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Veteran Educator to Serve as Incoming SINAI@Ma’ayanot Director

By: Lori Silberman Brauner

Mrs. Ilana Picker has been named the incoming Director of the Rabbi Mark and Linda Karasick Shalem High School at Ma’ayanot High School for Girls in Teaneck. SINAI at Ma’ayanot, a special education high school for girls, provides highly individualized programming and specialized therapeutic services to meet students’ specific needs, utilizing a multi-sensory approach.

Ilana Picker

Mrs. Picker, a head teacher at SINAI who has been working at the school for the past four years, has over 20 years of experience with students, with a focus on differentiated learning. She began her early career as an occupational therapist working in psychiatry at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, and worked in the NJ public school system and at The Shefa School in Manhattan as an OT and reading specialist. Mrs. Picker is formally trained and certified in Orton-Gillingham, a multi-sensory, research-based approach, teaching reading to students with language-based learning disabilities.

Originally from South Africa, Mrs. Picker now lives in Teaneck with her husband and four daughters. She was educated at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Education as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy.

“Throughout the course of my work at SINAI, I have been captivated by the magic of our students. Their ability to see the world with a genuine sense of joyousness, overflowing with excitement and positivity, is something that drew me into the SINAI community and inspires me every day,” said Mrs. Picker. A New York City marathon participant who has trained her students for races, she added, “Each day that I am given the opportunity to work with a student, whether it be training for a 5K run, practicing mindfulness, engaging with seniors in the outside community, or decoding a reading passage is a gift.

“At SINAI we have a saying, ‘some things are hard, but we do hard things.’ Our students truly emulate this sentiment as they take on challenges, stretch themselves, grow, and learn. I truly feel blessed and privileged to be taking a leadership role here at SINAI at Ma’ayanot and can’t wait to see what the 2022-23 school year has in store for us.”

“Mrs. Picker perfectly blends the expertise and experience that we look for in an educational leader along with a calm and positive demeanor,” said SINAI Schools Dean Rabbi Dr. Yisrael Rothwachs. “She is deeply respected by her peers and sought out by many for her guidance.”

SINAI at Ma’ayanot’s current director, Mrs. Sima Kelner, will be moving with her family to Israel this summer. “Sima’s boundless energy and profound positivity have served as the catalyst for both the continued improvement of our school as well as the academic, social, emotional, and spiritual growth of our students,” Rabbi Rothwachs said. “She will be missed.”

SINAI is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.