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The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

Principal Powerhouse

Batson steps up to lead middle school
Justin Kunimoto
Batson takes a stroll in D.C. with her family.

In her eight and a half years as a science teacher and four years as Upper School STEM Coordinator at CESJDS, Middle School Principal Cassandra Batson has worked face-to-face with students to inform, educate and help them grow. This year, Batson will begin her new position as the middle school principal and will become the first non-Jewish principal in JDS history.

After former Middle School Principal Dr. Eliana Lispky announced her resignation, a committee of JDS faculty including Middle School Assistant Principal Rabbi Janet Ozur Bass and High School Principal, Campus Head Dr. Lisa Vardi convened to review candidates for a replacement.

“We wanted somebody who believed in what we’re already doing as a middle school and had a vision of where to take it next,” Ozur Bass said. “The fact that Ms. Batson is so beloved by the students, faculty and families helped a lot because it means that she can hit the ground running.”

Once the Principal Search Committee assembled a group of finalists, JDS students, parents and teachers met the candidates and shared their opinions on the candidates with Head of School Rabbi Mitchel Malkus. Taking community surveys and a final recommendation from the Principal Search Committee into account, Malkus made the final decision to appoint Batson as middle school principal.

Batson first became a science teacher at JDS eight and a half years ago and she has a total of 13 years of experience in middle school education. Four years ago, Batson became the Upper School STEM Coordinator. According to Ozur Bass, the strong reputation that Batson has built through her previous roles at JDS engendered a positive response to her appointment as middle school principal.

Though Batson is the first non-Jewish principal at JDS, her years of experience at JDS and her commitment to pluralistic education made her an ideal candidate.

“Even though I’m not Jewish, I am a JDS-er through and through,” Batson said. “And because I’m not Jewish, I am very mindful and very thoughtful about what I don’t know, so I’m not afraid to ask questions.”

Seventh-grader Ryder Chesman, who had Batson as a science teacher during his second semester of sixth grade, had a positive experience in Batson’s class, making him enthusiastic about her new role as principal.

“I think that she’s going to be a great middle school principal…” Chesman said. “She was a great teacher and she knows what she’s doing very well.”

Though Batson will miss teaching, she is excited to take a more prominent role in shaping the middle school’s culture. After she acclimates to her responsibilities as principal, Batson hopes to return to teaching a small amount of classes. Former JDS science teacher Alexandra Brown returned to campus to replace Batson as Upper School STEM Coordinator.

Batson hopes to use her experience as a STEM Coordinator and educator to create a nurturing environment at the middle school.

“My biggest hope,” Batson said, “as I think every principal would want, is to create a warm, loving, welcoming environment where students are challenged, pushed and held accountable. I hope that they come out of our middle school better prepared for the world.”

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Ellie Fischman
Ellie Fischman, Managing Editor, Copy
Ellie (they/she) is very excited to continue their work on Lion’s Tale as Managing Editor, Copy. Their previous positions of Opinion Editor and Assistant Sports Editor have reinforced their passions for design and helping writers refine their work. Outside of Lion’s Tale, Ellie is a peer tutor at JDS’s writing center and the co-president of Girl Up Club. When they do not have a massive pile of articles to edit, they enjoy crocheting clothes, writing poetry and playing volleyball. Ellie hopes to enhance the Lion’s Tale’s unique voice as Managing Editor, Copy and help writers reach their full potential.

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