Rabbi Jonathan Knapp, Head of School
A thoughtful and inspirational leader and educator, Rabbi Knapp has been the principal and head of school at Yavneh Academy since 2006. His visionary approach to Jewish education and his warm and welcoming manner enrich the Yavneh family. Rabbi Knapp previously served as assistant principal of Judaic studies at Yavneh, supervising all aspects of the Judaic studies program, working with the teachers on enhancing the curriculum and monitoring student growth. Before joining the Yavneh family, Rabbi Knapp served as the director of student activities and as director of student affairs at the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy in Livingston, NJ. Rabbi Knapp graduated from Yeshiva University with a bachelor’s degree in economics, and he holds a master’s degree from Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education. He has presented on contemporary topics in Jewish education and moderated at many conferences organized by PEJE, the Orthodox Union and Yeshiva University, among others.
Joel Kirschner, Executive Director
Mr. Kirschner has been the executive director of Yavneh Academy since 1999. His calm and organized approach to Yavneh’s management ensures the financial and logistical success of the school. Mr. Kirschner’s responsibilities include partnering with the board of directors and the finance committee in developing the annual budget, overseeing the school finances, coordinating public relations, and management of our facility. He is also the contact person for tuition assistance and he supervises the Yavneh Business Office. Mr. Kirschner has a master's degree in social work from Hunter College, with a specialization in group work and administration.
Gayle Clachko, Director of Guidance and Student Services
Ms. Gayle is a highly esteemed and beloved source of support and guidance for Yavneh’s students and families. She creates and coordinates programs focusing on character, self-esteem and social skills, and has developed many new and innovative co-curricular and extra-curricular initiatives. Her holistic approach to educating and supporting the whole child ensures that our students’ highest and best abilities can flourish. Ms. Gayle is certified as a teacher, a school social worker and a cognitive behavioral therapist. She holds a master’sdegree in social work from New York University and a bachelor’s degree from Simmons College.
Dr. Sarah Feit, Director of Special Services
Dr. Feit, a Yavneh alumna, has a multi-faceted role at Yavneh Academy. As head of our learning center and inclusion program, Dr. Feit manages, trains and provides guidance to the outstanding general and Judaic studies learning center personnel. She has developed and implemented many new and exciting support and enrichment programs which serve to meet the needs of each learner in the school. In addition, Dr. Feit works with Bergen County Special Services to ensure outside services, including evaluations, speech therapy,occupational therapy and supplemental intervention. Dr. Feit utilizes her superior skills and education and her exciting educational philosophy to enhance the Yavneh experience for students and parents alike. She holds a doctorate in education from Teacher’sCollege/Columbia University in the area of curriculum and teaching with a specialization in early literacy, three master’s degrees from Teacher’s College/Columbia University in the areas of special education, early childhood and reading and a bachelor’s degree in psychologyfrom the University of Pennsylvania.
Judy Friedman, Assistant to the Principals
Ms. Judy lives and breathes Yavneh and has been a valued, warm, and receptive member of the Yavneh administrative team for many years. In her current position, Judy provides assistance and support to the head of school and assistant principals. She is a key member of the recruitment committee who coordinates tours and helps to facilitate the open house. She is also responsible for organizing and supervising field trips, arranging special assemblies, and overseeing bussing. Prior to taking on this role, Judy worked in Yavneh’s early childhood department for 14 years.
Dr. Aliza Frohlich, Director of Guidance, Middle School
Dr. Frohlich is an invaluable resource for our middle school students, parents and teachers. During adolescence, children are changing at a rapid pace, and Dr. Frohlich has developed a guidance program targeted to the specialized needs of the “tween” years. With her “open door” approach, she helps students learn to self-advocate, brainstorm solutions to their problems, and enhance their communication skills. Dr. Frohlich particularly enjoys her role in developing and supervising Yavneh’s unique advisory program—a proactive and interactive weekly social/emotional class which provides our students with life skills geared toward ensuring healthy, resilient adulthood. Dr. Frohlich has a doctorate in school and child clinical psychology from Yeshiva University's Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, a master’s degree and specialist’s certificate in school psychology from Queens College, a master’s degree in Jewish education from Yeshiva University's Azrieli Graduate Institute and a Judaic teaching certification from Michlala Jerusalem College for Women.
