Golda Och Academy is a private Jewish day school that offers secular and religious education for Jewish children from pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade at two campuses in West Orange in Essex County, New Jersey, United States. Until June 2011 the school was called Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union. The school primarily serves families in Essex and Union counties, but attracts students from all over northern and central New Jersey and also New York.
As of the 2015-16 school year, the school had an enrollment of 537 students (plus 14 in PreK) and 67.5 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 8.0:1. The school's student body was 98.5% White and 1.5% two or more races.
In 2015, Head of School Dr. Rabbi Joyce Raynor announced her retirement and her position was filled by Upper School Principal Adam Shapiro. Christine Stodolski was hired as Upper School principal and Carrie Siegel took over as the Lower School principal.
The school first opened in September 1965 co-located with Congregation Beth Shalom in Union, New Jersey, having been founded by its rabbi, Elvin I. Kose, along with Horace Bier and Nat Winter. The first classes were kindergarten and a first grade consisting of 18 children. A class was added each year for the initial class, and there were nine remaining to graduate from high school in 1977. This was the first high school affiliated with the Solomon Schechter Day School Association.
The school moved into its own facilities in 1979 for the first time with the acquisition of the former Roosevelt School in Cranford. Classes were held in various locations in Union and Essex counties. That was followed seven years later in 1986 by the purchase of the Irving Laurie Building in West Orange. In September 1991, the Upper School moved into a newly constructed building on Pleasant Valley Way in West Orange, which in 1995 became the Eric F. Ross Campus.
The Lower School completed a $7 million renovation that began in 2012, which included an expansion of the building, building of a new wing and refurbishment of existing spaces. Project highlights included the addition of a science discovery lab and outdoor classroom and garden, a new technology lab, synagogue, playground, library, and cafeteria; creation of a specialty space for art and music; updated and wired classrooms; and increased accessibility.
Beginning in 2014, Golda Och Academy has increased its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (collectively STEM) programming, including a new STEM class, an award-winning Robotics club, the CodeRunners and more. In January 2015, the school announced plans for a state-of-the-art STEM facility which was completed in September 2015.
Golda Och Academy has over 1,800 alumni.
The school is accredited by the Solomon Schechter Day School Association and the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools. It exceeds New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards. Golda Och Academy is a beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest New Jersey and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.
The Golda Och Academy Road Runners compete in the Super Essex Conference, following a reorganization of sports leagues in Northern New Jersey by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA).
Sports include; Soccer, Tennis, Volleyball, Cross-Country, Swimming and Basketball for both boys and girls on a middle school or varsity level. Baseball and Softball are offered as well as a new Lacrosse club.
In 2013, the school's gymnasium was dedicated in honor of gym teacher and coach Sandy Pyonin in celebration of his 40 years at SSDS/GOA. Pyonin has trained more than 30 professional basketball players including Kyrie Irving.
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