Day schools campaign adds two new staffers

Day schools campaign adds two new staffers

Marla Rottenstreich is on the staff at the Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life, working to improve day school education in the area.
Marla Rottenstreich is on the staff at the Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life, working to improve day school education in the area.

The MetroWest Day School Campaign was launched in 2007 to build endowments and boost academic excellence at the three local day schools. For its scope and focus, the campaign earned recognition from Jewish communities around the country.

Now, living up to its pioneering reputation, the team has added two new staffers. Marcy Frank is the newly named coordinator of day school alumni development, and Marla Rottenstreich is coordinator of MetroWest Day School Endowment Projects.

“Each of these positions is unique in the North American Jewish community, and the fact that they are both here is very special for MetroWest,” said Robert Lichtman, executive director of the Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life.

The Partnership is the education agency created by United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ, which administers the $50 million day school campaign with the Jewish Community Foundation of MetroWest NJ. Both new hires work for the Partnership.

Frank, whose position is funded through a grant from the Avi Chai Foundation, will work with the three area day schools to lead new efforts in alumni relations.

Frank said her goals are to create relationships between alumni and their respective alma maters and to translate these relationships into financial giving — a time-honored technique at colleges. Her responsibilities range from identifying “lost alumni” to cultivating major donors.

Cultivating such relationships, she said, is “an area that day schools have overlooked for a very long time. Alumni should be reached out to, welcomed back, and engaged. I’m glad I’m able to fulfill that role and close the gap.”

Although some day schools around the country do reach out to alumni, “they all need to step up their efforts and make it a priority,” she said.

Rottenstreich is working on enhancing academic excellence and increasing affordability at all three area day schools. She will coordinate collaborative projects among the schools, handle marketing initiatives, manage curricular enhancement, and work on faculty recruitment and retention.

Ensuring the excellence of a day school education resonates for this public school-educated ba’alat teshuva, who grew up in Bridgewater and attended Rutgers University. “I went to top public schools in New Jersey,” she said. “Making the decision to send my kids to day school raises that question mark: In a dual curriculum, can they get a good enough secular education?”

Rottenstreich said she particularly enjoys meeting with representatives from each of the schools to hear where their concerns and needs overlap, knowing she can help them. For example, she said, in response to requests to upgrade their middle school science programs, she created a project with Rutgers University science professors, who helped teachers improve their curricula. “There are lots of cool things happening and I get to coordinate them,” she said.

Rottenstreich, who works part-time at the Partnership, continues to work as marketing coordinator and program director for RAVSAK: The Jewish Community Day School Network, where she has been for seven years. She has also created supplementary curricula and served as an instructor in informal education at the Jewish Community Center in Cherry Hill, and served as education director at The Jewish Center in Princeton.

She joined the Partnership staff in July.

Frank, who started in November, brings to the job 15 years of experience as a communications professional. She managed alumni communications for the auditing giant KPMG and is serving as a communications consultant for the Jewish Educational Center in Elizabeth. She was also an editor and has written for the Associated Press and has written for New York Jewish Week, The Chicago Tribune, and TV Guide.

An avid supporter of day schools, she is an alumnus of a Chicago-area Solomon Schechter school.

The three day schools served by the campaign are the Bohrer-Kaufman Hebrew Academy of Morris County in Randolph, Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy/Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School in Livingston, and Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union in West Orange.

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