Ian Ratner, president, Atlanta Jewish Academy
Before the Atlanta Jewish Academy was born last year, there were Yeshiva Atlanta High and Greenfield Hebrew Academy. Before he became the AJA board president, Ratner served as president of the joint GHA-Yeshiva board that planned and executed the merger into AJA.
As a past president of GHA, Ratner had struggled to align the strictly halachic principles of Yeshiva with the more community-oriented GHA. He created a committee to assess the feasibility of merging the schools and concluded that the time was not right.
Years later, another committee reviewed the idea, and a joint board voted in favor of a merger. Soon after, Ratner was asked to be the board’s president.
AJA in June sold the former Yeshiva property in Doraville to the Tapestry School. AJA will lease space there in 2015-16 for the high school. AJA also recently received zoning approval from Sandy Springs for additions to the former GHA site on Northland Drive to make it the school’s sole campus.
Ratner wanted to create a K-12 Jewish day school because of the many benefits. AJA provides students years to become acclimated to the school and affords mobility to faculty members who consider switching disciplines.
The K-12 model has been shown to garner more financial support and community involvement than traditional elementary, middle and high schools.
By leading the creation of Atlanta’s first Jewish K-12 day school, Ratner has made a significant contribution to education and the future of the Jewish community.
“If you can get kids in an environment where they’re excited about their Judaism, they’re more likely to stay in it,” Ratner said.