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Meet Riv Lynch of Rochelle Zell Jewish High School in Deerfield

Today we’d like to introduce you to Riv Lynch.

Riv, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
When my family moved to the US from Israel in the late 70’s my parents enrolled me in a private Jewish day school in Chicago, Akiba Schechter. They wanted to be sure I maintained my Jewish education and Hebrew language as well as my ties to Israel. We eventually made the move to the north suburbs and my siblings and I enrolled at Solomon Schechter Day School. Many years later, when my husband and I discussed having children, we both agreed that a Jewish Day School was where our future children would be educated. We eventually enrolled all three kids in Solomon Schechter, my alma mater, in Northbrook. We were committed to having our children educated in an institution where excellence in general and Jewish education was equally important and an environment that fostered mensches (kids with integrity and a good heart).

Our investment in our children’s Jewish education continued through high school, where we enrolled our eldest, Hannah, at Chicagoland Jewish High School (CJHS), now called Rochelle Zell Jewish High School (RZJHS). Our son, Liam followed three years later then Uma three years after that.

My career path changed course when I was invited to apply for the Director of Admissions position at CJHS when my son began his freshman year. I could not imagine a better fit. I was already passionate and dedicated to Jewish education, was a parent at this incredible academic institution and already bought it. So, the rest was an easy sell.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Sending my children to a private school for so many years (pre-school through 12 grade) was and still is an incredible financial burden but an investment we fully stand behind. We do not regret our decision even during the tight years. James and I took it a year at a time, sometimes, a month at a time. We envisioned the kind of kids and future adults we wanted to raise and that meant choosing simpler lifestyles to make ends meet.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Rochelle Zell Jewish High School – what should we know?
Now, I am beginning my 5th year as Director of Admissions and I see how challenging it is to convince parents that a stellar private education is worth the cost. Rochelle Zell is surrounded by an excellent public high school that happens to be free. But, for all the current and alumni RZJHS parents, the benefit of a private, Jewish education out-weight the financial cost. We do have incredible public high school in our area but they just cannot offer what a smaller, more student-focused curriculum can do; smaller class sizes, small student/teacher ratio, integrative general and Jewish curriculum and programs, a culture of academic excellence, a respectful community where every individual counts, and young adults who think critically and achieve their full potential.

RZJHS is a dual-curriculum high school with 180 students. It blends the intimacy and community of a small high school with the opportunities and diversity of a larger public high school. Combining a rigorous general studies education with a comprehensive Jewish studies curriculum, a strong athletic and fine arts program and numerous extra-curricular activities and clubs, Rochelle Zell attracts students from all over the Chicagoland area as well as many from out of state. Students and their families represent a wide spectrum of Jewish observance where everyone’s practices are welcomed and respected. Rochelle Zell is a full package; academic excellence, Jewish values, leadership, philanthropy, and family.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Rochelle Zell’s administrators, faculty, and staff work as a team. One is never independent of the other. We are all committed to the ultimate goal which is teaching and mentoring incredible young adults, growing our student body and making it possible for future Jewish students to attend our school. What makes this job so gratifying and enjoyable is the sense of camaraderie and family and a shared commitment to inspire our students to think critically and achieve their full potential while preparing them to live Judaism as responsible and involved citizens in the modern world.

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