Meet Our Faculty
Sally has taught in ECS since 2017. She is originally from Israel, where she completed a bachelor’s of education in early childhood and earned her teaching certificate, with a specialization in early childhood and special education. She has more than 12 years of experience teaching children with special needs, and seven years of experience working in elementary schools. Sally has also been a children’s Arabic teacher. Outside the classroom, Sally enjoys baking, cooking, traveling, exercise, and listening to music. Sally lives in Bothell with her husband, Shai, and their two children, Emily and Daniel, the latter currently attending ECS. This year Sally is looking forward to building relationships with the amazing children and families of our school.
Ladan joined the ECS faculty in 2018. She holds an early childhood credential from the Montessori Education Institute of the Pacific Northwest and a bachelor’s in business marketing from City University of Seattle. Prior to joining ECS, Ladan taught at Montessori schools in Bellevue, Issaquah, and Sammamish, as well as schools in Italy, Ghana, and Angola. Born and raised in Iran, Ladan has lived in Seattle for the past 14 years. Outside the classroom, she enjoys painting, cooking, traveling, skiing, and learning new languages. She’s looking forward to creating a safe, nurturing environment to foster development, independence, and intellectual curiosity in her children this year.
Since moving to Seattle in 2000, Alicia has taught for the Seattle Children’s Theater Drama School, Mad Science, Woodland Park Zoo, Pacific Science Center, and Seattle Public Schools, among others. She joined the Mercer Island ECS in 2013, and has taught everything from infants through pre-k. This will be Alicia’s 12th year teaching in a Reggio classroom. Here at ECS, Alicia has served as an Age Group Lead, a mentor teacher for new faculty, and the teacher representative for the Diversity Committee. She earned a Washington State teaching certificate and a master’s degree in elementary education in 2009, specializing in K-2 and gifted education. Alicia is a longtime member of Rainbow City Performing Arts, where she plays French horn and mellophone. She lives in Seward Park with her husband, their dogs, and a very spoiled axolotl.
Presalynn joined ECS in 2017, teaching in the Infants Program. She holds a BA from University of Washington in general studies—special needs advocacy. Prior to joining our faculty, she taught at Seattle Public Schools Head Start for eleven years, Highline Head Start Learning Center for seven years, and spent three years teaching at a private preschool. She has participated in such professional development trainings as Teaching Strategies Gold, ASQ Assessment and Follow-Up, and many more. Presalynn moved to Seattle from St. Louis with her family in 1969. Outside the classroom, Presalynn enjoys walking, riding her bike, beading, thrift-store shopping, museums, nature, and spending time with family and friends. This year, she’s looking forward to new adventures with the children and her co-workers.
Emily joined the ECS faculty in 2018, teaching in the Threes Program, and is now going into her third school year here. Prior to joining our faculty, she has worked as a nanny for three years and made magic for The Walt Disney Company. She has also hosted and planned child-focused events for local communities and worked closely with multiple charities to bring special experiences to children that would otherwise be unavailable to them. Outside the classroom, Emily enjoys spending time with her family and furthering her early childhood education, most recently having attended the 11th Annual Day of Dialogue. Beyond that, she loves to write and create art. “Anything that allows me to perform or use my visual skillsets makes me incredibly happy.” Emily is looking forward to creating special moments with the families in her classroom, and watching the year unfold through the eyes of the children in her class.
Iris joined the ECS staff the summer of 2017. She worked at the ECS for five years back in 1994-1996 and is returning to teach again. She has been in the United States for the past 25 years, and is originally from Israel. Iris received her associates in art and teaching in Jerusalem. Since moving to the United States, she has received her certification for Modern Hebrew teaching through the Tal Am program and taught Hebrew at various Jewish institutions in the greater Seattle area. Before coming to ECS Iris worked as a Sunday school teacher at Chabad High School, Congregation Beth Shalom and as a Hebrew teacher at Seattle Jewish Community School and The Jewish Day School. Iris has also been a licensed hair designer for the past 10 years. She is an established artist who enjoys designing for celebrations, creating Ketubahs, and making handmade jewelry. During her free time, she loves to cook, travel, and spend time with her family including her two sons Nadav and Asaph, and be with friends. Iris became a certified professional life coach in 2013, coaching individuals through grief, loss and major life transitions. She is excited to have the privilege of watching and helping students grow and explore.
