Jonathan GoldenHistory Teacher and Israel Curriculum Coordinator, Gann Academy

Can you describe your career path and how it has led to your current work?

My career path began while I was an undergraduate at Princeton.  I was a history major and a participant in the Teacher Preparation Program where I was a student-teacher of U.S. history at a local public school.  My junior papers and senior thesis focused on issues of American Jewish history, and I wanted to continue my graduate studies to continue to explore these areas.  After graduating from Princeton, I went to Hebrew College to pursue a MJEd to continue both teaching and my interest in Jewish studies. At the end of that program, I continued to have deep questions about American Jewish history and the history of Jewish pluralism in the United States. That led me to Brandeis for a PhD in the NEJS Department and the honor to study with Professor Jonathan Sarna as my advisor.

What services and/or resources did you use while at Brandeis for your career search? 

In my initial conversation with Professor Sarna, even before I matriculated, we discussed possible career paths both in the Jewish day school world and academia. I appreciated his openness to explore these different career paths with me from the very beginning and to recognize my interests and background with students at the high school level (including my years of experience at Camp Yavneh). When an opportunity to take a part-time job teaching U.S. History at the New Jewish High School (now Gann Academy) opened, Professor Sarna alerted me to the opportunity. Still at Gann 22 years later, for me, the rest is history! At the time, I was not sure if this job would be a short term stop while finishing my dissertation followed by a pursuit of an academic career. However, I have had a very fulfilling career as a teacher and administrator at Gann Academy, bringing the best of my Brandeis experience and other experiences into my work.

What skills from your Brandeis degree have you found most valuable in your current work?

From the beginning, Gann Academy has had a very close relationship with Brandeis, including a regular stream of Brandeis graduates as teachers and Gann alumni as Brandeis students. Thus, I feel connected continually with the Brandeis community. My Brandeis education taught me critical skills of research and provided me with a broad and well-grounded understanding of the sweep of Jewish history. I draw upon my Brandeis learning constantly in the American history classroom, my class on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and my work as Israel Curriculum Coordinator. I am sure to stay connected with the work of the Schusterman Center for the latest in Israel Studies and opportunities that I can share with colleagues. Finally, I am so pleased to see continued partnership and collaboration with the Mandel Center for Jewish Education including my training by that program as a mentor to new teachers.

What advice do you have for current students as they embark on their career exploration or job search? 

It is important to think broadly about one’s career both in academia and outside of academia.  It is helpful to have conversations about this early in your career with your advisor as they will be an important resource in your thinking. Take the initiative to have informational interviews in a variety of fields so that you can learn about different career possibilities. If I can provide one of those informational interviews, please reach out to me at