook, BCHA has had an armed guard for many years. “We’ve partnered with the ADL and ‘Stand Up for Israel.’ It’s part of our mission to make sure we educate knowledgeable Jewish young adults to be able to go on to college and articulate what it means to be Jewish in the world today and how important it is to educate others. We really give them practical advice on how to do that. When they walk through the doors at four years old, the love of Israel is from every corner of the building.”

Herman explained that BCHA’s eighth grade trip is a three-week trip to Israel, and their high school juniors and seniors go on March of the Living. “We’re looking forward to having it back this year.”

Herman shared, “We are expanding our support programs for 10 years, putting in place support for children who need it by adding staff to help those students so that we can accommodate as many Jewish children who want to get an education.”

Herman is confident the school is in excellent hands. “We have a great team of administrators and an incredible board. I am going to work with them to ensure a smooth transition.” Herman hopes that “the school should continue on a path of greatness, strength and giving back, and be a destination for families that choose to live in Stamford and have a premier Jewish day school.

Herman and her family will be relocating to Florida. Herman promised, “I will always stay connected to the school. It will always be a priority; my children grew up there and they’ll always hold a special place. We’ll be back to visit, for sure.”

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