Lizzy was born and raised in Missouri. Graduating with a BA in Design Arts and Theatre with a minor in Global Studies and TEFL/TESL certification through Oxford Seminars she also worked in Children’s Theater through college, spent 2 years nannying, and four years as a Lead Teacher in ECE certified schools, with age’s 3mos-5yrs. When not working she enjoys photography and costume design, antique-in, bouldering, and spending time with my friends (or cat, Zelda)! She is excited about forming a solid team with my co-workers and getting to know the students in my class, so we can enjoy each other’s company as we all learn together.
Robin has taught in ECS since 2017; she has experience as a support, ones, and twos teacher. Prior to joining ECS, Robin worked as a lifeguard and swim instructor at the SJCC for 5 years which gave her the opportunity to grow within our JCC community. Since joining at ECS she has obtained her associates degree from Bellevue College and continued her higher education through Seattle University. She is currently working towards a degree in Education to further her teaching abilities and career. As a Seattle native, Robin likes to spend time outdoors, drink coffee, and hang out with her two dogs.
Monika began teaching in the Infants Program in April 2018. She holds a diploma in pre-primary education with a specialization in the Montessori Method, from Teacher Training Society in Calcutta, India. She taught high school in Hyderabad, India, before moving to San Francisco, where she volunteered as a child care provider and Sunday School teacher. Monika has lived in Seattle for three years. When she’s not teaching, she enjoys cooking new recipes, spending time with family, camping, and exploring new places. She’s looking forward to getting to know all the families and beginning this new journey together.
Avital joined the ECS faculty in 2016. She has degrees in art history and English linguistics from Haifa University and Tel Aviv University, and has taken courses in early childhood education and early childhood artistic expression development at West Valley Community College in Saratoga, California. Prior to joining our faculty she worked as a museum professional in Israel, volunteered at her children’s school in San Jose, and, most recently, worked as an enrichment teacher at the J. In her free time she enjoys traveling and hiking with her family, pottery, kayaking, and art. She is looking forward to getting to know the children and their passions and being part of their upcoming year of discovery and growth.
Margaret joined the SJCC faculty in 2016. A Washington native, she holds an early childhood education teaching certificate from UCLA Extension as well as a degree in communication and cultural anthropology from Western Washington University. Prior to joining our school, she taught at a performing arts preschool in San Mateo, California, and taught dance, yoga, and music in various preschools around the San Francisco Bay Area. Margaret has also interned in primary school classrooms, and created a running clinic for young girls. Margaret takes pride in helping curate a thoughtful, inclusive, Reggio and art-enriched community in her classes. She is very excited to continue to learn and grow with all of her new students this year. Outside the classroom, Margaret enjoys spending time with her husband and two dachshunds, cooking, traveling, and playing in the great PNW.
Rachel joined the Mercer Island SJCC Early Childhood School in 2018. She studied Early Childhood Education at Washington State University. She has extensive experience working with young children as well as experience working in the medical field. Additionally she has been living with and helping to take care of her two young nieces who are now 2 and 4 years old. She has worked primarily with toddlers and additionally has spent a significant amount of time working in teaching capacities with other age groups. Rachel has a genuine love for working with kids of all ages. She also has experience working in Special Education as a Paraeducator in both the Bellevue and Mercer Island School Districts. Rachel is a Mercer Island native and is happy to be working so close to home. She enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, reading and hiking. Rachel particularly finds pleasure in doing musical and literacy activities with young children. She too enjoys sharing her love for Jewish holidays, foods, and traditions with children of all ages.
Elise has been here at the JCC preschool, teaching for 2 years now. She is excited to start her 3rd year. Elise loves being interactive, she’s very enthusiastic, and is a caring person in and out of the classroom. She has a passion for working with younger children and very much looks forward to meeting her new classroom of kiddos. Elise completed a 2 year degree in Early childhood education from Bellevue college. She has also been working at Mercer Island’s Mary Wayte Pool now for 7 years, where she enjoys teaching swim lessons to all ages, and lifeguarding. In her free time, Elise enjoys spending time with family/friends, taking photos, relaxing, going on road trips and being outdoors, and cooking. “I am excited to be with the children as they grow and learn this year!”
