Sitting in Mrs. Levari's quaint office, I can hear the sounds of FAB GHS students talking and eating lunch seeping through the bottom of the door. Mrs. Levari has graciously taken the time out of her day to meet with me so that I can learn more about her.
Originally from Elkins Park, a suburb of Philadelphia, Mrs. Levari has now lived in Pittsburgh for thirteen years. Mrs. Levari has very fond memories of high school, the Torah Academy Girls High School of Greater Philadelphia. "I was very strange in high school,' she admits. "[I've got] a lot of good moments and friends: laughing with my friends - we still have personal jokes today, and have a Facebook group where we share old photos and jokes. I can't believe it was so long ago."
Although Mrs. Levari has been in Pittsburgh for a long time, and appreciates that "everything is close, [it is] easy to raise kids in terms of walking places; [you] don't have to drive very far," living in Pittsburgh is an adjustment for her. "It rains so much, but doesn't snow so we don't have snow days. I definitely miss the nor'easters of Philly," she explains. When asked the most important question, Pittsburgh Steelers or Philadelphia Eagles, Mrs. Levari answers wisely: "Steelers. [I am] traumatized by my family; the Eagles took over Sunday. Steelers fans are much nicer."
While Mrs. Levari is now known as the Assistant Principal of the Middle School and High School Girls, education was not always her path. She originally thought she'd go into "social work, almost went to grad school, but got married and went back to Israel instead." Then she moved back to Pittsburgh and was approached by Nina Butler, Mrs. Levari explains. She realized [she] could combine Torah learning with helping people. "The teachers I had in high school [were] very influential parts of my life." Mrs. Levari goes on to note that she wanted to "pay it forward," because it was a "very big thing for me."
Mrs. Levari spent two years in Israel at Bnos Chava, a teacher's institute, and then "Moreshet Institute in Neve Jerusalem, while simultaneously completing an online bachelor's in Psychology." She later went on to earn her Master's Degree in School Administration at Duquesne University, in Pittsburgh.
Being a dedicated teacher and principal are only some of the hats that Mrs. Levari wears at Hillel Academy. As she explains, "I am the parent of five kids, and run a mean and tight dismissal." Mrs. Levari loves working at Hillel, which she describes as "an obstacle course, watch out for the quagmire!"
As one can imagine, Mrs. Levari spends an extended amount of time around the FAB GHS students. "There is never a dull moment," she remarks. When I ask her how she could ever survive next year without this year's graduating class ( my class), Mrs. Levari heartfully tells me, "The anticipation and excitement of seeing [your class] again will keep me afloat."
There is not much spare time in Mrs. Levari's life. She says "When I'm not taking care of my family or working, I like to just do nothing." Mrs. Levari also enjoys reading, and is currently reading several books. Mrs. Levari notes that she does not like games - any type: not board games, not card games, nothing.
It is important to note that throughout our interview Mrs. Levari was happily enjoying her lunch of grapefruit and feta cheese. Mrs. Levari explains that she can appreciate an odd food combination - and I can't help but agree.
By Rachel Cohen
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