Tannenbaum to lead PJA
By DEBORAH MOON
article created on: 2009-05-01T00:00:00
Portland Jewish Academy has hired, as its new leader, a veteran educator with 30 plus years experience in public schools as a teacher, principal and deputy superintendent of the West Linn-Wilsonville School District.
Effective July 1, Dr. Michael Tannenbaum will be head of school for PJA, a preschool through eighth-grade Jewish day school of 340 students, succeeding Patricia Schwartz, who is moving out of state with her family.
Lisa D. Horowitz, chief executive officer of PJA, announced the appointment in a press release stating: “Mike is passionate about working with students and teachers and
about instilling values and character along with an excellent education. He has been an integral part of Portland’s Jewish community and West Linn’s educational community for many years. We are thrilled to have the depth and breadth of his experience for PJA.”
Tannenbaum holds a doctorate in education from the University of Oregon (curriculum and supervision), a master of arts in education from Northeastern University in Boston and a bachelor of science in psychology from McGill University in Montreal. He holds many licensures and certifications, including superintendent, principal and teacher.
Currently he is the principal of Art Tech High School in West Linn, a school he established as a charter school that has since become part of the West Linn-Wilsonville School District.
In addition to his work in the West Linn school district, Tannenbaum is an adjunct professor of educational leadership at Lewis and Clark College Graduate School of Education and Counseling. He previously was an assistant professor at the University of Oregon Department of Curriculum and Instruction.
Tannenbaum, who helped write the curriculum for the former PJA High School, said that initially Horowitz contacted him to request his help on the search committee for a new head of school.
Tannenbaum said in his conversations with Horowitz, he realized the position “felt right for me.”
He said that his increasing involvement in the Jewish community over the past five years coupled with the work he has done on educating the whole child and ethically based education at the Art Tech school over the same time period made moving to PJA good timing.
Though his family has belonged to Beth Israel for about 30 years, Tannenbaum said for most of that time his wife Carol, who passed away from cancer last summer, was the primary volunteer in the Jewish community. She was president of the congregation’s sisterhood and served on the Temple board.
But for the past five years, Tannenbaum said as part of his personal spiritual journey he has expanded his own involvement in the Jewish community. Initially, he said, his interest in education lead him to serve on several scholarship committees at the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation, where he now serves on the board. He also serves as a youth mentor to high school students on the Oregon Jewish Community Youth Foundation board. And he serves on the new board of managers of the Jewish Review.
Tannenbaum’s personal commitment to community service also includes volunteering for the past four years with Jewish Inmates’ Services at Coffee Creek Women’s Correctional Facility.
Most recently, he co-chaired the Pacific Northwest Regional Biennial held at Congregation Beth Israel in conjunction with that congregation’s 150th anniversary. Tannenbaum said that when his three now adult children attended religious school at Beth Israel, it “had a profound effect on their Jewish identity … and provided a framework of Jewish values to do the ethical thing.”
He said his children’s experiences helped convince him of the value of Jewish education.
“PJA is helping kids to become the best students they can be and also become the best people they can be,” he said. “That is so well supported in Jewish education.”
Tannenbaum said that initially, “I need to listen and honor the past and best support the work of the teachers.”
He also plans to draw on his interpersonal skills and his more than 30 years experience as an educator to take PJA through a visioning experience.
“It is a Jewish day school with quite a spectrum of people who come to PJA,” he said. “Visioning is a way to find common ground and set a vision to involve the whole community. When you go through the process, vision themes help identify what the community values the most and gives direction to where the school is going in the future.”
Located in Southwest Portland on the Mittleman Jewish Community Center campus, PJA’s elementary and middle schools are International Baccalaureate candidate schools. PJA is accredited by the Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools, and the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools. Founded in 1961, PJA has long been a center of Jewish learning and experience in Portland.