Our Leadership Team
Jerry D. Isaak-Shapiro
Head of School
Jerry D. Isaak-Shapiro is a graduate of the prestigious two-year Jerusalem Fellowship (2001-03), which offers senior Jewish educators an opportunity to learn with colleagues from North America, Latin America, Europe and Israel, while conducting post-doctoral level research in Jewish education in Jerusalem, Israel.
Prior to moving to Jerusalem, Jerry served as Jewish Education Director at the San Francisco Jewish Community Center; as Northern California Regional Director for Hillel, supervising fifteen Northern California campuses; and as Associate Director for the Jewish Community Relations Committee for the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, during which time he was the community’s media spokesperson and Middle East specialist. During this time he was also the Executive Producer and Host/Moderator of A Jewish Perspective, a talk show seen on San Francisco’s NBC-affiliate channel four.
Jerry received his Masters in International Affairs from The George Washington University and specialized in Middle East history and foreign policy. While in Washington, he also served as Program Director for the U.S.-Japan Economic Agenda, a D.C.-based think tank, and as Chief Researcher for the Washington Bureau of The Chicago Tribune on Israel and the Middle East.
Jerry has been a teacher, prominent lecturer and scholar-in-residence for over twenty five years, specializing in the areas of non-formal education, learning differentiation, Zionist thought and history and Jewish identity. He was one of five national mentor/master teachers in SuLaM, a program of Study, Leadership and Mentoring for current Heads of School, sponsored by RAVSAK (the national community day school organization) and has served as a mentor in the JTS-sponsored DSLTI (Day School Leadership Training Institute). He is currently on the editorial board of HaYidion, RAVSAK’s highly respected educational journal. Jerry has been Head of School of the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School since 2003.
Principal and Director of Judaics and Hebrew
Born in Israel, Leah Spector earned her undergraduate degree in Hearing Impaired Studies from Tel Aviv University in 1991. After moving to Cleveland that same year, she continued her education at the Siegal College of Judaic Studies, earning a Masters Degree in Judaic Studies Education. Her mission became teaching young children about Israel, Hebrew, Tanach and their Jewish identity.
Leah joined Mandel JDS in 1992, and is now responsible for overseeing the development of the educational program, in addition to developing, supervising and evaluating Mandel JDS’s Judaics and Hebrew curricula and evaluating the Judaics division staff. Along with the Head of School, she oversees the implementation of the Strategic Plan. Leah also directly manages and supports the senior educational leadership team, including its professional development. Leah also develops and manages all class and event schedules as well as the master school calendar. Leah utilizes her love and passion for her heritage, country and religion as an educator and administrator at Joseph & Florence Mandel Jewish Day School. Her goals are to develop educated Jewish students who are proud of their identity and will become lifelong active members of the Jewish community.
Halle has been a member of Mandel JDS’s Educational Leadership Team since 2005, and has played a significant role in developing the Lower School’s team of teachers. She’s assumed these responsibilities – and the added duties of the Lower School Coordinator going forward – while she remains committed to and excited by her role as a classroom educator.
Gussie Singer joined the faculty at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School in 2012 as the Director of Intervention Services. Previously, she was the Principal of the Edgewood Community School in San Francisco, CA, a school for students with learning disabilities. Before Gussie was an administrator, she enjoyed being a classroom teacher and a reading specialist, at different grade levels, second grade through high school, at the Edgewood Community School, where she worked for 12 years.
Although Gussie is originally from New York, her family relocated from San Francisco to Northeast Ohio, six years ago, because her husband, David joined the faculty at Kent State University. He is a professor of Geology there, where he teaches and does research studying contaminants in the environment. David has enjoyed participating as a judge in the Mandel JDS middle school science fair for several years. Gussie has two children who are proud Mandel JDS students. Asa, 3, who is in Gan Shoresh and Hannah, 5, who started Kindergarten this year.
Gussie graduated from San Francisco State University with a Masters Degree in Special Education and from Bates College with a Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies and Education. In her free time, Gussie enjoys baking, playing scrabble, making art work and playing in the yard with her kids. Gussie also has a very vibrant lay leadership life at her family’s synagogue, Congregation Shaarey Tikvah.