New leadership roles at Hebrew Academy

by | Aug 15, 2014 | Other News

by Dee Dee Becker

Hebrew Academy of Tidewater and the Strelitz Early Childhood Center will experience several new leadership changes and services for the start of the 2014-2015 academic year. Lorna Orleans, Strelitz preschool teacher, assumes the role of preschool director; Laurie Feldman, MSW, joins the school in the newly created position of coordinator of student support services and Rabbi Yitzchak Menda assumes the position of director of Judaic studies.

Lorna Orleans, director, Strelitz Early Childhood Center Preschool
Lorna Orleans received her bachelor’s degree in education from Old Dominion University. She taught high school English for several years and served as the third grade Sunday School teacher at Temple Israel for 12 years. Orleans is also a past HAT parent and has served as a Strelitz preschool four-year-old teacher for the last 15 years.

“Lorna brings many years of teaching experience and an intimate knowledge of our school to the position,” says Rabbi Mordechai Wecker, head of school, “and we are excited to welcome her in her new role as director. She possesses a quiet confidence and a profound dedication to her students and the preschool. We look forward to realizing the preschool program’s continued growth under her direction.”

Orleans has enjoyed her longtime stint as the teacher of four-year-olds and says, “They are beginning to read, expanding their vocabulary and understanding many new learning concepts. It is amazing to watch their little light bulb moments every day, as they grasp the understanding of something different and the world opens up to them in extraordinary ways. They are refreshing, inspiring and make me feel enthusiastic about teaching. While I will miss being in the classroom, I look forward to building upon the preschool’s successful history and partnering with our teachers to provide exceptional new programs and opportunities for our community. The Strelitz preschool is known for offering a well-balanced program that is academically, spiritually, emotionally and socially grounded, and my goal is to strengthen that foundation.”

Laurie Feldman, MSW, coordinator of student support services
No stranger to Hebrew Academy, Laurie Feldman is a HAT parent to two children who are now in high school and college. She has a bachelor’s degree from SUNY at Albany and an MSW from Norfolk State University. As coordinator of student support services, Feldman will head a team that includes school nurse Susan Schwartzman, RN; Jewish Family Service school guidance counselors Debbie Mayer, LCSW and Michelle Fenley, LCSW; Janet Jenkins, general studies director; and preschool director Lorna Orleans.

Feldman says her team “will support teachers and parents by providing early identification and intervention strategies that offer structure and direction to students who may benefit from additional support. Our goal is to nurture and support each student’s individual needs along the growing and changing path of his/her development.” In addition to this team, HAT will also make available the professional services of an occupational therapist and speech pathologist from the Southeastern Therapy for Kids.

Rabbi Yitzchak Menda, director of Judaic Studies
The recreated position of director of Judaic Studies is being filled by Rabbi Yitzchak Menda. He has a bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University and a master’s degree from Touro University California. Rabbi Menda recently served as coordinator of Judaic activities at the Oakland Hebrew Day School in California. Menda will teach a class in Mishnah (the first layer of the Talmud, the authoritative work on Jewish law and tradition), provide enrichment and remediation to students, and render logistical and other support to both teachers and parents.

“I love working with a diverse community,” says Rabbi Menda. “When young Jewish children from different backgrounds come together and study Torah, it’s an amazing experience. It should be fun, exciting and meaningful to each student according to their talents. The sages say ‘I’ve learned more from my students than my teachers.’ I look forward to continuing my own path of learning while furthering each student’s unique learning experience in the coming years.”

On August 25, Hebrew Academy and the Strelitz preschool’s new school year begins. To enroll children, or for more information about the school’s rigorous dual curriculum, contact admissions director, Carin Simon, at 424-4327, or email

Hebrew Academy is a constituent agency of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.