Mardi joined ECS in 2019. She has a bachelor’s degree in Child Development and Family Relations from NSULA. Before coming to the Pacific Northwest, she was born and raised in rural northern Louisiana. She and her husband moved here in the summer of 2018. The past year Mardi has worked at an early childhood school in Bellevue and is excited to join a new environment on Mercer Island, bringing over 3 years of teaching experience with the under 3’s age range. When she is outside of the classroom, she enjoys knitting, collecting enamel pins and going to her local library.
Haley joined the ECS staff in 2019. A graduate of Gonzaga University, majored in Psychology, minored in Criminal Justice and Women and Gender studies. Prior to working at the JCC, she spent time at a local Montessori school in the Seattle area. When not working, Haley enjoys going to live music events, art, singing, spending time with friends and family, snowboarding and cuddling with her cat Poppy. She is looking forward to building strong relationships with new kids and families while maintaining the ones she has forged this year. She is also looking forward to getting to work with some of the other amazing ECS teachers and so grateful to be a part of this community!
Kim returned to her native Seattle after 8 years on the East Coast and rejoined the ECS faculty in 2017 after 15 years away. She holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from University of Washington and a culinary certificate from Le Cordon Bleu in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Kim taught in 3s, 4s, and Infant Programs for five years at Country Village Day School and Stroum JCC. After working as a restaurant manager and a bookseller for a few years, Kim moved to Massachusetts and attended culinary school. Kim found her way back to working with children as a preschool chef and 1s teacher for the Children’s Corner. Kim is looking forward to another year pursuing her passion for education and child development. Kim’s other passion is aerial circus arts, she has been doing since 2009.
Benjamin began teaching in our 1s Program in 2015. He studied early childhood education at Shoreline and North Seattle Community Colleges. Prior to joining our faculty, he taught for nine years at the 70th and Sandpoint Preschool and two years at Northgate Preschool. During that time he completed the Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE)® Foundations course and attended the Men in Early Childhood Education Conference in Oahu, Hawaii. A Seattle native, Benjamin is looking forward to continuing to expand his knowledge of early childhood education and getting to know the kids and families. Outside of the classroom, Benjamin enjoys hiking, camping, and bicycling around the Puget Sound.
Megan began teaching in ECS in March 2019. A Washington native, she is currently a student at Bellevue College pursuing a Bachelors’ of Science in Nursing Degree. Prior to teaching in ECS, she was a nanny for 7 years, working with children ages 4 months- 6 years. Megan enjoys hiking, camping, and spending time with her family and dogs.
I have attended the University of Central Oklahoma for Philosophy and Creative Writing. I attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles for Fashion Design. I have received all my 30 hours of STARS taring as well as a full day at Day of Dialogue during the spring. I have also been here for all the pro-D we have done here at the J since December. I have worked with children since I was 12, and was an avid babysitter. However, as an adult I began working in 2016 at an Early Childhood Center in Colorado with 1-2 year olds. I also have studied and read extensively on my own about how to best support the growth and development of children into capable, independent, compassionate leaders of tomorrow. My family and I love being outside and going on adventures! We love to travel around the world or just jump in the car and road trip across the country. Out favorite road trip has been up the 1 from San Diego to Seattle. In 2018, my family backpacked Europe for 6 months! I also enjoy to read and to karaoke! I for sure sing loud and proud! I grew up and was born in Southern California, but I have lived in IL, NM, CO, WY, OK, NE, UT, CA, WA. I love to watch the kids develop throughout the year.
