Meet our Leadership Team:
Head of School
Jill Kessler is Head of School. In her 14 years at Pardes, Jill has successfully doubled enrollment, moved the school to its present location, and written and received numerous grants. She is responsible for all school operations that include instruction and learning, professional development, accreditation, admissions, development, business, and community relationships. Jill’s greatest love is working with students, faculty, and parents to create a school community that is warm, inclusive, and positive, where each individual is inspired to do his or her best. Jill works closely with the Board of Directors to ensure that the Pardes learning environment reflects the school’s core values and adherence to excellence. Jill served as the Head of the Tesseract School in Paradise Valley, AZ from 1996 – 2002 and served as the Early Childhood Director from 1991 – 1995. During her years at Tesseract, Jill was involved in the opening of Tesseract Too preschool as well as two additional Tesseract K – 8 private schools and one K – 8 charter school. In between her years at Tesseract and Pardes, Jill served for one year as the Dean of External Affairs at All Saints’ Episcopal Day School in Phoenix, AZ responsible for the development office and grant writing.
Jill has been the recipient of grants that sponsored her to attend the Principal’s Center at the graduate school of education at Harvard University for “The Art of Leadership” and “Leadership: An Evolving Vision.” Both opportunities were sponsored by The Avi Chai Foundation in New York. Jill has attended professional development programs through Stanford University, and The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. She was thrilled to be a participant in the third cohort of Project Sulam, run by Ravsak, the community day school network.
Jill has given presentations at several PEJE (Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education) conferences, The Horace Mann School (nursery division) in N.Y., the Kyrene School district, the Arizona Association of Independent Schools conference, Harborside School in San Diego, CA, The Children’s School in La Jolla, CA, Congregation Beth El Early Childhood Center, Congregation Beth Israel Early Childhood Center, Temple Kol Ami Early Childhood Center, The Bureau of Jewish Education Early Childhood Conference, and Temple Chai Early Childhood Center.
Jill is co-president of the board of The Arizona Association of Independent Schools, and has served on the New Way Learning Academy Board of Directors, the Temple Kol Ami Board of Directors, and the Arizona State University Parent Board where she served as the representative for the parent board on the selection committee for the first “Distinguished Presidential Teaching Award” created by ASU President Michael Crow.
Jill has been featured in Today’s Arizona Woman, “National Group Makes Major Impact on the Valley’s Educational Scene, 1998. She has also had articles published in The Phoenix Jewish News, as well asA Jewish Companion to The Source: Twelve Principles of GovernanceThat Power Exceptional Boards,PEJE 2008 and Assessing Parent Satisfaction, Torah at the Center, 2008.
Jill holds a B.A. from New York University, a Master’s in Child Development from Sarah Lawrence College, and a Master’s in Education with a concentration on the Diverse Learner from the University of Phoenix. She has been married to Daniel Kessler for 36 years and is the mother of two young adult children
You can contact Jill at email@example.com
Dean of Students
Tobee Waxenberg is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the school. She prepares and maintains the school schedule, special programming, and events. Tobee oversees the Hineini program and any other programs that are brought on campus to help support our students. She maintains student discipline and supports the teachers in their work with students.
Tobee began her teaching career as a high school debate coach and sociology teacher. Upon moving to Phoenix, she was hired by the Bureau of Jewish Education to establish the Jewish Resource Center. Over the years, Tobee taught at Hebrew High and Temple Solel. Additionally, she was Religious School Principal both at Temple Solel and Temple Kol Ami.
Tobee has been with Pardes since its inception, twenty three years ago. In 2001, Tobee was asked to be Director of the Pardes Middle School, which opened on the campus of Temple Kol Ami.
Tobee and her husband Jim have lived in Phoenix since 1980. They have two children, Andy (Hallie) and Natalie and two grandchildren, Lily and Ella.
You can contact Tobee at firstname.lastname@example.org
Assistant Head of School
Mitch Flatow, Assistant Head of School, provides leadership in curriculum and instruction to kindergarten through eighth grade faculty. Mitch observes, supervises, and helps evaluate the faculty in the development and implementation of curriculum. He is also responsible for many of the day-to-day operations of the school, such as working with a committee on the master schedule, coordinating back to school nights, report cards, standardized testing, STEAM night, etc. His other role for the 2017-18 academic year is eighth grade Algebra teacher. This is his fifth year at Pardes, and he loves the school, its faculty, students and families. Mitch is thrilled to once again coordinate the Elementary and Secondary Math Olympiad competitions. Go Pardes Mathletes!
