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Shakeh Tashjian to Join Mustard Seed School as Academic Director of Grades Two-Eight

March 30, 2021 | Thomas Postema

I’m pleased to announce we have hired Shakeh Tashjian to be the Academic Director for Grades Two to Eight. Beginning July 1, she will replace Abby Hall Choi when Ms. Hall Choi takes on the role as Head of School and Shanna Pargellis, who will take a year of sabbatical. We had many highly qualified candidates for the position. I’m excited about the experience, leadership, and energy that Ms. Tashjian will bring to Mustard Seed.

Over the last 25 years, Ms. Tashjian has devoted her career to independent school education. She has served as a Head of School, a Dean, and a High School and Middle School math and science teacher. She has worked at the Solomon Schechter Day School, Hovnanian School, Dwight-Englewood School, and NJ Seeds. In 2018, she was a Klingenstein Fellow at Columbia University Teachers College.

Ms. Tashjian’s goal as a leader is to create a space that is professional, nurturing, learner-centric, diverse, and collaborative. She believes the role of the teacher is to know and inspire their students, serve as a judgement-free mirror to help students learn how to learn, and effectively communicate guidance and feedback. According to Ms. Tashjian, the difference between a good school and a great school is the supportive relationships within the community.  Alongside faculty, staff, students, and parents, she’s ready to work together and strive for even more excellence. She enjoys partnering with parents to propel the success of their students to the next level.

Ms. Tashjian looks forward to working with a team to collaborate and continue to design education that meets the individual and common needs of children. She says that it requires strong leadership to do this work with educators who understand that learning differently is not wrong, having less does not make someone lesser, and worshipping differently is not a sign of weaker faith. She has the conviction and passion to bring that kind of leadership to Mustard Seed School.

Ms. Tashjian grew up in Virginia and her church community was an important part of her identity. She lives with her husband, son, and dog, who are the center of her life. In her spare time she can be found enjoying hot yoga, a great book, or nature. If you ask her the most meaningful word to describe her, she says Armenian. “It encompasses my Christianity, compassion, determination, and appreciation for life.”

Thomas Postema

Head of School

Mr. Postema was the Head of School from Fall 2011 to Spring 2021, when he retired.

An educator for over 35 years, Mr. Postema taught math and was a school administrator at international schools in Japan and South Korea, as well as schools in the USA (New Jersey and Alaska). He taught at Mustard Seed from 1989-1991 when Mr. Cuervo and Mr. Johnson were MSS students!

As Head of School, Mr. Postema successfully led the school through the NJAIS accreditation process and the Together for Tomorrow endowment campaign, which raised over $3M to benefit MSS students. Mr. Postema loves to tell the Mustard Seed story and continues to be passionate about the mission even in his retirement.

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