By Stacey Dresner
NORTHAMPTON — Lander~Grinspoon Academy, The Solomon Schechter School of the Pioneer Valley, has named Linda Minoff as its new executive director.
The school has restructured its administrative leadership to include this new position of executive director, a principal and a full-time Judaic studies coordinator.
The team will replace former Head of School Bil Zarch, who has left to become head of the Krieger School in Baltimore, Md. after four years at LGA.
In her new role as executive director Minoff, who comes to LGA from Deerfield Academy, where she served as the director of Planned Giving for six years, will be responsible for the school’s building and grounds, business operations, and development efforts.
She, alongside Marcia Holden, who will be serving as the school’s principal, will make up the professional leadership team of the school. Deborah Bromberg Seltzer will continue as the Judaic Studies Coordinator on a full-time basis.
“We are so excited to welcome Linda back to LGA, this time as executive director,” said Julia Chevan, co-president of the Board of Directors. “Linda will bring energy, skill and a tremendous commitment to our school and to Jewish day school education. She is an absolutely perfect fit for this position.”
This is a homecoming of sorts for Minoff, who was one of the founders of LGA in 1996. “It was an evolution for me,” Minoff recalled of the school’s founding. “Originally when I was approached to join the board I was a practicing attorney at the time and I said I would help them incorporate and get started and during that planning year it became more and more important to me and my family that the school get started and that there be a way to educate our children more deeply in Judaism.”
She and her husband, Keith Minoff, an attorney in Springfield, live in Florence and are members of Congregation B’nai Israel in Northampton. Their three children — Natalya, 22, Amanda, 20, and Jonathan, 14 — are all LGA graduates. Natalya was in the school’s first graduating class.
“I am thrilled to see how the school has evolved from a single class of eight kindergarten students in 1996 to the vibrant elementary school it is today,” Minoff said.
While taking a step back and leaving the board after her children graduated to allow others to become more involved, Minoff said that she remained interested in the success of the school. And after a “parking lot conversation” with departing head of school Bil Zarch, she was encouraged to apply for the executive director position.
“It kind of stuck with me…it just seemed like this would be a new challenge for me, a new opportunity, a way to reconnect with the local Jewish community,” she said.
Minoff said that she and Holden will work together as an administrative team, with each focusing on their own areas in order to help grow the school and make it as strong as possible.
Holden, who has worked at LGA for one year, was hired as general studies director and also taught third grade. She lives in Northampton with her husband, David, and they have two children.
“Marcia is doing everything having to do with curriculum, teachers and students – anything having to do with education,” Minoff said. “What I said to the board is that LGA is in the business of education, so if you really look at that phrase there is the business aspect and the educational aspect, so Marcia is everything education and I am everything business – anything that has to do with the budget, operations, fundraising and development, human resources. I will also be the face of the school to the general Jewish community interacting with the Federation, the Grinspoon Foundation, all the other Jewish institutions and the greater Jewish community, and I’d say, even beyond that, to the greater community of the Valley, because I want to make sure that LGA is out there interacting with as many different constituencies as possible.”
Minoff said that her main goals will be increasing enrollment and fundraising.
“We would like to increase our enrollment. We are now at 94 which we feel very good about, but there is still room and we can still grow more,” she said. “I want to really focus on fundraising and expand our donor base. I want to create more inroads with various organizations that we can partner with for different programming, which would be programming for the kids as well as creating a sense of the importance of this institution in the greater community – to show the value of it to other people, so that is not just about the current kids and their families, but that it is really something that everybody sees as a jewel in the crown of the Jewish community here.”
LGA accepts applications from all families committed to raising Jewish children and is accepting application for grades 1-3, 5, and 6 for fall 2012-13.
For more information visit www.LGASchechter.org