Pressman Academy History

Established in 1986 under the vision and leadership of Rabbi Joel Rembaum, the Rabbi Jacob Pressman Academy was founded with the merging of Temple Beth Am’s Religious School, Temple Beth Am’s Nursery School and Beth Am Academy, the day school of Temple Beth Am, which was established by Rabbi Jacob Pressman, z”l — a strong supporter of day school education. This new school, named for Rabbi Pressman, who became the synagogue’s Rabbi Emeritus, was designed to more effectively serve the day school and supplementary school needs of the Temple Beth Am community. Soon after this restructuring, as a further expression of Rabbi Rembaum’s vision, the Pressman Academy day school developed into an early childhood through 8th grade institution.

Rabbi Rembaum and Dvorah Colker – Temple Beth Am and Pressman Academy’s first Education VP – hired Dr. David “Doc” Ackerman to be the first Educational Director for the Academy. Under his leadership, a new school building opened in spring 1994; the first 8th grade class graduated; and an infectious joy permeated the students and their education. In 1995, Aviva Lebovitz took over as the Educational Director; under her leadership, the school grew to more than 400 students as she hired an exceptional staff, acquired WASC, BJE and NAEYC accreditation, and bolstered the reputation of the school. Under her leadership the school also created a partnership with the Magen School in Tel Aviv, a partnership that celebrated its 20th year in the 2016-17 school year.

With the school now firmly established as a high-quality institution amongst Jewish Day Schools, Aviva retired, and the community hired Rabbi Mitchel Malkus to be the Education Director — a title that would be changed to Head of School. Rabbi Malkus’ tenure saw the acquisition of properties on Corning Street that would lead to the expansion of the school campus, as well as the strengthening of Pressman’s academics. This included the inauguration of its Hebrew immersion program and the introduction of new secular and Judaic studies curricula and of enhanced electronic educational tools. Rabbi Malkus also saw to the expansion of the Academy’s dramatic and fine arts programming. As a result of these developments, enrollment continued to grow to over 500 students. During this time, there was also a decision made to separate the religious school from under the auspices of the Pressman Academy Head of School to allow for each school program to receive the attention it needed. Rabbi Malkus concluded his 12-year tenure as Head of School in 2013, moving across the country to become Head of School at the Charles E Smith Jewish Day School.

Following a year when Rabbi Rembaum came out of retirement to serve as the Interim Head of School, Dr. Erica Rothblum became the Head of School of Pressman Academy in 2014. Under her leadership, the school continues to see growth in enrollment and expansion of the campus as the Capital Campaign comes to a close and construction begins in 2017.