Veteran educator Ilana Picker has been named the incoming director of the Rabbi Mark and Linda Karasick Shalem High School at Ma’ayanot High School for Girls in Teaneck. Sinai@Ma’ayanot, a special education high school for girls, uses a multisensory approach to provide highly individualized programming and specialized therapeutic services to meet students’ specific needs.
Ms. Picker, a head teacher at Sinai who has been working at the school for the last four years, has more than 20 years of experience with students, with a focus on differentiated learning. She began her career as an occupational at the New York State Psychiatric Institute; she also worked as an occupational therapist and reading specialist in the New Jersey public school system and at the Shefa School in Manhattan. She is formally trained and certified in Orton-Gillingham, a multisensory, research-based approach to teach reading to students with language-based learning disabilities.
Ms. Picker, who is from South Africa, lives in Teaneck with her husband and their four daughters. She was educated at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education as well as a bachelor of science degree in occupational therapy.
“Throughout the course of my work at Sinai, I have been captivated by the magic of our students,” Ms. Picker said. “Their ability to see the world with a genuine sense of joyousness, overflowing with excitement and positivity, is something that drew me into the Sinai community and inspires me every day.” She’s run in the New York City marathon and trained her students for races, so, “each day that I am given the opportunity to work with a student, whether it be training for a 5K run, practicing mindfulness, engaging with seniors in the outside community, or decoding a reading passage, is a gift,” she continued. “At Sinai we have a saying, ‘some things are hard, but we do hard things.’ Our students truly emulate this sentiment as they take on challenges, stretch themselves, grow, and learn.
“I truly feel blessed and privileged to be taking a leadership role here at Sinai at Ma’ayanot, and can’t wait to see what the 2022-23 school year has in store for us.”
Rabbi Dr. Yisrael Rothwachs, dean of the Sinai Schools, said, “Mrs. Picker perfectly blends the expertise and experience that we look for in an educational leader along with a calm and positive demeanor. She is deeply respected by her peers and sought out by many for her guidance.”
Sinai@Ma’ayanot’s current director, Sima Kelner, will move to Israel with her family this summer. “Sima’s boundless energy and profound positivity have served as the catalyst for both the continued improvement of our school as well as the academic, social, emotional, and spiritual growth of our students,” Rabbi Rothwachs said. “She will be missed.”
SINAI is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.