Mitch is a graduate of Rutgers University with degrees in Math and Spanish, and he is a fluent Spanish speaker. His Masters of Education is from Xavier University in Elementary and Secondary Administration. He has been in Jewish Education almost 30 years and has been a teacher, assistant principal, principal, assistant head of school, and head of school. As the former Principal and Head of School at the King David School, he is happy to be “home.” He first arrived in the Valley of the Sun in 2004, and after four years at the Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School in Palo Alto, CA, Mitch returned to Phoenix in July 2013.
You can contact Mitch at email@example.com
Director of Admissions and Marketing
Bethany Spector is often the first point of contact for families interested in learning about the benefits of a Pardes Education. In her fourth year as Director of Admissions and Marketing, Bethany works with each individual family considering Pardes, guiding them through the steps of the admissions process, answering questions and leading tours. Additionally, Bethany is responsible for all aspects of the school’s marketing efforts.
Bethany joined the Pardes community 12 years ago as a classroom teacher and taught fourth grade at the school for eight years before moving into her current position. Prior to joining the faculty at Pardes, she taught fifth grade at a local Phoenix charter school and sixth grade language arts in the Montgomery County Public School System in Maryland. Before entering the education field, Bethany worked in marketing and event planning for two different non-profit organizations in the Washington, D.C. area.
Bethany earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis and her Master of Arts degree in Education with a focus in elementary education from The Johns Hopkins University. Bethany and her husband Jay are the proud parents of two children, both of whom have attended Pardes since kindergarten. Their daughter is in the seventh grade, and their son is in fourth grade.
You can contact Bethany at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Eran Vaisben
Director of Jewish Life and Learning
Eran Vaisben, Director of Jewish Life and Learning, moved from Israel to the United States in 2001, where his career developed from religious and day school teacher to Assistant Principal. In 2006, Eran earned his Master Degree in Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. He served as the Education Director at Temple Beth El of Stamford, Connecticut from 2006 to 2008 and at Peninsula Temple Sholom of Burlingame, California from 2008 to 2015.
In 2014, Eran completed his doctoral degree in Educational Leadership at The University of California, Davis. He has taught at numerous national conferences and has extensive knowledge and experience in the fields of educational leadership, curriculum development, Jewish learning and educational technology. Eran joined Pardes Day School in the summer of 2015. He lives in Phoenix with his wife Liz and two daughters, the oldest in first grade at Pardes. In his free time, Eran enjoys reading, playing guitar and traveling.
You can contact Eran at email@example.com
Learning Resources Coordinator
Dawn Gutierrez is the Coordinator of Learning Resources at Pardes Jewish Day School. In her role, Dawn works collaboratively with the Learning Resources Team to assist students, grades K-8 who may need academic supports to ensure their success in the classroom. Dawn will be meeting with students, parents, and teachers to create a service learning plan for any student who would benefit from accommodations or adaptations to his/her school work, and/or additional small-group remediation and instruction.
Dawn Gutierrez has been a special educator in Arizona since 1971, working as a teacher and administrator in both public and private schools. She earned her Bachelor in Science degree from Northern Illinois University, with a major in Special Education and Elementary Education, and her Masters in Special Education from the University of Arizona (Go Wildcats!) Over the years, she has attended and presented at countless educational seminars and professional conferences to stay abreast of the latest research and best practices on educating children with learning differences.
After a 27 year career as teacher and Head of School at the New Way Academy, an independent school for students K-12 with learning differences such as dyslexia, speech and language processing deficits, ADHD, anxiety, and Autism Spectrum; Dawn passed on the leadership torch and retired. Working for several years as an educational consultant and tutor, she decided that “retirement” didn’t agree with her and that she missed the excitement and energy of a school community. Dawn began at Pardes two years ago by assisting Jill Kessler with a grant from the Jewish Community Foundation to design an inclusive model for all students who would benefit from learning support at Jewish Day Schools. She also worked directly with the Pardes Kindergarten teachers and children with a focus on early identification and intervention.
