High School Principal

Start Date: July 1, 2021


Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (CESJDS) is widely recognized as one of the leading Jewish day schools in the country. Situated in the attractive area of Rockville, MD in suburban Washington D.C., CESJDS has long been known for both the overall quality of its academic program, as well as instilling in generations of children knowledge and love of their Jewish heritage, values, customs, and culture.

The school enrolls 920 students on two campuses. The Upper School campus houses both the Middle School and the High School. The High School (grades 9-12) has approximately 345 students, 40 full-time faculty, another 15 faculty shared with the Middle School, and 10 staff members. The High School Principal leads the entire high school and is the senior administrator on the Upper School campus. A complete position description follows.

The High School Principal position at CESJDS is clearly one of the choice leadership positions in the Jewish day school world. It is larger and has more scope and responsibility than the head of many smaller schools. The academic, student-support, and administrative staffs of the High School are strong and effective in their positions. The Principal is part of a dynamic team leading a successful and thriving school.

The position begins July 1, 2021. Application information can be found at the end of this document.


Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School delivers an exemplary and inspiring general and Jewish education.


To ensure a vibrant Jewish future.


The growth of confident, compassionate thinkers who engage the world through Jewish values.

Fast Facts

Founded: 1965

Total students JK-12: 913

Students in the High School: 345

High School faculty: 55

Total faculty with advanced degrees: 81%

Student/teacher ratio: 8:1

Tuition assistance budget: $6.2M

The School

Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (CESJDS) is the only pluralistic Junior Kindergarten-Grade 12 community school in the Washington, D.C. area, and one of only a few in the United States. It is a welcoming, inclusive community united by shared Jewish values, and embraces a wide spectrum of Jewish backgrounds, beliefs, and practices. A comprehensive dual-curriculum invokes deep and critical thinking, and students are guided by dedicated and gifted faculty. The school prepares students well for college while fostering deep learning and the development of core 21st-century skills.

As a pluralistic community, CESJDS has a pervasive, abiding respect for diversity and actively explores differences with tolerance and understanding. Students here develop a passionate desire for active engagement and individual/collective commitment to repair the world and make it more compassionate, just, and peaceful.

The commitment to the Jewish values is evident through daily, weekly, and annual practices. At the Upper School (grades 6-12) level, each day students participate in Zman Kodesh (sacred time), dedicated to starting the day in a spiritual way. Every Friday, the Upper School holds Kabbalat Shabbat (accepting Shabbat), a 20-minute program where the entire Upper School gathers for a Dvar Torah, a presentation, and a talent performance from students. Starting in eighth grade, each grade spends one Shabbat together on their annual Shabbaton. Students travel off campus to see new sites and bond in ways they cannot during the school day.

As outlined in the recent strategic plan, CESJDS intends to build on its strong history by focusing on the evolving needs of the Jewish community, taking advantage of new and innovative forms of education, and making sure that the school remains financially sustainable.

The High School

In the High School (grades 9-12), rigorous study in the classroom is infused with creativity, joy, and relevance, while activities outside the classroom are characterized by learning, vibrancy, and hands-on engagement. Students develop close connections with the faculty, enabling them to develop confidence as students, artists, and athletes.

Led by a highly dedicated and personable faculty, the High School academic experience is rigorous, student-centered, and infused with Jewish traditions and values. Students study the arts, English, math, science, Hebrew language, Jewish texts, world and Jewish history, and Spanish or Arabic — all within the framework of an integrated curriculum. While preparing students for the 21st century, the curriculum gives students the tools and skills they will need to be successful in a changing world.

Students are particularly encouraged to develop the ability to move beyond preconceived notions through consideration of multiple perspectives, to think critically, to tolerate ambiguity, and to acknowledge and appreciate ethical concerns. The core education is enhanced by the deliberate use of Washington, D.C. as an extended classroom — through field trips, guest speakers, and internships.

Seniors graduate in February and spend the next three months of the academic year on a capstone journey to Israel and Eastern Europe. This capstone event is designed to bring Jewish education to life for each graduate. As a result, it's among the most lasting memories students have of their high school experience.

