Who We Are

Debby Kinman-Ford

Debby Kinman-Ford has worked in education for 30 years. She ran a successful Jewish preschool and day school for 16 years and left to branch out to do other projects including writing Jewish ECE curriculum and stories, working with schools to be the best they can be. She is passionate about family engagement and helping communities grow the next generation of community leaders. She has taught numerous workshops on these topics as well as building teams and staff culture. Debby has 2 daughters, a son-in-law and her first granddaughter!

Dan Ahlstrom

Dan Ahlstrom Ed.D. is an educator and administrator who revels in introducing ideas that create a furrow in people’s brow.  With over 25 years of experience in independent schools, Dan vigorously seeks a professional development-focused faculty culture. He has authored several articles and regularly presents workshops on topics that include Advancement, Admissions, and Leadership.

Eytan Oren

Eytan Oren has worked in Jewish Education for 10+ years in many roles. He graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Jewish Studies, beginning his educational journey in Early Childhood and working up to Director of Education and Engagement at a synagogue. He has worked as an instructor and an administrator, planning daily lessons and yearly curriculums, working with all ages. He recently graduated with a Master of Arts in Teaching from Kennesaw State University, giving him experience in formal education.

Diane Otto

Diane has always been centered in her Jewish faith and her love for children. After graduating from the University of Florida in 1999 and 2003, she accepted a position as a Biological Scientist for the Florida Department of Agriculture, and later for the Florida Fish & Wildlife Research Institute, Department of Ecosystem Assessment and Restoration. After 14 years, she left her career as a scientist to raise her children. She set out to teach her two sons and her daughter how to practice and experience Judaism through science, engineering, critical thought, and the natural world. She eventually created a successful Jewish S.T.E.M program at her oldest son’s day school. It was there, where her education, experience, skill, and genuine passion came together. 

Publications

A Guide to New School Administrators
Dr. Dan Ahlstrom and Debby Kinman-Ford, M. S. Ed.

This no-nonsense publication was created to guide new school administrators through the process of applying for a job to creating your team and budget development.

This publication includes links to great resources for new school personnel including national organizations to explore, short videos of other head of school’s experiences and resources of books that resonated with us. Learn from others who do what you do how to navigate your first year of headship.

Why Not- Pearls of Wisdom-
A six-week odyssey of changing directions when you weren’t thinking to

Debby Kinman-Ford, M.S. Ed.

An honest account of what you might go through when your career is upended and how to find your way to get to afloat again.

What I learned from this experience, is that having gone through this and watching countless other colleagues go through it, that it is not unique to you. Although the details of each person’s story vary, the emotional process is remarkably similar and the journey to moving on is equally hard for us all. This publication was created as a validation tool for anyone who finds themselves upended and needing to regroup their career path.

Resourcefulness of a Community Under Distress
Dr. Dan Ahlstrom

What happens when your school is upended by catastrophe? Learn from two experienced heads of schools and how they dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Factors affecting student retention at one independent school in the southwest
Dr. Dan Ahlstrom

Based on the results of this study, a model noting the five factors that affected retention in a faith-based school was developed.

Family Involvement in Faith-Based Schools
publication date 2017 publication description Information Age Publishing
Dr. Dan Ahlstrom

This paper looked at how community involvement can be used to build commitment in a faith-based school.

Resources

Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Mindfulness for Teachers by Patricia A. Jennings

Dare Greatly by Brene Brown

Great Ideas of Philosophy 2nd ed. by Daniel N. Robinson

Hazon/Teva website http://www.hazon.org

Back to the Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills by Abigail R. Gehring 

What’s Jewish about Butterflies? 36 Dynamic, Engaging Lessons for the Early Childhood Classroom by  Deborah L. Schein and Maxine Segal Handelman

Jewish Every Day: The Complete Handbook for Early Childhood Teachers by Maxine Segal Handelman

Essential Judaism: A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Customs & Rituals by by George Robinson

Jewish Literacy Revised Ed: The Most Important Things to Know About the Jewish Religion, Its People, and Its History by Joseph Telushkin

Testimonials

“I was really lucky to be able to take Debby and Dan’s workshop right as I was starting my first job as director of a religious school. They covered a wide range of sensitive issues from how to approach budgets and staff issues to when to begin planning for a new year and fit in longer term curriculum changes, and did it all with a positive, professional approach.”- Marc Stober, Religious School Director, Temple Israel, Manchester, MH and Student Cantor at Congregation Mishkan Tefila.

“The impact that Eytan Oren has had on the community and kids that he works with is incredible to watch. His ease of working with, communicating with, and understanding students allows him to inject every lesson with Jewish values and knowledge. His energy and positive attitude are contagious and shine through in the work he does. A mensch on all fronts.“- Nancy Seifert Gorod, Director of Congregational Learning at Congregation Shearith Israel, Atlanta, GA

“Diane Otto is a rare blend of spiritual and scientific, intuitive and practical. She has a talent for meeting children’s experiential needs for in-depth learning through innovative studying, applying, designing, and creating. She cultivates a rich learning community which simultaneously honors and employs the practices of Judaism with real-world applications of science and engineering.”– Turia Stark Williams, Cantorial Soloist and former Beth Shalom Sunday School Director