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Interview with Incoming Barrack Faculty

Rachel Loeb


This year at Barrack we are welcoming many additions to our faculty! The Cougar Chronicle interviewed each teacher to get to know them a little better. The following are excerpts from interviews with some of Barrack’s new staff:

1. What are you most looking forward to in this position?

Missy Present (Director of Admissions and Enrollment Management): I love thinking creatively and strategically about what draws students and families to Jewish educational communities; and how those educational communities can communicate their value, values, and outcomes. And, I am really looking forward to doing that here at Barrack! I am especially looking forward to getting to know the MS and US students so that I can amplify all you admire and value about the school to those thinking about joining our community.

Bob Dignazio (Athletic Director): Working with a great group of students, coaches, and community members as we continue to build on the foundation of Barrack Athletics.

Benjamin Blackman (English Teacher and faculty supervisor for HEAR club this year): I’m most looking forward to getting to know and work with the students at Barrack!

Amanda Greenberg (Learning Specialist): I’m most looking forward to being part of the Barrack kehilla and see the AHA moments the students have this year.

Amir Zinkow (Judaic Studies Teacher): I am most looking forward to learning with a diverse student population

Daniel Satlow (Hebrew and JST Teacher): I am most excited to be a part of such a vibrant, pluralistic community that is JBHA

Brooke Mildenberg (Learning Specialist): Helping set students up for success and laughing together while we learn

Michelle Geiger (Learning Specialist): I am most looking forward to getting to know the students and staff!!

Bat-hen Zeron (Hebrew Teacher): I’m looking forward to collaborating with other colleagues who view teaching as a sacred craft, while also spreading the love of learning in any encounter with students.

2. What is your favorite topic within your field?

Present: Overseeing enrollment management means that I am always thinking about the continued growth of our student body and all the various constituencies (inside and outside the school building) that impact that growth. I especially love thinking about how blending marketing, messaging, community building, and affordability can impact enrollment growth over time.

Dignazio: I really enjoy connecting sport to other academic disciplines. I earned my masters in Sport Humanities, which examined the intersection of sport with history, sociology, gender, and other fields. I wrote my thesis on social identity and Philadelphia Big Five College Basketball.

Benjamin Blackman: There are so many topics I love in reading and teaching English, but my favorite is probably the future, or put another way, speculation. As long as people have been writing what we deem “literature,” they have also been writing about the future. “Aren’t all stories told by storytellers and poets,” Socrates asks Adeimantus in Plato’s Republic, “really a narrative -- of what has happened in the past, of what is happening now, or of what is going to happen in the future?” Yet how that future is imagined changes over the millennia; it is only in the late nineteenth century that we begin to see the kinds of detailed world building we’re so familiar with from science fiction and fantasy books, movies, and tv. Tracing not just what the future looks like but how writers imagine the future can tell us so much about the relationship between literature and science, technology, philosophy, politics, gender, religion, and more.

Greenberg: My favorite subject is science.

Zinkow: My two favorite things to focus on are Gemara and the peshat (plain, most straightforward) meaning of the Torah

Satlow: So many nuggets to choose from! I am fascinated by the ways in which Jews from different places balanced their commitment between tradition and modernity in different ways

Mildenberg: No specific topic, but I love seeing the ‘ah-ha’ moments when something clicks

Geiger: My favorite topics is Literature

Zeron: My favorite topics in Hebrew studies are those moments in a unit of study, when we are able to connect a subject/skill to a current situation accuring in Israel. This makes the textbook come to life, and to me that’s when the magic of learning happens.

3. What are your hobbies?

Present: My passion is traveling and seeing the world with my husband and kids. My hobbies also include playing tennis, reading a great book by the ocean, and spending time with family and friends.

Dignazio: I have two energetic children: 3 year old (Caleb), 1 year old (Asher), and an amazing spouse (Morgan). We keep each other very busy!

Benjamin Blackman: I really enjoy hiking, and was lucky to have easy access to sublime national and state parks when I lived in California for graduate school. I’m excited to explore nature in Pennsylvania!

Greenberg: My hobbies are playing tennis, going hiking/camping and other outdoor sports with my family, traveling, and volunteering with my kids’ sports and scouts activities.

Zinkow: My hobbies include hiking, fixing things, ceramics, watching sports, learning, and cooking.

Satlow: I am a runner, hiker, traveler and global soccer fan

Mildenberg: Exercising, reading, dancing

Geiger: For hobbies, I enjoy traveling, cooking, reading, going to the beach, camping, bike riding, spending time with family and friends, celebrating holidays, and exploring new restaurants. Oh, and I’m a huge Disney fan; I love everything Disney!

Zeron: My hobbies include: Dancing, writing, baking and collecting great picture books.


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