Kristin has been at ECS since 2013, teaching in our 2s and 3s programs. She holds a bachelor’s degree in children’s studies from Eastern Washington University with a minor in communications and an associate degree in early childhood education from Bellevue College. She has attended several professional development trainings including Understanding Misbehaviors, Brain Biology, Teaching Self-Regulation Skills (2015); Engineering Design, Thinking and Action (2016); Promoting First Relationships workshop in Seattle (2017); and “Curriculum” and Understanding Relationships in the Field of Early Childhood Education (2018). Alongside teaching, since 2005, Kristin has taught karate at the Washington Karate Association’s Kinder Karate Program to children ages 3-6. Kristin was born in Fukuoka, Japan, but grew up in the Seattle area. She loves to play ‘tourist’ and explore and photograph new areas she has not yet been. She looks forward to creating many more relationships with the families and children of the ECS community.
Kristen joined the ECS faculty in 2017 after nine years as a swim instructor at the SJCC. She has been teaching swimming around Seattle since 2002. She recently attended an introductory course on Magda Gerber’s Educaring® Approach. A West Seattle native, Kristen enjoys camping, swimming, gardening, painting, and spending time with her son. She’s looking forward to meeting new friends and families.
Judy began teaching in ECS during the 2017-18 school year. She holds a BA in elementary education with a minor in music. She taught kindergarten for six years and elementary school for more than 20 years in Kake, Alaska, where she lived until July 2017. Outside the classroom, Judy likes to run, hike, camp, play Frisbee, embroider, and travel.
Christina joined our faculty in 2019 and comes with years of experience in the education field. Prior to working at the JCC, she ran an in-home preschool and worked at the YMCA in Spokane as well as being a licensed insurance agent for over 20 years. Before her family came to the area, they have also lived in Los Angeles, Texas and Germany. She enjoys working with all age groups, especially infants through threes. She is looking forward to creating long lasting relationships with fellow teachers and staff as well as connecting with the children and their families in a meaningful way.
Irene has been working at ECS since 1998. She has taught in our 1s, 2s and 3s Programs for more than 21 years, and worked in our Infants Program. She has been attending Crib to Classroom Conferences for more than a decade, and has attended the 2015 Seattle Infant Toddler Conference, workshops in Positive Discipline and Jewish education, and Seattle Child Care Resources Conference (2017). Day of Dialogue (2018). She recently visited Epiphany school with Reggio Emilia inspiring approach for learning experience. Prior to ECS, Irene worked at Shoreline Community College’s preschool. Irene holds a degree in finance from a university in Russia, and also studied at Shoreline Community College. A Russian native, Irene has lived in Seattle since 1993. An active learner, Irene enjoys studying the resources of Reggio Emilia teaching philosophies and is always working to expand her knowledge. When she is not teaching, Irene enjoys spending time with her family and friends (especially her grandchildren, Leo and Olivia), reading, cooking, gardening, and hiking.
Angi has taught at the SJCC Early Childhood School since September 2013. Prior to joining our faculty, she taught in a one-year-old classroom at Our Beginning Childcare in Fremont for two years and worked as a teacher’s assistant and librarian’s assistant at the Bear Creek School in Redmond for four years. In 2015 Angi attended a conference sponsored by UW about Mindfulness Based Reflective Practice as it applies to Education. In 2016, Angi gave a presentation at the Reggio Day of Dialogue Conference about “Context-Based Environmental Provocations.” In the spring of 2017, she attended the Promoting First Relationships conference. In 2019 Angi was able to attend an Israel Education Seminar sponsored by The Sheva Center. When not in the classroom, Angi loves taking trips to Disneyland, drinking iced mochas, doing crafty things, listening to True Crime podcasts and spending time with her friends, family, boyfriend, and cat, named Baby.
Jordan has been teaching in ECS since September 2016. He is currently pursuing an associate degree at Shoreline Community College. Prior to teaching at our school, Jordan worked at Montessori schools in Sacramento, San Diego, and Seattle. Outside the classroom, Jordan enjoys reading, playing basketball, hiking, and spending time with friends.
Megan has been teaching at ECS since 2019. She holds two bachelor degrees from California State University, Monterey Bay in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Education in Special Services. She also holds a teaching credential in Special Education from Sonoma State University. Her work experience at Adventures by Disney helped her create and implement youth programs for ages 2-6 years old. She worked at Camp Scherman as an inclusion specialist for five summers as well as outdoor programming for kids with special needs aged 2-10 years old. She has been teaching a school in Washington since 2016 and looks forward to continuing her learning. Outside of work, Megan enjoys mountain biking, hiking, hanging out with her dog, and reading.
