Cherished Colleagues Sharing a Dream

Cherished Colleagues Sharing a Dream
By Rob Goldberg and Noa Grant

Father and daughter. Different generations. Distinctive life experiences. Unique worldviews. Yet they share a love of Jewish education and both are immersed in the professional Jewish world. They came to Atlanta with their teams, one from Buffalo and the other from Los Angeles.

Noa Grant is Assistant Principal of Brawerman Elementary School East and her dad, Rob Goldberg, is the CEO of Buffalo’s Jewish Federation, home to two Jewish day schools. Both entered the Prizmah Conference with expectations.

For Noa, it was embracing opportunities for growth in her school, to meet with her You LEAD cohort (Prizmah’s leadership development program that promotes professional growth) and to come home inspired to implement change at Brawerman.

For Rob, it was the opportunity to bring a delegation of leaders from Jewish Buffalo seeking to design a new model of immersive Jewish education (a collaboration between Buffalo’s 60 year-old community day school, Kadimah Academy, and the Park School, one the oldest progressive independent schools in the country). “This was a new experience for me. I’ve been in the Jewish professional world for nearly 40 years, have been an advocate and supporter of Jewish day schools, but never participated in a gathering of this sort.”

Noa left Atlanta brimming with possibility. She discovered new practical ways to design protocols around hiring and retaining exceptional teachers. She loved connecting with her You LEAD colleagues and getting to know new fellow educators. And of course, as with any conference, there are those unexpected moments of reconnection. When Noa was 11 and living in St. Louis (the Goldberg family moved for Rob’s job as Hillel director at Washington University), she met a dynamic campus leader named Emily Cook. Fast forward 24 years to the Prizmah Conference and Noa and Emily (now Dr. Cook, Director of Curriculum and Instruction at the Perelman Jewish Day School in Philadelphia) reconnected in Atlanta and had an amazing conversation. “Emily and I bonded over similar experiences including the challenge of leading two unique campuses under one system,” remarked Noa. “I love my new colleague!”

Rob left Atlanta hopeful, both about the state of the day school movement, but also about the new model that he and his school’s leadership are exploring with Park. “Our team felt validated that we are moving in the right direction. We are dreaming. Thinking boldly and embracing this moment as a lively experiment that will enable our Kadimah students to benefit from all that Park offers along with ensuring they continue to enjoy a serious Jewish education.”

More than anything, Noa and Rob spent quality time with each other “talking shop” and they both beam with pride about the other. “My smile muscles hurt because I was kvelling throughout our time at Prizmah. I know Noa to be an amazing Mom, wife and of course, daughter. But to see how respected she is in her school and throughout the Jewish educational community in LA was so moving for me. One colleague at BJELA (Building Jewish Education) lit up when I told her that I was Noa’s dad!” “And I loved meeting with and talking to the Buffalo team and seeing my Dad in action,” Noa added. “I’ve always admired his big thinking, his ability to embrace change and I’m so proud of how he is helping Kadimah and Park to design this innovative new model.”

Atlanta was a shared experience for both father and daughter. “We loved being travel buddies this week in Atlanta,” Rob said. “From riding the school bus to visit LabAtlanta, going to a session on professional development together, and taking a breather at the hotel bar.” Rob and Noa left the Prizmah Conference still just a dad and his kid. But they also left as cherished colleagues daring to dream and bringing those dreams back to their communities.