High School students may participate in a wide array of extracurricular activities — including athletics, student government, publications, 25 student-run clubs, and community service. The school offers 12 sports with 33 teams competing at middle school, junior varsity, and varsity levels. Teams compete in the Potomac Valley Athletic Conference (PVAC), a group of independent schools in the Washington Metro area for interscholastic athletics. All students must complete 80 hours of community service by graduation.

Graduates of CESJDS are independent, creative, and critical thinkers; knowledgeable, engaged, and passionate Jews; effective communicators; thoughtful and reflective collaborators; ethical, responsible, and compassionate global citizens; and focused and resilient individuals. Read the full Portrait of a CESJDS Graduate.

College Matriculation

Students from the Class of 2020 will attend the following colleges and universities:

American University

Brandeis University

Case Western Reserve University

College of Charleston

Columbia University

Cornell College

Elon University

Emory University

George Mason University

George Washington University

Harvard University

Hofstra University

Indiana University – Bloomington

James Madison University

Johns Hopkins University

Lafayette College

Lehigh University

Montgomery College

Muhlenberg College

New York University

Northwestern University

Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University

Pratt Institute

Rice University

School of Visual Arts

Syracuse University

The Ohio State University

The University of Alabama

The University of Arizona

Tulane University

University of Central Florida

University of Chicago

University of Colorado, Boulder

University of Maryland

University of Miami

University of Michigan

University of Pittsburgh

University of Virginia

Ursinus College

Vanderbilt University

Washington University in St. Louis

William and Mary

Yeshiva University (Stern College for Women)


The Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School is divided into two campuses — one for the Lower School (grades K-5) and another for the Upper School (grades 6-12). The Annette M. and Theodore N. Lerner Family Upper School Campus, opened in 1999, is located on Hunters Lane in Rockville, MD, 10 miles north of Washington, D.C. This state-of-the-art, 100,000-sq.-foot-building is located on an 18.5-acre campus near Rock Creek Park. The expansive building includes classrooms, art studios, library, gymnasium, cafeteria, auditorium, offices, and more. The center hallway is bracketed by arches modeled on the archways in the ancient Jewish Quarter of Byzantine Jerusalem.

Rockville, Maryland

Rockville is a small city that serves as the county seat for Montgomery County, Maryland. With a population of around 65,000, it sits just outside the Washington, D.C. Beltway, and is part of the Interstate 270 Technology Corridor, home to numerous software and biotech companies as well as several federal government institutions.

In all, this is a vibrant community sought after for the quality of life and ranked high on various lists of best places to live in the nation. Nearly every home in Rockville is located within a short walk to a city park, and with more than 1,000 acres of parkland there's a range of recreational options available year-round. More than 50 shops, restaurants, and unique stores draw crowds to Rockville's Town Square.

Of course, a major attraction of the city is its access to Washington, D.C., and all that the nation's capital has to offer.

Duties and Responsibilities

The High School Principal is part of the leadership team of CESJDS. The High School Principal reports directly to and is supervised and evaluated by the Head of School. As an educational leader at CESJDS, the Principal is expected to role model, promote professional practices, and embody the values and mission of the school within the context of a pluralistic Jewish community.

Leadership and Education

  • Supervise the daily operations of the High School (grades 9-12).
  • Work collaboratively with the school-wide leadership and the Middle School Principal and Lower School Principal to envision and implement, based upon research and best practice, an innovative and rigorous academic and co-curricular program.
  • Oversee all curricula and instruction through collaboration with the Department Chairs and Academic Dean.
  • Participate in the recruitment, hiring, training, assignment, supervision, and evaluation of High School teachers in all disciplines, including guidance staff.
  • Supervise and evaluate Upper School administrators and meet regularly with them to discuss their program areas: The Dean of Academics, Dean of Students, Director of College Guidance, Athletic Director, and Director of Jewish Life report to the High School Principal.
  • Ensure that the High School program meets the needs of a diverse array of learners.
  • Partner with Director of College Guidance in overseeing the college application process.
  • Partner with the Dean of Academics to oversee the Academic Council.
  • Partner with the Director of Instructional Technology to plan Upper School professional development and other technology-related programming.
  • Actively partner with the Admissions department in the recruitment and retention of students.
  • Actively partner with the Director of Marketing and Communications in marketing the school and its programs to the wider community.
  • Oversee all aspects of High School student discipline.
  • Work together with the administration and faculty to ensure consistency in setting, managing, and monitoring the K-12 curriculum and expectations for academic achievement and social and emotional development.
  • Lead a program in which Jewish values and traditions are infused throughout the High School experience.
  • Foster an atmosphere of creativity, collaboration, and innovation among the High School students and faculty.
  • Provide leadership in ensuring that technology is integrated into the learning experience.
  • Work collaboratively with other administrators to oversee the Upper School co-curricular program in athletics, the arts, community service, and clubs.
  • Oversee Upper School professional development.

