After 12 successful years, Hillel Academy Jewish day school co-principals to retire

When Hillel Academy hired husband and wife Dan and Kathy Mecoli in 2011 as its co-principals in the hopes that they could turn the Jewish day school around, Dan and Kathy agreed they’d try it for three years.

Twelve years later, they’ve more than doubled its enrollment to about full capacity, have brought a project-based learning approach to the school, and successfully integrated Judaics across the secular curriculum.

At the end of March, they announced they’ll retire at the end of this school year.

“When we accepted the leadership of Hillel Academy, we could not have imagined how sweet and rewarding our time here would become,” Dan and Kathy wrote in a letter to the school community.

“Working at Hillel has been one of the most rewarding experiences of our careers. We’ve had the privilege of watching our students grow and thrive, and are proud of all that we have accomplished together with you. That shared commitment to academic excellence, Jewish values, and social responsibility produced beautiful threads woven deeply into the fabric of our work with children. We are confident that those threads will continue to intertwine — strengthening and sustaining Hillel Academy for generations to come.”

Hillel President Andy Schwartz said the Mecolis provided the school with “outstanding academic leadership that has fostered individual growth in an atmosphere of Jewish values.”

He also credited them with empowering older students to guide and teach younger students in prayer and academic subjects, “learning leadership skills that they take with them on their next educational paths.”

Schwartz also announced that while the day school conducts a national search for a new head of school, part-time Hillel teacher Anna Smith will serve as interim head of school for the 2023-24 academic year.

Smith received her doctorate in educational leadership from Northeastern University and a graduate certificate in Jewish education leadership from Hebrew College. She has taught at Hillel since 2019.

Schwartz said that Hillel will soon have details about an event to honor the Mecolis.

— Marshall Weiss

To read the complete May 2023 Dayton Jewish Observer, click here. 

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