Prizmah’s Leadership Academy Addresses the Needs of the Day School Field

April 30, 2018

Source: eJewish Philanthropy 


Prizmah seeks to strengthen the ecosystem of day school leadership. We believe that schools with strong lay and professional leadership are in a better position to focus on critical strategic issues facing their communities. We believe that when trust is a governing force between lay and professional teams, schools are well equipped to deal with the challenges and opportunities that come their way. We believe that leadership doesn’t have to be lonely and that there are skills, capacities, and dispositions that can be learned. And we believe we can help. We outline here the steps we have taken to accomplish our ambitious goals and the ways in which our vision is evolving as we learn more about the needs of our lay and professional leaders.

This year, we have undertaken two major initial initiatives to strengthen day school leadership: We commissioned a study to inform our work, and we assembled Prizmah’s leadership offerings, both ongoing and newly developed, under the umbrella of our new Leadership Academy.

Prizmah commissioned a report entitled “The Learning Leadership Landscape: Challenges and Opportunities for Jewish Day School Personnel” written by Alex Pomson and Frayda Gonshor Cohen of Rosov Consulting and generously funded by The AVI CHAI Foundation. Through their research, the authors identified four conditions of Jewish day school leadership:

  • It’s hard, high-stakes work.
  • There is a reality of toxic board cultures.
  • Concentrated rather than distributed leadership in schools.
  • “It’s the Wild West out there.” A last, but hardly new challenge for day school leaders is the lack of widespread norms in this system.

Prizmah seeks to address these conditions through our work in the Leadership Academy, by developing a fieldwide understanding of what healthy Jewish day schools look like. The study has been instrumental in reflecting the needs of the field and is informing our next steps. But even as we base our initiatives on our collective experience and the report’s findings, we know that we need to keep learning from the successes and challenges of day school leaders to continue to meet the field’s evolving needs. Over the next year, those conversations will continue as we more fully explore the conditions of leadership. We will be meeting in virtual groups, conducting one-on-one interviews, and facilitating in-person conversations where possible to better understand what is true about the school cultures that enable heads of schools and lay leaders to be successful.

Prizmah envisions all Jewish day schools with an excellent head of school and lay leader working in partnership with one another and equipped to succeed. The Leadership Academy will support, train and connect leaders and emerging leaders through our own programs and services and through partnerships with existing programs in the field. We envision a Leadership Academy that provides support for lay and professional leaders at all points along the spectrum of a leadership journey.

Today’s schools demand a wider range of knowledge and skill than ever before. Leaders need each other and need support, but they also need training. Whether leaders seeking a deep dive into an 18-month program or a three-day boot camp to hone and sharpen their skill set, Prizmah will expand our offerings to engage and teach leaders as they elevate their work.

Read the entire post at eJewish Philanthropy

Updated: May. 09, 2018