Dr. Bruce Powell has been an instrumental force in founding three college preparatory Jewish high schools in Los Angeles and consulting on the creation of 23 others in the United States.
From 1979 to 1992, he served as the founding General Studies Principal at Yeshiva University of Los Angeles High Schools. During his thirteen-year tenure at YULA, Dr. Powell established the general studies curriculum, created the college-counseling program, set in place all school policies and procedures, orchestrated the process of accreditation, expanded the student population from 160 to 360 students, and built a first-class faculty and administrative structure.
In 1992, Dr. Powell became the first Headmaster of the Milken Community High School. Now working in the larger, pluralistic Jewish educational world, Dr. Powell helped create educational and religious consensus within the Reform and Conservative Jewish communities in order to establish a unified mission for the new school. Based upon a pluralistic Jewish vision, Dr. Powell shaped the school's academic and Jewish studies departments, set in motion full programs in athletics and the arts, and built the school from 160 to 630 students in six years. Because of its success and excellence, the school received a large capital endowment from the Milken Family Foundation, and today stands as a national model for Jewish educational vision and excellence. Today, Milken stands as the largest pluralistic Jewish high school in the United States.
In 2000, after completing his tenure at Milken Community High School, Dr. Powell was approached by several visionary lay leaders in the San Fernando Valley (a part of Los Angeles), to found New Community Jewish High School. Dr. Powell spent two years developing the school’s business plan, curriculum, fund-raising and marketing protocols, faculty and staff, and raising enough money to ensure the school’s sustainability. The school opened its doors to 40 pioneering ninth graders in 2002. Over the next 16 years, the school grew to over 400 students, 75 full-time faculty, and acquired a five-acre campus with 100,000 square feet of learning and athletic spaces. In 2014, Alyce and Phil de Toledo were inspired to provide the school with a naming gift. In honor of Phil and Alyce, the Board voted to rename the school de Toledo High School. Today, the school is debt-free, has already developed over $8 million in endowment funds, and stands as the second largest pluralistic Jewish high school in America. Dr. Powell stepped down from headship in 2018 to devote his full efforts to Jewish School Management and to continue enriching the field of Jewish education.
In addition to building three Jewish high schools in Los Angeles, Dr. Powell served for five years as the summer director of the Brandeis Collegiate Institute in Simi Valley, California, creating educational programs for Jewish youth from around the world.
Recognizing the need to train high level personnel to envision and run Jewish high schools in the United States, Dr. Powell served as a Senior Faculty Member in the Day School Leadership Training Institute at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Since 1998, Dr. Powell has served on the adjunct faculty at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles where he teaches in the Masters degree programs.
Johns Hopkins University recognized Dr. Powell's efforts in the area of Jewish education when he was awarded a special fellowship as one of the outstanding school administrators in California. Moreover, Dr. Powell is a recipient of the Milken Foundation Jewish Educator Award and the Covenant Award from the Crown Foundation.
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