Partnerships for Jewish Schools and the Jewish Leadership Council were devastated to hear the tragic news about Dr Dena Coleman z”l. Dena was an inspirational Headteacher and a role model for teachers and pupils alike. She was a hugely respected colleague whose passion for Jewish education was matched by wisdom, warmth and a willingness always to offer helpful advice and support. Yavneh College will always stand as her most impressive legacy but she will be remembered with deep gratitude also by countless pupils from all the schools she led, by Headteachers whom she mentored and by all those who benefited from her professional advice and personal friendship. We extend our deepest condolences to all her family on this tragic loss. May her memory always be an inspiration and a blessing.
Blog Piece by Executive Director of PaJeS Alastair Falk
The tragic and untimely death of Dena Coleman has spread shock waves through the Jewish education community. Nobody can quite believe that such a powerful and vibrant presence was taken so suddenly. This posting is not meant as an obituary (even writing the word in connection with Dena seems unreal) but rather as a personal reflection. I think I first encountered Dena professionally when she was the Headteacher of Hasmonean, a post she took on in the teeth of opposition from the more conservative forces within the school. She soon showed that she was more than capable of not just running the school, but moving it dramatically forward. But it was as Head of Yavneh that I knew her best, and more recently, as member of PaJeS’ Professional Board. She was always willing to offer advice and support and her contributions to our discussions were hugely influential in shaping our agenda. On a personal level, she was always happy to act as a sounding board for ideas and she happily acted as a mentor to new Headteachers, who all benefited from her wisdom and thoughtful approach to problems. Above all, she was a Headteacher’s Headteacher, someone who carried the respect and affection of all her colleagues. A couple of months ago, I had the pleasure of a long conversation with Dena about the impact of Jewish schools. It was, as always with Dena, a thoughtful, entertaining and honest conversation, which helped me formulate my ideas. And as always, Dena gave me a great deal of her time and made me feel, for that hour, that our conversation was the most important thing she could be doing. Dena Coleman was a great Headteacher, a lovely person and a thoughtful, caring professional. She will be deeply mourned and hugely missed. Her passing leaves a great void in the Jewish educational world as well as among her family, friends and generations of pupils. May her memory always be an inspiration and a blessing.