January 30, 2019

Two Times the Charm

Hannah Stoch ‘22

Pursuing only one career at a time is not for Jamie Mittleman. While Mittleman started out as substitute teacher – turned – arts coordinator, she chose to follow her acting dreams before finding a way to maintain a balance of both that works for her.
“If you want to do something creative, no one’s going to create that path for you.” Mittleman said.
Mittleman first started working at Golda Och Academy right after she graduated from Binghamton University, where she had majored in theater and Judaics. Originally, she worked at the Lower School as a substitute teacher, but transferred to the Upper School when there was an opening for eighth grade Tefilah.
At the time, GOA did not have an arts department, and pursuing the arts was Mittleman’s dream. As she was planning on leaving, Mr. Shapiro asked if there was a way to keep her at the school, and Mittleman  jokingly suggested starting an arts department. He took the request seriously, and she started working as the first GOA arts coordinator.
“I was here so many hours a day… I was married to my job,” Mittleman said. “It was an internal pressure, but I really wanted [the arts department] to be massively successful.”
Mittleman loved running the arts department, but she missed being on stage herself, so after a few years, she left her job to follow her dreams. She started waiting tables at Cafe Lalo, a cafe in New York famous for its starring role in the movie “You’ve Got Mail.” It was a big transition from working at GOA.
“Here everyone’s really loving, you know, nice and supportive,” Mittleman said. “There, people are screaming at you because you forgot their pesto.”
While waitressing, she began many artistic projects. She started an acapella group, worked on a web series, tutored and periodically visited GOA to work on projects like Kolot HaYam, the school’s choir competition. When she left Cafe Lalo after five months of hard work, they became her primary job and focus.
She was friends with Mr. Herskowitz, and heard from him that there were opening in Student Life and in the arts department. She decided to come back to GOA part-time starting this school year.
“I remember when I used to wake up really happy and excited about what I was going to do, as opposed to feeling terrified,” Mittleman said. “It was so, so nice.”
The school seemed both similar and different to Mittleman from when she worked here the first time. Even though she didn’t know any of the new students, she recognized the school’s upbeat, fun and supportive culture, which is similar to when she first worked here.
“The teachers changed dramatically,” Mittleman said. “When I worked here the first time, it was people who have been here for, probably 40 years… then I came and everyone was young. There was this new energy here, which I thought was really cool and really nice.”
Mittleman currently goes to acting school two times a week and still participates in her acapella club. When she has the opportunity, she hopes to keep working on her web series.
Though Mittleman’s teaching and acting journeys may differ from others, she has been able to try out many different types of work, and find what she prefers.

“I also thought… that the talented people succeed and everybody else is just on the bottom, and I don’t think that at all anymore,” Mittleman said. “There’s so much space out there for everyone.”


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