Academy Administration

Rabbi Binyamin Krauss (AC’84), Principal

Rabbi Binyamin Krauss has served as the Principal of SAR Academy since 2005. He has a degree in Philosophy from Yeshiva University and received Rabbinic Ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He served as Vice President of The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation from 1999-2005. Based in Germany, Rabbi Krauss established schools and other educational programs for Jewish students in Eastern and Central Europe, including the Lauder Morijah School in Cologne, Germany, and the Lauder School in Zagreb, Croatia. He served as professor of Talmud at the University of Heidelberg. Rabbi Krauss also serves on the Board of the Van Cortlandt Park Alliance.

Alana Rifkin Gelnick, Associate Principal, ELC

Since taking the position as Director of the ELC, Alana has continued the longstanding legacy of the ELC by infusing it with a loving and nurturing Jewish environment while also embracing a play-based model for educating and growing its children. Under Alana’s leadership, the ELC has undergone a significant aesthetic improvement with the construction of the ELC’s state-of-the-art new building that was designed to perfectly incorporate all of the progressive ideals that underscore the ELC’s vision. Now with the physical attributes of the building matching its unique essence, the ELC is ready to take this one-of-a-kind program to new heights. Alana has been the ELC Director for 7 years after spending several years teaching and as a reading specialist at SAR Academy. Alana earned her Masters from Bank Street College of Education with a focus in Literacy and General Education. Throughout her career, Alana has participated in Professional Development programs like the Paradigm Project and ELAI (Educational Leadership Advancement Initiative). A married mother of three, Alana resides in Great Neck, NY.

Sharon Richter, Associate Principal, Judaic Studies Grades 1-5,

Sharon Richter (Morah Sarah) has been the Lower School Associate Principal of Judaic Studies since 2005. She began her career at SAR in 1986 as a Judaic Studies teacher after receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Judaic Studies from Yeshiva University. Sarah is committed to building a community of shared leadership and reflective practitioners and believes that a nurturing environment, explicit instruction and hard work enables each student and teacher to reach great heights. Sarah is passionate about immersing students in an Ivrit b’Ivrit environment

where their proficiency in Hebrew will deepen their love for Israel and further their understanding of and connection to Jewish texts and Talmud Torah. Her Parashat haShavua series for students reflects understanding that Torah guides who we are in all of our interactions and how we hold ourselves in the world. Her inspirational“Spiritual Sparks” workshops facilitate the enhancement of families’ celebrations of Shabbat and Chagim and the integration of parenting and Torah values.

Beth Pepper, Associate Principal, General Studies, Grades 1-5

Beth has been the Associate Principal of General Studies for the Lower School since 2012. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Barnard College as well as a Master’s Degree in Education from Bank Street. After teaching at the Abraham Joshua Heschel School for five years, Beth came to SAR as a 2nd Grade General Studies teacher in 2001. Since joining the administrative team, she has had a particular focus on integrating expository writing and Singapore Math into the curriculum, as well as an interest in formative assessment and responsive classroom practices. Beth is committed to cultivating a community of learners among students

and colleagues who are reflective, passionate about engaging in meaningful and challenging work, and believe that everyone can grow with hard work and perseverance.

Rebecca Ostro Nagata, Associate Principal, Middle School

Rebecca began as the Associate Principal in 2015. Passionate about middle school education and progressive pedagogy, Rebecca started her career in the NYC public schools, and before coming to SAR was the principal of a 6-12 school in Brooklyn, NY. Since coming to SAR, she has worked to create a warm, responsive, developmentally appropriate learning environment for the middle school students, implementing measures such as an advisory program, a health and wellness curriculum, and student-centered instruction. Rebecca and her husband, Shlomo Nagata, live in North Riverdale with their three children – twins, Talya and Noa, and Shai. All three children attend SAR and the Nagata family cherishes being a part of the SAR community, sporting black and yellow swag as frequently as possible!

Ora Muschel, Director, Pisgah

Ora Muschel has taught in SAR Academy since 2008. She has a joint masters in General and Special Education and NYS certification in Special Education. Ora taught in the inclusion classroom for three years. She values developing close relationships with her students and strives to make the curriculum meaningful for each of her students. Ora is looking forward to collaborating with the Pisgah staff while nurturing the students’ academic and social-emotional growth. Ora lives in Clifton, NJ with her husband and four children.

Debra May, Executive Director

Debra May is the Executive Director of SAR. Debra’s work varies and she handles many different aspects of school back office functions including, financial assistance, human resources and operations, to name a few. Debra is always available to talk in person, by phone, or over email to address any parent or staff concerns or questions. An alumna of SAR Academy, Debra has spent much of her life at the school. Prior to returning to SAR 18 years ago as Executive Director, Debra practiced law at Fried, Frank. Debra is the proud mom of two SAR Academy/HS alumni and an SAR High School student.