April 18, 2024
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Honoring Yavneh Academy’s Quiet Heroes

Rabbi Knapp pays tribute to Lenny back in 2016.

There are a multitude of moving parts when it comes to the day-to-day operations of a school. As the first ones to arrive and the last to leave, Lenny Snow and Wilson Medina are the quiet heroes of Yavneh Academy who play an instrumental role in making sure everything in the school runs smoothly, every single day.

On Motzei Shabbat, January 13, 2024, Yavneh Academy’s 81st Annual Dinner will honor Snow and Medina with the Staff Recognition Award for their years of service to the school, along with Guests of Honor Gali and Tzvi Goodman, and Service Award Recipients Arlene and Jay Shiner.

Rabbi Jonathan Knapp, Yavneh Academy head of school, said, “Lenny and Wilson are part of the Yavneh family. They care deeply about our school, our students, our teachers and our families. There are countless stories, acts of kindness, examples of going the extra mile to help out a teacher or student. They are most deserving honorees!”

Medina and Snow helping with the Lag B’Omer barbecue.

It was 24 years ago when Snow first walked the halls of Yavneh Academy. A relative who worked there brought him in, and from the moment he stepped into the building, he felt comfortable and at home. A year later, Medina joined him, and together, this dynamic duo have become an integral part of the fabric of the school’s community and bona fide members of the Yavneh family.

Snow recalled how he first started going with former Judaic Studies Principal Rabbi Beller, to pick up chickens for the seventh-grade chicken kashering event. “I thought that was very interesting. He told me all about it and explained everything. He taught me about being kosher and how to kasher a chicken.”

In 2016, the school came together for a surprise thank you party. The kids wrote letters and presented Snow with a Miami Dolphins jersey—his favorite team—that had his name on it. For the record, Medina’s favorite sport is baseball and his favorite team is the Boston Red Sox.

Joel Kirschner leads Snow into the gym for the big surprise tribute in 2016.

Indeed, Snow and Medina are loved and beloved. “Everyone there always treats us with respect. They’re all phenomenal,” they said, sharing how Rabbi Knapp and many other faculty members send emails to thank them and acknowledge them for helping with programs and events. “That has such an impact on us, to know that they are thinking about us even long after they are already home.”

When news spread that Snow and Medina were among this year’s honorees, the two began receiving emails from former faculty members congratulating them, and telling them how happy they were for them. “For those people to reach out to us means a lot because they remember us… It makes us feel great… It makes us feel loved.”

Joel Kirschner, former executive director of Yavneh Academy, described a special relationship with Snow and Medina, viewing them as part of his own extended family. “You will not find a more hard-working, more committed maintenance team in any of the schools. They know all the kids and all the kids know them, and they treat everyone with class and dignity. No one puts in longer hours than this maintenance team.”

“They care about those kids,” said Rabbi Penn. “They know them from pre-K through eighth grade and when graduates return, they are welcomed back with a big smile and hello from Lenny and Wilson.”

Snow and Medina treasure their daily morning chats with Rabbi Burstein and look forward to talking sports with Rabbi Penn. (“I’d want Rabbi Penn on my team because he would know what I’m trying to accomplish if we were going to make a play together,” Lenny said.) They love Chanukah and Purim for the fun and festivities that take place, but they are also huge fans of Shabbos. “I know for fact that Lenny loves the song ‘It’s Time to Say Good Shabbos,” said Rabbi Penn. After being at Yavneh for 20 years, he said, they also know “Acheinu” and Hebrew words including “Todah” and “Baruch Hashem.”

Wilson Medina and Lenny Snow.

The two men are also great admirers of the annual eighth grade Holocaust play. “They put so much effort and time into it. It’s amazing.”

“I feel blessed to have Lenny and Wilson on our Yavneh team, “ said Rabbi Burstein. “Both men interact with us warmly and sincerely. They treat me as family and the respect they show to Judaism is inspiring. They are men of faith. But they are also menschen, fine men you can trust and count on.”

Rabbi Ross pointed out how Snow and Medina also provide an education to the kids, a special type of chinuch, about the importance of treating their school environment with respect and appreciating their surroundings. “When you teach them like that, they start thinking like that and start realizing what they’re doing. They become more careful and start cleaning up after themselves and treating the equipment better,” Snow said.

Yavneh parent, alum and former YPAA President Dr. Rachel Jacobs couldn’t agree more, “As a parent volunteer, I always knew we could count on Lenny and Wilson to assist with our YPAA events. They would come in early and stay late, always with a smile.”

“They are quick to jump on any issue within the building, and part of that comes from a deep sense of caring that things should run as smoothly as possible so that our learning and programs can be as effective as can be,” Rabbi Ross added. “It is an honor to be able to work with people as dedicated to the school as are Lenny and Wilson.”

Snow and Medina ended by saying, “Thank you for everything that Yavneh has done for us and our families. We are so happy to be there and honored that they are honoring us at the dinner.”

To donate to the Yavneh Academy’s 81st Annual dinner visit https://yavnehdinner.com/

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