ECS Faculty + Staff

Introducing the teachers and classrooms for 2023-24 School Year

Administration | Infant Classrooms | One-Twos Classrooms | Two-Threes Classrooms | Three-Fours Classrooms | Pre-K | Kindergarten | Support Staff

Administration

Carrie Stull | Director, Early Childhood 206-388-1992
Carrie Stull has been the director of early childhood at the SJCC since 2018.  She holds her BA in science and has been in early childhood education for over twenty years. She has years of experience working with special needs and that is one of her true passions.  She has attended many professional developments including an education seminar in Israel, reflective supervision, and is a trainer on Positive Discipline. Carrie has four of her own children and has been married for over twenty years. Prior to working in early childhood, she was in the US Army where she served in Korea as part of a military intelligence unit. In her free time, she enjoys soccer, soccer, and more soccer, spending time with her family and watching movies. “There is no greater joy than spending my days with children.”


Tara Bloomer | Associate Director
Tara has been working with the ECS since March 2007. She spent many years teaching in both the two’s and three’s programs before joining the ECS Leadership Team. Tara stepped into the role of Education Coordinator in 2015 and the role of Associate Director in 2017. Tara holds a B.S. in psychology from the University of Washington. She has created programs for our school like the year-long New Hire Orientation Program and served as the New Hire Coordinator for the first year of its existence. Since then, Tara has worked alongside the new hire coordinators as the program has evolved. In her time here, Tara has also focused on developing committees for teacher retention and appreciation. She continues to educate herself as a professional by attending as many conferences and workshops as possible. Some of her favorites include annual Day of Dialogues, NAREA, Promoting First Relationships workshop, the Reflective Supervision—Zero to Three conference, and visiting the Opal School for their Summer Symposium. Outside of the classroom, Tara enjoys spending time with her family and finding new, fun activities to do with her children. Both of her older children had amazing journeys through the SJCC. Her youngest son is now in the one’s program enjoying his experience here as well. Tara looks forward to building on her relationships with the children, families, and teachers of ECS in the coming year.


Shayna Giuliano | Associate Director
Shayna has been a member of our ECS faculty since 2010- but she’s been a member of our SJCC community since 1996, when her family moved to Mercer Island from Los Angeles. Shayna taught in the 3s and Pre-Kindergarten Programs for her first four years on our faculty. In 2014, Shayna joined the Leadership Team as Education Coordinator, then she became ECS Assistant Director in 2016, and ECS Associate Director in 2017. Shayna graduated from the University of Washington with Honors with a B.A. in sociology. Additionally, Shayna earned a certificate in teacher leadership and a Masters of Education in Instructional Leadership, both also from UW. Shayna has participated in many professional  development conferences, including the Boulder Journey School Summer Conference, Opal School Summer Symposium, Seeds of Empathy training, an intensive practicum at the Evergreen Community School, numerous Day of Dialogue conferences, the UW’s Mindfulness Research Conference, Promoting First Relationships training, and multiple Reflective Supervision & Consultation trainings, to name a few. In her role on the Leadership Team, Shayna especially enjoys building authentic relationships with children, teachers, and families in our school, and inspiring joy in every interaction.


Margaret Farlin-Forbes | Education Coordinator
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.


Sophie Miller | Admin. Coordinator 206-388-1999 hhh hhhh Sophie supports administrative and HR roles in both ECS and Administration at SJCC. She has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a certificate in Life Coaching and a passion for humans. She loves seeing the children each day and helping to organize various procedures behind the scenes. You can email questions about enrollment or ECS program availability to Sophie and she will be happy to answer or direct your inquiries accordingly. Outside of work, Sophie has various creative hobbies including poetry writing, fashion photography, sewing, jewelry making, and coding.

Infant Classrooms

Jordan River Classroom

Monika Das

Monika Das
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.

