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May Her Memory Be a Blessing: Jo Ann Wexler

May Her Memory Be a Blessing: Jo Ann Wexler
  • Community
Brian Barasch, Director of Marketing and Communications

On Sunday, September 22 our community gathered together to honor the legacy of longtime Bernard Zell educator, Jo Ann Wexler, who passed away over the summer. Parents, alumni, current and former faculty all came together to remember the incredible tenure of Ms. Wex and her devotion to the Bernard Zell community. Among those who eulogized Jo was Bernard Zell parent, Samantha Mann, who shared the following:

“…As each of my boys spent their year in Jo’s classroom, my admiration for Jo as a teacher grew. She looked at my boys not solely as siblings, did not assume each of them were the same, which they are not, but recognized that they were their own person.  She did not hold past transgressions of an older child against a younger child, she did not assume if one was a particular type of learner, the next one must be as well.  Rather she took inventory of each student, whether mine or yours, and went to work. And she did that year after year, student after student, Mann boy after Mann boy…

But the real gift as a parent of a child in Ms. Wex’s classroom outside of her relationship with your child was that she became part of your family and made a special connection with you as well. She somehow always knew who was doing what, when and where. She knew everyone’s birthdays, daily happenings, where you went or were going on vacation, what you made for dinner and who liked it, grandparents' names, pet illnesses, secrets that weren’t to be told outside of the house.  She always was there to help, celebrate, organize, mourn and like any good Jewish family member was never short of an opinion…

And like she was able to do for her students, she made me as a parent feel special. She wanted to know about my life, my kid’s daily nonsense, especially over those summer months when school was out.  She was there as a resource, to listen. She guided me on how to navigate different learning issues, different social situations. She partnered with David and I when our children struggled and was always there to answer texts with a quick, thoughtful reply and emoji or two. She was not only my children’s teacher, but she was my teacher and my friend as well…”

Jo Ann’s family has created the Jo Ann Wexler Memorial Fund in her honor. Donations to this fund will help to establish a new faculty workroom in her name, a space that will support faculty and student learning for generations to come. Any messages included with donations will be shared with her family. Learn more at



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