Chani Lichtiger, Director of Educational Technology and Curriculum Design
With her many years of experience in education and technology, Mrs. Lichtiger has developed a technology curriculum that has been integrated into each grade level in Judaic and general studies. Her responsibilities include designing and implementing technology in the Pre K-8 classroom and offering professional development workshops to the faculty to ensure fluency in cutting-edge technology and social media applications. She continues to keep Yavneh Academy at the forefront of academic initiatives and educational developments, and is a passionate advocate for engaging learners in a meaningful and dynamic manner. Mrs. Lichtiger holds a master’s degree in education from New York University, bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College, and she is certified in technology education from Bank Street College.
Shani Norman, Early Childhood Director/Assistant Principal, General Studies Grade 1
Morah Shani Norman coordinates and supervises our early childhood department and general studies for grades 1-2. She is a positive, energetic and inspiring force at Yavneh Academy, and a welcome addition to Yavneh’s administration. Morah Shani weaves a commitment to academic excellence and expertise in building on the strengths of each student with a love of education, an engaging personality and boundless enthusiasm. In addition to her day-to-day educational duties, she plays a leading role in recruitment and admissions. Morah Shani previously spent nine years at the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey where she held a similar role and taught first grade. Prior to that, she spent eight years working with children with special needs for the New York City Board of Education. She holds a master’s degree in special education from Queens College and a bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing.
Rabbi Steven Penn, Principal, Judaic Studies, Grades 1-5
Rabbi Penn is responsible for supervising the Judaic studies department in grades 1-5. He oversees curriculum, develops and implements programs focusing on middot, chesed and chagim and leads the ever-popular lower grade “Erev Shabbat assemblies.” Rabbi Penn is always full of ruach, and he energizes students and teachers alike. Rabbi Penn spent his early career teaching talmud, mishnah and chumash in the Yavneh Academy middle school, and returned to Yavneh as assistant principal after serving as assistant headmaster at the Ramaz Lower School in Manhattan. Rabbi Penn also taught at the Yeshiva University High School for Girls. Rabbi Penn holds a master’s degree in Jewish education from the David J. Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and a bachelor’s degree in psychology fromYeshiva University.
Rabbi Dr. Aaron Ross, Assistant Principal, Middle School
Rabbi Dr. Ross oversees our middle school Judaic studies department. During his time at Yavneh Academy, he has taught classes in gemara, mishna, chumash, halacha, and tefilla, and served for five years as the coordinator of our middle school Judaic studies curriculum. Rabbi Dr. Ross has been a driving force in helping to expand our use of alternative forms of student assessment, and he works closely with faculty to integrate technology into their lessons and assignments. He is a visionary in utilizing technology within the Judaic studies department, and he engages and captivates Yavneh’s students and faculty. Rabbi Dr. Ross holds a doctorate degree from Yeshiva University's Azrieli Graduate School, a master’s degree in rabbinic literature from New York University, and a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Pennsylvania.
Barbara Rubin, Associate Principal, General Studies 6-8
Mrs. Rubin works closely with our general studies teachers to develop curriculum and dynamic programming for grades 3-8. She has a deep respect for children and encourages them to maximize their strengths while exploring their interests and talents. Together with a professional and astute faculty, Mrs. Rubin has introduced and implemented many new initiatives in our school including the Debate Team, E2K, and Our Living Legacy. Before coming to Yavneh Academy in 2007, Mrs. Rubin worked at Magen David Yeshivah in Brooklyn for 18 years, initially teaching middle school students and then serving as the Assistant Principal for grades 5 - 8. Mrs. Rubin holds a master's degree of education in curriculum, supervision and planning, and a bachelor's degree in language arts and education from the City College of New York.
Adrienne Shlagbaum, Assistant Principal, General Studies, Grades 2-5
Mrs. Shlagbaum is well known to the Yavneh community as a renowned educator of great distinction. She joined the Yavneh family in 2008 and began to grow her influence at Yavneh first as our lower school math coach and then as the head of our new teacher induction program. Mrs. Shlagbaum’s colleagues have enjoyed learning from her in a multitude of ways, including her engaging staff presentations and encouraging attitude towards professional development. Her approach to curriculum design focuses on increasing student engagement and enhancing student learning through a wide array of teaching strategies and methods. Prior to joining the Yavneh team, Mrs. Shlagbaum taught for seven years at the Netivot HaTorah Day School in Toronto, Canada where she also served as the enrichment coordinator. Additionally, she spent her first years as a lower school classroom teacher at Hebrew Academy of Nassau County in Plainview, NY. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Binghamton University and her master’s degree in Elementary Education from Teachers College Columbia University.