From Day 1: Q&A with Odelia Epstein, Director of Knowledge Research and Data, on Prizmah’s Longtime Relationship With Rosov Consulting

December 13, 2023 | News

Odelia Epstein is Director of Knowledge, Research and Data for Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools, helping Jewish day school leaders make data-driven decisions. Prizmah has engaged Rosov Consulting for multiple projects over seven years since Prizmah’s founding. To share the nature of this work with others, we recently sat down for a Q&A with Odelia. We hope you enjoy her reflections and insights.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about why Prizmah initially reached out to Rosov Consulting and the influence it had?

A: Prizmah believes in the power of data-informed decision making. We help school leaders use data and research to make strategic, data-informed decisions to enhance school financial health and educational excellence. We conduct and publish landscape research and data that provides an informed perspective on educational trends for school professional and lay leaders, funders and the broader field of Jewish day schools and yeshivas. At Prizmah, we model what it means to be a data driven organization and use data to craft organizational strategy, define programmatic goals and evaluate and measure impact to continuously improve.

Prizmah started working with Rosov from the time our organization was launched seven years ago. One of the first engagements was on the “Learning Leadership Landscape” study, which mapped the field of leadership professional development programs for people in the Jewish day school field. The study  developed  a framework on the distinction between capacities ( what leaders can do) and dispositions ( who leaders are). We used that framework as we developed and honed our own yearlong professional development cohort program, “YOU Lead.”

Q: Day schools really pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Did you bring on Rosov for any learnings during that time?

A: Yes. During COVID many Jewish day schools had increased enrollment, coming from public and private school transfer students. The pandemic acted as a catalyst for parents who were questioning or unhappy with their children’s education. We wanted to really understand and learn from those parent choices. Rosov conducted a study called “Seizing the Moment: Transferring to Jewish Day School During the Covid-19 Pandemic”  that included numerous interviews with parents who transferred kids to day schools. We wanted to understand more about these parents’ choices and the decisions they made. The study’s findings have informed day school recruitment and retention efforts and how we at Prizmah support admission professionals.

Q: How would you describe Rosov Consulting’s way of working with Prizmah?

A:  We’ve done many studies with Rosov over the last seven years. In addition to those mentioned, Rosov has also advised us on a Heads of Orthodox School Salary and Benefits Report and conducted an in-depth study on Orthodox Women’s Leadership. Rosov also helped gather data for the Day School Affordability Tuition Model Inventory. In all those engagements, we depended on and trusted the Rosov team for their expertise in research. We work hand-in-hand with them to frame and determine how the data is going to be used for the field. It’s a partnership, and we look to them to guide and help us refine the questions and results, to be professional, and to conduct high-quality, rigorous research.

Q: With all of these engagements, can you summarize how Prizmah uses this knowledge and data? What impact has this work had on the organization?

A:  Through financial and operational benchmarking, pulse surveys, Jewish day school and yeshiva landscape reporting and in-depth qualitative research, Prizmah aims to provide the field of Jewish day schools with knowledge, research and data to support a data informed field. Our research gives voice to the successes and challenges schools and communities face. It provides real-time information in times of acute need and day school-specific reporting that can be shared with funders, media, and schools, enabling Prizmah and schools to communicate about what is happening across North America.

Rosov Consulting’s expertise in the Jewish non-profit sector along with their wide range of technical expertise and guidance has helped us at Prizmah conduct meaningful and insightful research for and about Jewish day schools and yeshivas in the United States. The team has a skillful ability to analyze in depth interviews for themes. Their support in this area has brought great insights into Jewish day school leader professional development programs, the successes and challenges of school lay leadership, and the conditions of Orthodox Women’s Leadership in Jewish day schools and yeshivas.  Each project is a unique piece of research that covers a distinct content area. So, each has its own impact and use.

Q: Is there any parting message you have about this work?

A:  I end with a simple message: that we are grateful for our colleagues at Rosov for partnering with us to build a knowledgeable and research-based field of Jewish day schools and yeshivas.