Introducing Dr. Dalia Hochman as Gann Academy’s Next Head of School

Dear Gann Community,

The Gann Academy Board of Trustees is thrilled to announce that it has unanimously voted to hire Dr. Dalia Hochman as its next Head of School effective July 1, 2019. Dr. Hochman is a nationally known educator and innovator with deep connections to Boston, to Israel, and to the pluralistic values that animate our school. 

Dr. Hochman is best known for her leadership and strategic advisory work for Summit Learning, the high-profile Silicon Valley charter network funded by The Chan Zuckerberg Education Initiative. She has been involved in projects and roles across the country, from the Wildflower Montessori Schools to the U.S. Department of Education, and has developed a unique perspective and understanding of “what works” at the most well-respected and highly-regarded schools in America. That perspective is extraordinarily aligned with the culture, approach, and aspirations of Gann’s faculty, staff, Senior Leadership Team, and the Board of Trustees. We are enthusiastic about Dr. Hochman’s ability to work with our teachers and senior leadership to further develop Gann as one of the most remarkable high schools in the Boston area.

Previously, Dr. Hochman managed a $40 million portfolio of school innovation grants for Next Generation Learning Challenges, a collaboration of leading philanthropies that includes the Gates, Chan Zuckerberg, Broad, and Dell foundations. While there, Dr. Hochman developed an expertise in the sophisticated pedagogies that are the hallmark of Gann’s educational approach, from personalized and project-based learning to experiential and competency-based learning.
 
Prior to that, Dr. Hochman led the transformation of a Rhode Island public high school, successfully managing extraordinarily complex operational and instructional issues and dramatically raising the school’s graduation rates. Earlier in her career, she was a leader of the Innovation Unit for the Los Angeles Unified School District and has served as Visiting Assistant Professor of Education at Vassar College. Dr. Hochman began her career as a high school history teacher at The Bronx Lab School and The LaGuardia High School for Music & Art and Performing Arts, where she received a Fulbright award for excellence in teaching.
 
In addition to her nationally-known academic leadership, Dr. Hochman has deep connections to Judaism, Torah, and Israel and lives out the pluralistic mission of Gann every day. She graduated from Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston, was a counselor at Ramah Palmer, sends her youngest child to a Chabad Montessori school, and belongs to a Reconstructionist synagogue in Bethesda, MD.
 
A graduate of Yale University, Dr. Hochman holds a PhD in Education Policy, Politics, and Leadership from Columbia University. She also studied at The Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem during a Dorot Fellowship in Israel.
 
Originally from Lexington, Dr. Hochman is married to Dr. David Schidlow, a pediatric cardiologist, and they have three children: Benjamin (9), Gabriel (6), and Eliav (5).
 
Everyone who met Dr. Hochman — the Search Committee, the school’s Senior Leadership Team, trustees, faculty, staff, and students — has been energized by her leadership, track record, humility, and passion for education. Jill Smith, who co-chaired the Search Committee with William Foster, noted, “Her commitment to Jewish pluralism and her excitement about Gann’s mission are palpable, as is her love of learning, of kids, of Israel, and of Judaism.”
 
Currently based outside of Washington, D.C., Dr. Hochman looks forward to re-joining the Boston community and to beginning her work at Gann next summer.
 
We will provide a video welcome from Dr. Hochman in the coming weeks and look forward to inviting the community to meet Dr. Hochman this spring. In the meantime, Dr. Hochman has written an introduction letter to the Gann community below.
 
Our gratitude goes to Gann Search Committee co-chairs Jill Smith and William Foster, as well as the entire Search Committee, for their dedication and hard work.  As always, please send questions and comments to leadership@gannacademy.org.
 
We are grateful for your partnership and are incredibly excited to work with Dr. Hochman as we go from strength to strength.
 
With gratitude,

Scott Cohen
President, Board of Trustees


Dr. Hochman's Letter to the Gann Community


Dear Members of the Gann Academy Community,
 
I am humbled, honored, and excited to join Gann Academy as its third Head of School. Gann has an extraordinary reputation that extends far beyond Boston, and I look forward to supporting and strengthening the vision that Rabbi Daniel Lehmann, Rabbi Marc Baker, and the entire Gann faculty and staff have so beautifully pursued.
 
As a product of the Boston Jewish community and the recipient of a strong Jewish education, I am thrilled to be returning home to invest in the next generation of leaders in our community. I am eager to share my love of Jewish life, my personal connection to Israel, and my respect for pluralism inside and outside of the Gann community. 

As Scott mentioned in the announcement above, I have spent the entirety of my professional career working in education, mostly at the high school level. I have had the good fortune of working with many of the nation’s most innovative and successful academic models, and, as a result, I am able to appreciate how remarkable Gann is as a school. It is rare anywhere in the high school world to walk the halls and witness academic excellence, personal development, intentional religious pluralism, and happy kids. This speaks volumes to the dedication of the teachers and leaders that have built Gann, and I am looking forward to bringing what I know from other educational settings to build on Gann’s excellence. Those of us who choose to work in education are lifelong learners; I am most of all eager to learn with and from all of you.
 
The Talmud perfectly captures my beliefs about teaching and learning. Many of us have heard about the famous rivalry between the schools of Rabbi Hillel and Rabbi Shammai. In the Tractate of Eruvin, a Bat Kol or “heavenly voice” appears to resolve the dispute; the voice announces that “both these and those are the words of the living G-d but the Jewish law is in accordance with the School of Hillel.” The text goes on to explain that members of the School of Hillel were “agreeable and forbearing, showing restraint when affronted, and when they taught the Jewish law, they would state both their own statements and the statements of the School of Shammai.”
 
The teaching in Eruvin is quite relevant today, as we try to make sense of our complex 21st-century lives. And the message for our students — and for ourselves — is profound: When we are open to new opinions, we gain a broader perspective and see complexities that we might have otherwise missed. When we carefully consider opposing views, we allow for the possibility that our own opinions may lack sensitivity, scholarship, or humility. 
 
It has become abundantly clear to me that Gann Academy shares many of the same virtues with the School of Rabbi Hillel. Gann is a place where students are proud of who they are but are also eager to examine, reconsider, and look at the world through multiple lenses. Thanks to the extraordinary talents of Gann’s faculty and staff, students learn how to embrace difference while developing their own proud identities as Jews, as Americans, and as global citizens. Now, more than ever, we need intellectually confident, passionately engaged, ethically responsible graduates who will create a vibrant Jewish future and build a better world where human dignity will flourish. That’s Gann’s mission, and I can’t wait to play a role in helping to further that mission.
 
I am looking forward to beginning what I hope will be a much longer, deeper conversation with each of you when I officially start my position at Gann on July 1, 2019. Until then, I wish you a rich and productive school year.
 
 
L’Shalom,
 
Dr. Dalia Hochman
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