Administration and Communication

  • Set agenda for and run weekly meetings of the Upper School Administrative Team in conjunction with the Middle School Principal.
  • Work collaboratively with the Middle School Principal to facilitate a smooth transition for students from the Middle School to the High School; in particular, ensure seamless coordination of curriculum and academic advising.
  • Take an active role in the recruitment, admission, and retention of students.
  • Partner with the Director of Upper School Admissions and the Director of Enrollment in planning and executing programs for the recruitment and retention of students, including direct consultation with families.
  • Oversee High School budget and be involved in budget planning.
  • Be active in marketing the school and its programs to the wider community.
  • Maintain visibility and accessibility on the Upper School campus and at school-related activities and events.
  • Maintain on-going communication with faculty, students, and parents.
  • Participate in the development of the academic year calendar with the school-wide Leadership Team and the Upper School Administrative Team.
  • Monitor, evaluate, and recommend/set Upper School specific policies.
  • Coordinate the High School schedule in conjunction with the Middle School Principal.
  • Coordinate, organize, and lead Upper School/High School faculty meetings.
  • Participate in weekly school-wide Leadership Team meetings.
  • Coordinate and review the issuance of all High School progress reports, report cards, discipline, and detention notes.
  • Oversee graduation and siyum through partnering with the Dean of Students who has responsibility for these ceremonies.
  • Partner with the Director of Development on fundraising activities.
  • Work with the Publications Director on issues pertaining to Lion's Tale, Dimensions, and other publications.
  • Keep Head of School apprised of all Upper School activities and parent contact with teachers and High School Principal.
  • Write articles for the school newsletter and other school publications as needed.
  • Other duties as assigned by the Head of School.

Campus and Facilities

  • Serve as Upper School campus head.
  • Serve as the decision-maker on Upper School campus issues of facilities, safety, and security.
  • Coordinate school-wide campus responses with the Head of School.
  • Partner with school-wide staff on matters pertaining to Upper School facilities, safety, and security.
  • Collaborate with the Middle School Principal on campus facilities, safety, and security.
  • Communicate with students, faculty, parents, and school leadership about any Upper School facilities, safety, and security issues.

Desired Qualities and Qualifications

The successful candidate will have school leadership experience and will be an individual who:

Possesses an MA or other advanced degree in education, Jewish education, or related field.

Has 5+ years of administrative experience at the high school level.

Has both teaching and administrative experience.

Is an articulate and adept communicator and listener in both one-on-one and group settings.

Is able to lead and navigate well in a pluralistic Jewish learning community.

Is highly organized and detail oriented.

Is intellectually curious and an individual who inspires confidence.

Enjoys working in a school environment with students, faculty, and parents.

Is knowledgeable about best practices in teaching and learning.

Is willing and able to engage in difficult conversations.

Is committed to the mission of the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School.

Is comfortable soliciting input from others but who is also able to guide a process and make a decision.

Leads with a sense of humor and compassion.

Is able to articulate a clear vision for the High school and coalesce and inspire students, parents, faculty, and staff to work collaboratively toward realizing that vision.

Can be an effective leader of those who report to the Principal but is also close enough to operations and details to be a knowledgeable and accessible guide to all within the High School.

Is knowledgeable of and committed to assuring an excellent educational experience for the full range of students, including those with accelerated learning needs as well as those requiring learning support.

To Apply

Interested and qualified candidates should submit electronically in one email and as separate documents (preferably PDFs) the following materials:

A cover letter expressing their interest in this particular position;

A current résumé;

A one-page statement of experience with and philosophy of pluralistic Jewish high school education;

A list of five professional references with name, phone number, and email address of each (references will not be contacted without the candidate's permission) to:

Skip Kotkins

Senior Consultant