Ryan Jess
Ryan has been working with kids since working at a yoga retreat center in British Columbia in 2007. He spent five years as a stay-at-home dad and has been providing childcare to friends and family since. Ryan graduated from Edmonds Community College in 2006 with an Associate of Arts focused on music. Ryan attended Western Washington University from 2014 to 2016 studying human services, human development, and political science. Ryan was recruited by a friend to teach at Wallingford Childcare Center in 2018 where he worked as a lead classroom teacher and staff representative to the board of directors. In 2019, he was trained to teach Music Together, a music curriculum for infants to pre-k. Ryan completed the RIE Foundations (Resources for Infant Educarers) in August 2019. Ryan observed the infant room while taking the RIE course and was elated to join SJCC in September 2021.


Bat Yam Classroom

Olivia Boyd
Olivia joined the ECS faculty in 2023. She grew up in West Seattle and holds a bachelor of science in kinesiology and minor in psychology from Chapman University in California. Prior to joining ECS, she worked as an EMT, nanny, behavior technician, and volleyball coach. She has been babysitting and nannying since high school and loves working with little ones. Outside the classroom, Olivia coaches club volleyball—one of her longtime passions. She is excited to facilitate growth, exploration, and learning with all her curious kiddos in ECS.

Steffanie Noell
Steffanie joined the ECS faculty in 2023. She is very outgoing, adventurous, compassionate, and full of life. She has worked with children for the past seven years, ranging in age from six weeks old to five years old. In 2014, she graduated from University of Nevada, Reno, with a bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies. She feels very lucky to have found her dream job in which she is able to watch children grow at their own pace and be their mentor along the way. Steffanie loves the outdoors, and can often be found camping, hiking, biking, or skiing. She also loves music and traveling, and when she’s not exploring the outdoors, she’s usually planning a trip or at a concert.

Kelly Blandon
Kelly joined the ECS faculty in 2023. She was born in Cali, Colombia, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in social communication and journalism. She moved to Seattle in 2020 to work as an au pair. Since then, she has been an au pair and a nanny for several families.  Outside the classroom, Kelly enjoys spending time with her friends, cooking, traveling, and reading books. She is very excited to continue to learn and grow with all families and students this year.


One-Twos Classrooms

Kinneret Classroom

Emily Jane Schankerman
Emily was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. After her undergraduate studies at Bradley University, she moved to the Seattle area, continuing her passion and focus for outdoor education earning a masters from UW with a certificate of Environment, Education, and Community from IslandWood, located on Bainbridge Island. During her previous decade-long stint in ECS, Emily Jane served in both support roles and as a classroom teacher. She spent the majority of her years in the 2s programs, but also taught in the 3s and 4s, and even led the one-year outdoor class and virtual sessions during the early days of the pandemic. Emily stepped away from the SJCC for a year-long educational opportunity, in which she earned her Montessori teaching certificate. She returned to ECS in 2023 with a new knowledgebase to help create a well-rounded classroom, but her heart is happiest in Reggio Emilia philosophy, connecting children with their environment, through art integration, Judaic influences, and joy! Outside the classroom, Emily loves spending time with her friends, going on hikes, and playing pinball. Her passion for the great outdoors, photography, art, and crafts is often integrated into her classrooms and workdays. She is looking forward to being back at a place that felt like home, with a dynamic and caring school of educators.

Chris Sparks
Chris joined ECS in 2023. Originally from Pompano Beach, Florida, Chris is a seasoned early learning teacher with a diverse background in working with children on the spectrum. He is a huge advocate for inclusive education and ensuring that learning is accessible to all students. Beyond the classroom, Chris’s passions include sewing and creating apparel, indulging in new movie experiences with his family, enjoying a wide array of music genres, and exploring new destinations through travel.  He is dedicated to creating lasting memories for his students and is excited for the upcoming year.

