July 17, 2024
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Ilana Picker Is New Director of SINAI Shalem High School at Ma’ayanot

Ilana Picker is the new director of SINAI’s Rabbi Mark and Linda Karasick Shalem High School at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls in Teaneck. SINAI at Ma’ayanot, a special education school for girls ages 14-21, serves students with a range of challenges, including developmental, cognitive and complex learning disabilities.

Picker, who has been working as a head teacher at SINAI at Ma’ayanot for the past four years, has over 20 years of experience with students, with a focus on differentiated learning. She began her early career as an occupational therapist (OT) working in psychiatry at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Afterward, she worked in the New Jersey public school system and at the Shefa School in Manhattan as an OT and reading specialist. Picker is formally trained and certified in Orton-Gillingham, a multi-sensory, research-based approach, teaching reading to students with language-based learning disabilities.

Originally from South Africa, Picker now lives in Teaneck with her husband and four daughters. She was educated at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in occupational therapy. She earned post-graduate teachers’ certification in Orton-Gillingham from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

“We can stretch these students in an unlimited way,” said Picker, who in her time at the school has focused on making education relevant to her students’ lives. Over the past few years she incorporated new initiatives into the curriculum, encouraging her students to run 5K races, organize a bake sale to benefit Ukrainian refugees and engage in chesed activities with local seniors. “There is so much we can do.”

Picker’s appointment comes at a time when enrollment at SINAI at Ma’ayanot has nearly doubled, providing opportunities for increased collaboration with students at its partner school, Ma’ayanot.

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