Pressner promoted to lead Akiva

Posted on: January 31st, 2018 by tgregory

Staff reports

‘I am honored to be working alongside such loving and talented educators, parents, children and lay leaders who have committed themselves so deeply to this school.’

— Daniella Pressner

Akiva School Principal Daniella Pressner will become head of school this summer, following the recommendation of Akiva Executive Director Tony McLarty and the unanimous decision last month of the school’s board of directors, the board said in a statement.

Board president Uzi Yemin stated, “We have seen many leadership changes at Akiva, but the one person who has remained constant and has continually pushed the school to higher and higher levels of excellence is Daniella.  She has been preparing for this role over the last few years and we are confident in her leadership ability.”  She will assume her new responsibilities beginning on July 1. 

In 2016, McLarty took on the role of Akiva’s executive director for a two-year term.  In anticipation of the end of his contract, he recommended to the board of directors that Akiva return to the head-of-school operating model, which combines the roles of executive director and principal. He nominated Pressner to serve as head of school.

“It is an honor to lead the school at a time when its vibrancy and presence are so real,” Pressner said on accepting her new position. “I have so much respect for the individuals who have led the school to this point and look forward to continuing to raise the bar for excellence. I am honored to be working alongside such loving and talented educators, parents, children, and lay leaders who have committed themselves so deeply to this school.  My door is always open and I look forward to continuing to welcome everyone into this vision.”  

McLarty will remain on staff until Aug. 31 to ensure a seamless transition into the 2018-2019 school year.  The board expressed appreciation for his many accomplishments and contributions.  Mr. McLarty successfully leveraged his strong business experience and acumen to help ensure the stability and viability of Akiva School for years to come.  

“I will always treasure my time at Akiva and getting to know the wonderful people that are part of this community,” McLarty said. “Leaving is bittersweet, but I know that Akiva will continue to thrive and flourish under the guidance and leadership of Daniella Pressner. 

“We have worked closely over the last two years, and I am confident that Daniella’s inspirational leadership, strategic focus, commitment to Judaism and passion for education make her a perfect fit to lead Akiva.”  

Pressner began her career at Akiva in 2006.  During her tenure, she has served as teacher, director of Judaic studies, interim head of school, and principal. 

She received her bachelor’s degree from Barnard College and her master’s from Vanderbilt University. In addition, she has studied at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Israel. She was a member of the Scholars Circle and the Summer Talmud Intensives at the Drisha Institute. She was awarded a Day School Leadership Training Institute fellowship for future leaders of Jewish day schools.  

In addition, Pressner has served on many international and local boards and is the past president of Jewish Family Service in Nashville. She has written and taught for many different audiences.

Karen Weil, a former Akiva parent, also shared her enthusiasm. “Daniella has long been thought of as the heart and soul of Akiva School. There is no one more qualified or more deserving.  Akiva School and Nashville are lucky to have her as head of school.”  •