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A Message from Sharon Levin

May 1, 2020 | 7 Iyar 5780

Dear Barrack Family and Community Friends and Colleagues,

As I have contemplated, with mixed emotions, my decision to retire in June 2021, I have allowed myself the luxury of both reflecting back and enthusiastically thinking forward to what I hope will be an exciting new chapter in my life where I can continue my passion to teach and mentor young adults.    

I am so honored to have been given the opportunity to lead a school with an integrated curriculum that fosters an intellectual environment with deeply rooted Jewish values and that continues to inspire generations of Jewish young people to better the world. I am proud of my contributions to growing Akiba-Barrack into a powerhouse of educational excellence, and I am confident that after I leave, this growth trajectory will continue on with the next Head of School.

I love starting every school year, standing in the gym in front of our entire staff and student body, in my head-to-toe newspaper garb, shouting Mah Chadash?! What’s New?! I am so grateful to work with a Board and, most importantly, to lead a team of educators that has allowed the school to grow, thrive and move forward in so many areas. We are truly a school that cultivates in every student the wisdom, courage and kindness to lead lives of significance. 

One of the songs I love and from which I take great inspiration is 'For Good' from the musical Wicked. “I’ve heard it said. That people come into our lives for a reason. Bringing something we must learn. And we are led. To those who help us most to grow. If we let them. And we help them in return...“  It was exactly thirty-four years ago, in the spring, as my family was preparing to move to Philadelphia from the suburbs of Washington, D.C. that I took my daughter for a pre-enrollment visit to what was then Akiba. From that point forward, our lives were changed for good. It was fortuitous that the school needed a teacher with my background to fill in for a sabbatical, and the rest is...history. It has been my greatest honor and pleasure to teach history and government at Akiba/Barrack to over 1,500 students. Today, I can say that I have taught almost every parent of our 76 legacy students. As I moved on to chair the History Department, next to become Coordinator of Humanities, then Academic Dean and now Head of School, my son Jared followed his sister Natanya to our school, and I even had the blessing of working side-by-side with my daughter for four years when she became a teacher in our resource department. From our place within Akiba/Barrack, my husband, Jonathan, and I developed our communal relationships. For myself, I have also had the opportunity to develop close relationships with extraordinary colleagues through the educational organizations with which I have been associated.  

There is still so much to do before June of 2021, as our school will be entering the commemoration of its 75th anniversary the following school year. I will continue to lead the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy with the same vigor and enthusiasm that I brought with me in September of 1986. “Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better? I do believe I have been changed for the better. And because I knew you...Because I knew you... I have been changed for good... “ 

With my deepest gratitude to everyone over the years in the Akiba-Barrack family,

Sharon Levin
Head of School