Ayano Ketkhounaroun
Ayano joined the ECS faculty in 2023. She was born and raised in Japan where she earned an MA in biology. After graduating, she wanted to further pursue education and experiences so she moved to the United States. While attending college she was able to work and gain experience in different fields, one of which was early childhood education where she discovered what she enjoys doing! She has taught and cared for children professionally for over eight years. Being surrounded by children, seeing their reactions and the innocent look in their eyes brings her joy. She is constantly reminded of how precious life is. In her spare time, she volunteers at local schools assisting in arts and crafts and spending time with her beautiful children. They love to listen and dance to music together.


Eilat Classroom

Mardi Gauthier

Mardi Gauthier
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.

Katie Statema
Katie joined ECS in 2023. After living in both Los Angeles and Spokane, Katie recently returned to her true home in the beautiful PNW. Katie has bachelor’s degrees in psychology and pre-medicine. With her lifelong interest in supporting the youth in our community, Katie is overjoyed to be spending her time with the young learners at ECS. Katie also enjoys quilting, coffee shops, a variety of nature-centered activities, and taking her dog all around town.

Ashley Harris, ECS 2021-22

Ashley Harris
Ashley joined the ECS Faculty in 2022, bringing more than 21 years of experience working with children from infant through preschool. She has also taught English in Japan and worked for an international adoption agency. Ashley has three children and four grandchildren. In addition to spending time with her family, she loves working with children and watching them discover new skills and abilities every day.


Be’er Sheva Classroom

Hayley Goritzki

Haley Goritski
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!

Maria Hemstad
Maria Hemstad joined the ECS faculty in 2023. A Washington native, she loves spending time with her nieces and nephews in the area. She is excited to begin work in the education field and is eager to connect with the ECS community.


Two-Threes Classrooms

Golan Heights Classroom

Tamar Bayer, ECS 2020-21

Tamar Bayer
Tamar was born in New York, but moved to Israel in high school. While in Israel she lived mostly in Haifa and graduated from Haifa University with a B.A. in social work. Tamar moved to Bellevue over 20 years ago. She began teaching Hebrew and Sunday school at Temple De Hirsch Sinai soon after moving to the area. When her children started preschool there, she began to sub in the preschool classroom. She later became a 2s teacher and also taught preschool’s Judaic programming. Most recently, Tamar taught ages 3-5-years in the Bellevue Public Schools. In 2020, Tamar completed her Initial Early Childhood Certificate at Bellevue College. During her free time, Tamar enjoys cooking, baking, and spending time with her family. She and her husband have 2 young adult children and a fur-baby (dog). Tamar is excited to begin working at the JCC. She is looking forward to meeting new coworkers, families, and children.

Savas Sanin, ECS 2021-22

Savas Sanin
Savas joined the ECS faculty in 2022. He was born and raised in Turkey and graduated from the school of medicine in 1990. He holds a post-graduation degree in the medical field. Savas has worked with children since he moved to the United States five years ago. He is driven by two main philosophies: see the positive side of everything and be respectful to nature. In his free time, he likes to write poetry and cook.

Chen Istay
Chen joined the ECS faculty in 2023. She was born and raised in Israel, relocated to Rochester, New York, in 2018, and finally moved to Washington in 2020. Chen holds a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from Ono Academic College and brings unique experience from her work with toddlers on the autism spectrum. A dedicated professional, she has spent a handful of years in the Israeli education system, pouring her heart and soul into providing quality education for her students. Chen and her husband are the proud parents of two kids, Yarin and Adam. In her free time, Chen loves to travel and enjoys stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) on Sammamish Lake. 


Gilboa Classroom

Kristin Mannari

Kristin Mannari
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.

Sofya Spektor

Sofya Spektor
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.

Hannah Leahy
A recent college graduate, Hannah joined the ECS faculty in 2023. She is excited to join the SJCC family and looks forward to meeting plenty of new faces. In her free time, she loves to sing, swim, bake, read, watch shows, and listen to music. She also loves animals, and her favorite animal is a manatee. Feel free to ask her about some more of her favorite things!


