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Head of School Haas leaving HBHA after 11 years

HBHA Head of School Howard Haas announced last week this will be his last year at the Jewish day school. He is shown with students Shefer Rudnick (from left), Pearl Attias and Lila Singer.

Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy Head of School Howard Haas announced his intention to leave the Jewish day school at the end of the current school year. Michael Abrams, president of HBHA board of trustees, informed parents of this decision in an email Jan. 17.

Abrams told parents the board is thankful for the positive impact Haas has had on HBHA throughout the last 11 years.

“We will certainly miss Howard’s positive attitude and smiling face in the parking lot each morning. Under Howard’s leadership our school has continued to thrive. During his tenure he spearheaded initiatives including the biennial civil rights trip in partnership with University Academy, a push toward increased enrollment resulting in the largest enrollment in a decade and growing HBHA’s alumni network. Howard has also been responsible for assembling and retaining our wonderfully gifted administration and faculty,” Abrams wrote.

HBHA’s board has set in place a transition plan following Haas’ departure. For the 2018-19 school year, an interim leadership team comprised of principals Todd Clauer, Jessica Kyanka-Maggart and Rabbi Avi Weinstein will oversee the day-to-day functions of the school, with board involvement on financial and development affairs.

Pete Levi and former Board Chair Carol Porter will lead the head of school search committee, which will begin its search in August.

Haas plans to return to California, where he served six years as principal of Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School before coming to HBHA in 2007. 

He said it was with mixed emotions that he will wish students and parents “shalom” for the final time on May 25, the scheduled last day of school. He will complete his duties in June.

“My family, children and grandchildren are calling me back to California for the next chapter of my journey,” he said, noting that he’s not retiring. With family in both the San Francisco area and in the Orange County-Los Angeles area, he plans to initially settle in southern California until he determines what his career has in store for him next.

During his tenure at HBHA, which he affectionately calls the Jewel of the Heartland, he said he has worked to create an environment in which students realize their full potential and become courageous Jewish leaders. 

“My heart has grown to love our children and community. As I have always said, thank you for entrusting your children with us and that we would and did treat them as our own. This community is more than special, and I cannot thank you enough for your support and warmth,” he said

Hass added that he will always treasure “the memory of our times shared and will cherish the next few months together.”

“I’m confident that this jewel of a school will continue for many years to come and that our students will continue to know our very special place and responsibility as Jews to make this world a better place.”

On behalf of the board, Abrams said, “We thank Howard for his service to our school and community and wish him much joy and nachas in California.”