In his second year as the Epstein School’s head of school, David Abusch-Magder, known to the students as Dr. D, said that while many changes are occurring, the constants are the community and the dedication to the students.
“My first year was joyful and warm,” Abusch-Magder said. “It was a year to build relationships and get to know the community. I needed to understand the community and the school before I start assessing what we should do. In many ways that’s still transpiring.”
A number of new staff members have been brought on this year, including Shelly Kalb as the principal of the elementary school, Rabbi Lisa Gelber, Ronit Amihude as the principal of learning, teaching and innovation, and Laura Weiss as the director of recruitment and enrollment.
“Our newly configured senior educational team is fully staffed and energized,” Abusch-Magder said in his back-to-school letter to the community. “This team will work collaboratively to move Epstein forward by building and strengthening our community and program.”
The goal for this year, he said, is to get the team on board and to work together to outline specific goals and move the school to the next level. “We’re looking at the student experience, from 18 months to eighth grade. We have 500 different learners. They’re all going the same direction, but they all take slightly different paths.”
Abusch-Magder said part of his goal in bringing in new staff was to combine different ideas within the community. “Bringing in new blood allows everyone, even people who’ve been here 10 years, to ask, ‘How did you do it where you used to be?’ or ‘I think we could change this.’ ”
Epstein as a whole is working on several major initiatives, among which is a strategic plan that is on track to be published sometime this fall. Abusch-Magder has focused on the strategic plan because it enables him and others to outline goals as well as expectations for the school and the community.
“It shows where we are now, where we are going and how we plan to get there,” he said.
Epstein has begun revitalizing its endowment campaign, which had been dormant for close to a decade. Abusch-Magder pointed to the astounding increases in the costs of education the past quarter-century as creating the need for the campaign.
“I would say that we’re a school full of innovators,” said Abusch-Magder, who, as a former laboratory scientist and a patent holder, knows innovation. “We have new technology, new goals, and we continue exploring what it is that we’re doing and how we can improve it.”