For Yoti Yarhi, becoming head of school at Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Monmouth County was “a natural progression.”
Yarhi said that after serving as acting head of school since March, the transition to the top spot was smooth, “not only for me, but for the school as a community — staff, faculty, students.” Yarhi succeeds Chaya Friedmann, who left the school in June 2008 after 20 years in the position. “Mrs. Friedmann created and left us with a wonderful, thriving school that is now celebrating its 30th anniversary,” said Linda Glickstein, director of admissions and marketing at SSDS.
Yarhi, who was born in Omer, Israel, also served as Judaic studies coordinator at the Marlboro school for the past six years. She received her degrees in Israel, from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Levinsky College of Education. In Israel, Yarhi was an administrator and a math and history teacher at a school for grades seven-12 in a low-income community. In addition to serving as education department head at the school, she mentored staff members who tutored at-risk students.
“Ms. Yarhi is passionately committed to Jewish learning and growth, and we are confident that the school will continue to thrive and grow under her leadership,” said SSDS board vice president Rich Kallman.
Yarhi confirmed that she will focus her efforts on the school’s continued growth and vitality, but, she said, she also shares with other community members the dream of opening a Schechter high school in central New Jersey, with the aim to have SSDS become the “central address for Jewish education in the community.”
Yarhi’s goals for the school — which has over 200 students from more than 25 towns in nursery school through eighth grade — include reevaluating the general and Judaic studies curricula, creating a media center, and continuing on the path of being a “green school” by going paperless and integrating the study of Judaism and ecology.
Another aspect of SSDS Yarhi said she is proud of and is determined to continue is the connection the students feel to Israel. She noted that all the Hebrew teachers at the school are Israeli and said she speaks for the entire staff in declaring, “We carry the love of Israel and the desire to teach in our hearts.”
This connection to Israel, she said, is reinforced during the eighth-grade’s annual trip to Israel. “By the time our students actually go to Israel,” Yarhi said, “they feel like they are going home.”