In her free time, Dawn is an active community volunteer, serving as the Board Chair for The Family School, a non-profit early education center in central Phoenix that specializes in helping at-risk children and their families. Dawn and her husband, Bob, visit their son and his fiance in Berkeley, California, and enjoy the cool Northern California weather as often as they can.
You can contact Dawn at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chief Financial Officer
Patti Evans, CPA, MHSA, is the Chief Financial Officer for Pardes. She oversees the school's business and financial functions, ensuring that the school's finances are healthy and resilient. She works closely with the Head of School, the Finance Committee and the Board to set a financial plan for each school year, as well as provide in-depth oversight as the school year unfolds. In addition to the annual financial plan and tuition-setting, Patti is responsible for all the financial reporting of the school along with specific financial operations such as accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll and cash management. She is responsible for risk management, special projects such as school relocation and remodeling, and interfaces with outside business professionals as needed. She also administers the school's benefits plans as well as oversees employment, personnel and compensation matters. Patti also serves as the school's Financial Aid Officer and serves on the board of the Jewish Tuition Organization.
Patti has been a CPA for 38 years, graduating with a degree in Accounting from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. Her Master's degree in Health Services Administration is from Arizona State University. She served on the board of Temple Solel as the day school that has ultimately become Pardes was founded, and has remain involved ever since. In her free time, Patti enjoys being with her family (especially her two new grandchildren,) gardening, cooking, reading and hiking.
You can contact Patti at email@example.com
Director of Development
Tami Adelman is responsible for oversight of all Pardes fundraising activities, including the Annual Fund, Pardes Gala, and the Life & Legacy Endowment Program.
Since 1992, Ms. Adelman has served in various capacities throughout the Jewish communities of Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Phoenix. She began as the Director of International, Governmental and Israel Affairs for the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington, and was later promoted to Assistant Director of the Council.
In 1997, she came to the Valley to be Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix. In that position, Ms. Adelman was directly involved in legislative and political advocacy and also served as the agency's liaison to the media.
In 2002, Ms. Adelman returned to her native Baltimore as Executive Vice President of the Baltimore Zionist District, the largest independent Zionist organization in the United States. She came back to the Valley three years later, joining the American Technion Society - Israel Institute of Technology as its Assistant Director, Western Region, for whom she was directly responsible for major gifts fundraising.
Tami Adelman joined Pardes as Development Director in July, 2010.
Outside the Jewish community, Ms. Adelman worked in the United States Congress as a staff assistant for International Affairs. She graduated from Towson State University with a double major in political science and public relations. She lives in Scottsdale with her husband Steve and their daughter Talia, who is in the seventh grade at Pardes.
You can contact Tami at firstname.lastname@example.org
Derek J. Zappa, Athletic Director and Physical Education teacher, oversees all sports functions at Pardes. In addition to teaching physical education to students in grades four through eight, Derek is in charge of special events including the Panther Classic, Middle School Color Wars and Lower School Field Day. Additionally, Derek is an eighth-grade homeroom teacher and the eighth grade Washington D.C. trip coordinator. As Athletic Director, he is responsible for the logistics of each sports team associated with the school. He is responsible for the hiring and mentoring of all coaches, overseeing the Panthers while participating in the Mountain Valley Athletic League, and managing the Physical Education Department.
Derek taught physical education for kindergarten through eighth grade at The TesseracT School in Paradise Valley. In 2000, Derek established the organized sports program at TesseracT and was an active member the Mountain Valley Athletic League. Derek has also taught P.E. at Zuni Elementary School in the Scottsdale Unified School District. He coached a variety of team sports at Phoenix Country Day School and also taught on the Leupp Reservation in Flagstaff in a multiage classroom. While attending Northern Arizona University, he received his degree in education with an emphasis in physical education. He continued to participate on the field and off while playing organized sports and helping others, such as the participants of The Special Olympics.
Derek is starting his eighth year at Pardes and brings a strong passion for athletics, team building, and health education. He looks forward to learning and sharing new ideas and concepts that he can incorporate into lessons and objectives for his physical education program.
Derek and his wife, Emily, live in Ahwatukee. They have two children, Jackson and Maya. In Derek’s free time, he enjoys spending time with his family and training for triathlons.
You can contact Derek at email@example.com