AJA Names Ronda Elston Director of Teaching and Learning
By Robyn Lindenberg
Austin Jewish Academy’s 2017-2018 school year kicked off with a new director of teaching and learning, Ronda Elston.
Elston brings to AJA more than 15 years of experience in education. Raised in the Fort Worth area, she holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and a Master of Education Degree in curriculum and instruction. After beginning her career as a laboratory scientist, Elston quickly turned to her true calling, education. Since then, she has taught students ranging from elementary to college age.
For almost a decade, Elston has most recently worked as an instructional coach and curriculum specialist, presenting professional development for teachers at state and national levels. Her passion is creating a positive school culture where both students and educators learn and grow.
Elston has one son, Dylan Scott, who attends Texas Tech University, where he is majoring in computer engineering.
Robyn Lindenberg, AJA marketing communications specialist, sat down with Elston for a Q&A.
Lindenberg: Why do you love working in education?
Elston: As a child, I was always very inquisitive. I was tenacious and determined to understand how things worked and I am pretty sure that I drove my mother a bit crazy. She knew if I was quiet, she had better come and discover what I was “exploring.” That is education: exploring, working through challenging situations, and learning how the world works. When I see that spark and triumph in a student or an educator as they try or discover something new, I feel it with them. I love creating a place for learning to grow.
Lindenberg: What are your goals for the upcoming year at AJA?
Elston: My main goal is to build relationships with all of the members of the AJA community including students, staff and family. Through positive relationships, I want to help each member reach their goals and achieve their potential.
Lindenberg: What makes a director of teaching and learning different from the classic principal role?
Elston: My background is as an instructional coach. My focus has been to bring evidence-based practices into classrooms. For me, this is a partnership with teachers and supporting them as they try new approaches and practices. It is about brainstorming together about challenging situations to find the solutions that best fit the uniqueness of the educator and students. Both positions are instructional leaders. However, the focus for a director of teaching and learning is to create a systemic, ground-up approach to education that increases student achievement by promoting a reflective practice in the school environment.
In each and every role in her career, Elston’s steadfast purpose and personal ambition has and always will be ensuring that all students have the tools to succeed and accomplish their goals. In partnership with parents, teachers and community members, AJA leaders welcome Elston and look forward to ensuring all AJA students enjoy a rigorous, engaging and high-quality educational experience. ■
For more information about Austin Jewish Academy, visit www.austinjewishacademy.org. AJA is now accepting applications to kindergarten through eighth grade for the 2018-2019 school year. Contact email@example.com to schedule a tour or attend an admissions event.