Nicole joined the ECS faculty at the start of the 2017-18 school year. Before entering the field of early childhood education, Nicole was in the fashion industry. She discovered her passion for working with children when she and her husband volunteered for a non-profit organization at a foster home in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She moved to Chicago the following year (2014), where she got her paraprofessional preparation certification at Seton Montessori Institute, and has been working with children ever since. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, taking pictures, and spending time at the lake during warm summer days.
Lucy has taught in Israel for many years for kids ages 5-8 years, and specializes in Special Education. Lucy holds a master’s degree; during her program she did intensive research about kids’ drawings and invented a new tool to diagnose and recognize learning disabilities just from drawings. Lucy speaks several languages (including Hebrew, Arabic, English, and French) and has worked in daycare centers across Europe. Lucy and her husband have three kids and a dog name Honey. She enjoys traveling, hiking, swimming, and cooking.
Stacy has over 30 years of teaching experience, caring for children from infants to 5 years of age. Stacy recently relocated to the Seattle area from Tucson, AZ, where she worked at the Tucson JCC holding a variety of different positions in their early childhood school. She is the proud mother of 3 beautiful children and 2 amazing grandsons. She loves to spend time with family and friends, loves going to the lake and the mountains. Her favorite place to travel to is the ocean. She loves plants, flowers, and learning to garden, as well as music and going to musical performances. She also likes attending sporting events, especially baseball, and enjoys floral designing and jewelry making. She is looking forward to getting to know more families here and participating in committees that will continue to make the ECS program amazing.
In the 17 years Laurie has been at ECS she has taught in the 2s, 3s, and 4s Programs. She has been a literacy coach in the Seeds of Empathy program, spent five years on ECS’s parent-teacher committee, and attended the practicum for Story Workshop at the Opal School in Portland, Oregon. A Dallas native, Laurie holds a BFA from the University of Texas in Austin. Prior to joining our faculty, Laurie was a substitute teacher for ECS, and a volunteer art docent at Endeavour Elementary School in Issaquah. Laurie believes strongly in the value of tzedakah (charity/righteousness) and has been organizing ECS food drives and field trips to local food pantries for over a dozen years. Outside the classroom Laurie enjoys spending time with family, working at Jubilee Farm (CSA), scrapbooking, jewelry making, walking, baking, shopping and reading.
Neressa joined the ECS faculty in 2018. She had previously been teaching at a Chabad school in Seattle and summer camp in Issaquah since her arrival in Seattle in 2017. She previously taught in Dallas Texas within the Jewish community. She has a background in Office management. She is originally from South Africa and has lived all over the United States with extended stays in Texas, New Jersey and Minnesota. Neressa enjoys all sports, racing, cooking, baking, animals, live music, travelling, and making new friends.
Emily has worked in ECS since 2011 in the 2s, 3s, and 4s Programs, and as a support teacher. She spent the 2015-16 school year as the SJCC’s Youth and Family Programs Coordinator. Previous experience includes nine summers at Camp Thunderbird and teaching outdoor education on Cape Cod. She has spent many summers at the SJCC helping lead and direct camps, ranging from Camp Katan to Cooking Camp. Emily holds a degree in elementary education with middle school endorsements from Bradley University. She also earned her masters of Science education from UW and has a certification in environment education and community from IslandWood on Bainbridge Island. Emily previously attended Crib to Classroom conference, an intensive practicum at Santa Monica’s Evergreen Community School in 2014, and more recently, the Boulder Journey School Summer Conference in June of 2019. When she is not teaching, Emily loves arts and crafts, photography, playing pinball, thrift shopping, gardening, hiking, and biking. Emily is looking forward to another year of helping to build strong relationships between children and their natural environment.
