Golda Och Academy

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Golda Och Academy
1418 Pleasant Valley Way
West Orange, NJ 07052
Type Private
Religious affiliation(s) Jewish
Established September 1965 as Solomon Schechter Day School Of Essex And Union, January 2011 as Golda Och Academy
Principal Christine Stodolski (Upper School)
Carrie Siegel (Lower School)
Head of School Adam Shapiro
Faculty 69.3 (on FTE basis)[1]
Grades PreK-12
 • Pre-kindergarten 14
 • Other 521
Student to teacher ratio 7.5:1[1]
Campus Suburban
Color(s)      Blue and
Athletics conference Super Essex Conference
Team name Road Runners[2]

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 2013-14 school year, the school had an enrollment of 521 students in grades K-12 (plus 14 in PreK) and 69.3 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 7.5:1.[1]

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.[3]


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.[4]

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 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.[5]

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.[6]

Golda Och Academy has over 1,700 alumni.[citation needed]


The school is accredited by the Solomon Schechter Day School Association and the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools.[7] 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.


Golda Och Academy Road Runners[2] competes in the Super Essex Conference, following a reorganization of sports leagues in Northern New Jersey by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA).[8]

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.[2]

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.[9]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d School Data for Golda Och Academy, National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed May 4, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Golda Och Academy, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed June 2, 2015.
  3. ^ Ginsberg, Johanna. "‘I love the small, tight-knit feeling here’; GOA’s new principal is not Jewish, but values its sense of community", New Jersey Jewish News, May 20, 2015. Accessed September 10, 2015. "Those statements put a big smile on Stodolski’s face. She will take the helm of the West Orange high school as its principal beginning July 1. And just a few minutes earlier, sitting in the office of current principal Adam Shapiro (who will become head of school upon the retirement of Rabbi Dr. Joyce Raynor in July), she explained that one of the things that attracted her to the position is the community it offers."
  4. ^ Our History, Golda Och Academy. Accessed June 14, 2011.
  5. ^ Ginsberg, Johanna. "Golda Och breaks ground on major renovation; Wilf family kickstarts construction to update 1950s lower school", New Jersey Jewish News, May 23, 2012. Accessed May 4, 2015.
  6. ^ "Golda Och Academy Of West Orange To See New State-Of-The-Art STEM Center". West Orange, New Jersey Patch. 
  7. ^ Golda Och Academy, New Jersey Association of Independent Schools. Accessed January 14, 2017.
  8. ^ League Memberships – 2016–2017, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed January 10, 2017.
  9. ^ Teicher, Jordan. "The NBA's Jewish Playmaker; Sandy Pyonin helped stars like Kyrie Irving and Al Harrington go pro. Why doesn't he have a Wikipedia page?", Tablet (magazine), January 8, 2013. Accessed December 15, 2015. "But with Pyonin, legacy comes down to one number: 34. That’s the number of his players who have made it to the NBA.... In September, Golda Och held a ceremony to rename their basketball court the 'Sandy Pyonin Court.'"
  10. ^ Scheinfeld, Jillian. "Spotlight On: Fashion Designer Rachel Antonoff; Talking to Antonoff about her family, inspiration, and journey to becoming a successful designer", Jewcy, October 15, 2013. Accessed January 14, 2017.
  11. ^ Mandell, Meredith. "Down to the River: Newly Minted Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop Plans Big; From Goldman Sachs to the Marine Corps to mayor of New York’s sixth borough",, July 30, 2013. Accessed December 15, 2015. "Livingston is adjacent to West Orange, which is home to the Solomon Schechter day school that Mr. Fulop attended."
  12. ^ Aberback, Brian. "As Band Says Goodbye, Armor for Sleep Frontman Reflects on Teaneck Roots; Rock and pop-punk band's farewell tour includes New York City show July 14", Teaneck Patch, July 8, 2012. Accessed November 11, 2014. "Influenced by pop-punk, indie rock and emo bands such as New Brunswick’s Lifetime, Princeton’s Saves the Day and Floridians New Found Glory, Jorgensen formed the punk band Random Task with friends from Solomon Schechter Upper School in West Orange."
  13. ^ Ginsberg, Johanna. "Day school endowment hits $20 million mark; On first anniversary, schools see funding for tuition, high tech", New Jersey Jewish News, September 11, 2008. Accessed April 4, 2013. "Daniel Och, one of the first students to attend SSDS, is chief executive officer and chair of the board of directors at Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, a global institutional alternative asset management firm with approximately $30 billion in assets."
  14. ^ Barshad, Amos. "Q&A: A Short, Strange Chat With Adam Pally About Writing for Himself, Confidence-Building Through Bombing, and the Future of the Knicks", Grantland, August 18, 2015. Accessed December 15, 2015. "Well, I went to [Jewish day school] Solomon Schechter. I see an A-M-O-S I'm gonna say 'Ahmos.'"
  15. ^ Biography, Ultimate Gabe Saporta. Accessed June 2, 2015. "In 1996 Gabe and his friends Chris Delvecchio and Joshua Scott-Dicker (which he met at the ‘Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union’ in New Jersey) formed the Band Humble Beginnings."
  16. ^ Leichman, Joseph. "More powerful than a locomotive…; Steel Train remembers Jersey roots on path to fame", Jewish Standard, November 26, 2010. Accessed November 11, 2014. "Silbert and Winiker went to the Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union for high school, while Antonoff commuted to Manhattan’s Professional Children’s School."

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°46′41″N 74°15′08″W / 40.778007°N 74.252343°W / 40.778007; -74.252343