Sofya has been teaching in ECS since 1992, in the 1s, 2s, and 3s Programs. She has attended a variety of professional development opportunities in Jewish education, as well as Crib to Classroom (2011, 2013) and Day of Dialogue (2015, 2016) conferences. Originally from Ukraine, Sofya came to the United States in 1989 with her husband and two boys, who were 8 and 4 years old. Now Sofya is a grandma to two lovely grandchildren, Tyler and Brandon. She loves her job and the people she works with. She strongly believes it’s her second home, where she’s building partnerships with families and teachers in the ECS community. Outside work she likes to read, cook, and spend time with her family and friends.
Caitlyn joined the ECS faculty at the end of the 2013-14 school year, and has taught in the 3s and 4s Programs. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Family Studies from the University of Washington. A Seattle native, Caitlyn has been working with kids since she was 9 years old, in churches (including her current church where she works as an administrative assistant for Kids Ministry), at the Woodland Park Zoomazium, internships, and at various summer camps. A self-proclaimed Disney nerd, Caitlyn enjoys reading, writing stories, singing, playing board games, attending as much theatre as possible, and spending time with family and friends. After an amazing, inspiring trip to the Boulder Journey School conference at the end of the 2019 school year, she is excited to pioneer new things, challenge her own habituations, and, as Ms. Frizzle would say, “take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!”
Jessica has been working in ECS since 2010. She has also been our school’s New Hire Coordinator since 2015 and supervising the Infant Program as an Education Coordinator since 2017. Jessica has attended many professional development opportunities including the RIE® Foundations Course (2019), Introduction to the Educaring® Approach (2018), Michael Gramling’s “Talk to Children Like People: Seeking Equity Through Language Rich Classrooms” (2018), Dan Sigel’s “The Yes Brain: How to Cultivate Courage, Curiosity and Resilience in Your Child” (2018), NAREA Conference (2016), Day of Dialogue (2015, 2016,2019), Crib to Classroom Workshop (2012, 2013, 2015), and Story Workshop at the Opal School during the 2012-2013 school year. A Washington native, Jessica holds a B.S. in psychology from the University of Oregon. Outside the classroom, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their two Jack Russell Terriers, working on art and Design, as well as home remodeling, and rooting for the Oregon Ducks. This year, Jessica is looking forward to fostering continued learning with the ECS new hires and developing strong connections with the children in her classroom.
Melissa joined the ECS faculty in June 2015. She holds a B.A. in educational studies with minors in U.S. history and art from Knox College. Melissa taught in the 3s and 4s Programs at the Chicago JCC for nine years, and spent seven years teaching three-year-olds in Naperville, Illinois. She also taught high school math in the Chicago Public School District, and spent two years as a Space Camp instructor for 9-18-year-olds. Outside the classroom, Melissa enjoys reading, music, flying, following the space program, and traveling. A transplant from Chicago, Melissa is looking forward to working with the students and teachers this year. “I’m excited to see the joy on the children’s faces as they discover new things.”
Lupe has been working in early childhood education since 2007. She is currently obtaining her Associates degree in early childhood education from LWTech. Lupe joined the JCC in March 2019 and has enjoyed working with the 3s program. Lupe moved to Yakima when she was 8 years old from Mexico and then moved to the Seattle area in 2006. When not at work, she enjoys exploring nature, going on hikes, especially to waterfalls. She also enjoys the beach and anywhere close to water. She is also a huge Seahawks fan and enjoys helping others. She is looking forward to the upcoming year and learning more about Judaics and culture.
Gabriella has worked with all age groups as part of the ECS support staff since 2017. In 2018-19, she worked in the 2s program and also continued as support staff. Originally from Zurich, Switzerland, she holds a Ph.D. in biology and a pharmacist degree from ETH Zurich, Switzerland. She was a Roots of Empathy instructor for six years and was a Girl Scouts troop leader for 16 years for ages K-12. Outside the classroom, she enjoys sculling, hiking, gardening and reading. She is looking forward to continue learning from her co-teachers and to learn, explore, and discover with the students.
Amelia is excited to join our faculty this year. For the past 2 years, she worked at a Reggio inspired preschool at the American International School in Israel. She is a graduate of Western Washington University with a Bachelors of Education degree in ECE. She is a Spokane native and is excited to move back to Washington State. She enjoys traveling, hiking, kayaking, skiing, art, cooking and gardening. She is looking forward to building new relationships with the children, families and colleagues.