Tabor Classroom

Sam Bell, ECS 2021-22

Sam Bell
Born and raised in Seattle, Sam joined the Early Childhood School in 2022. Sam holds a bachelor’s degree in educational studies from the University of Washington. Prior to completing her BA, she played two years of college soccer for Shoreline Community College women’s soccer team while completing her associate’s degree. Prior to joining ECS, Sam worked at the West Seattle YMCA as a lifeguard, swim instructor, and swim team coach. Outside the classroom, Sam loves going to the beach or lake, swimming, playing soccer, traveling, playing sports, and attending sporting events.

Sveta Crabtree
Sveta Crabtree joined the ECS faculty in 2023. She was born in Russia and holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. She worked as a researcher at the University of Victoria in Canada for several years before she married and moved to Seattle in 1995. Sveta started volunteering in her youngest daughter’s preschool in 2007, and has continued to work with children ever since. After gaining further education, she obtained an early childhood education certificate from Bellevue College. Sveta is inspired by children’s creativity, as well as the excitement and curiosity children exhibit when they explore the world around them.

Chae Christensen
Chae joined the ESC team in the summer of 2023. He has lived in Washington his entire life, and graduated from Western Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and human services, along with a minor in education and social justice. He spent his graduation year in lockdown, and once he was free to enter the workforce Chae became a psychiatric child care counselor at Western State. He continued with his passion of working with children and worked as a K-2 special education para educator. He joined ECS in 2023 and is excited about the Reggio philosophy and to continue with his learning. Chae is passionate about teaching and is looking forward to the upcoming year at ECS. When Chae is not working with children he finds himself watching reality TV and taking short walks to the store.


Ashdod Classroom

Irene Moshenskiy

Irene Moshenskiy
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.

Kim Goulter-Dunn, ECS 2020-21

Kim Goulter-Dunn
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 the 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.


Three-Fours Classrooms

Kibbutz Classroom

Mariel Campoverde ECS

Mariel Campoverde
Mariel Campoverde joined the ECS faculty in 2022. She is a recent graduate from Seattle University with a degree in environmental studies and fine arts. She is originally from San Francisco and moved to Seattle a few years ago. Mariel has worked with young children in a variety of positions over the past seven years, and has also worked with kids of all ages as a camp counselor, tutor, mentor, and outdoor educator. In her spare time, she loves exploring the outdoors, gardening, and reading. Mariel loves to observe how each individual child learns and engages with the world around them and she is excited to learn alongside them in ECS!


Tiberias Classroom

Alina Shehova ECS

Alina Shehova
Alina has been teaching children ages 2-6 for more than 17 years. She holds a master’s degree in ecology with a CDA certification. Outside the classroom, she enjoys going no walks with her family, visiting new places in the greater Seattle area, and traveling. “Strive for progress, not perfection.”

Sara Fish
Sara joined the ECS faculty in 2023. She graduated from Edmonds Community College in 2011 with a degree in early childhood education and has worked in various preschools. She loves working with children: “Seeing their curiosity and love of learning is so inspiring and rewarding!” She lives in Issaquah with her husband Scott and their black lab, Masy. Outside the classroom, Sara loves to cook, watch new shows or movies, go thrift shopping, and relax outside.


Haifa Classroom

Bat-El Falah
Bat-El joined the ECS faculty in 2023. She has experience working with children of all ages and is excited to have a positive impact on the lives of the children in her classroom. Bat-El was born and raised in Israel and recently moved to the US. “Be the change you want in the world.”

Sally Avraham
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.

Brit Shay
Brit joined the ECS faculty in May 2023. She has 10+ years of experience as an education professional and holds a master’s in environmental education. She is a professional Hebrew teacher and curriculum developer and recently moved to Washington with her family after spending five years living in Asia and Europe. Brit grew up in Israel and has worked in the Israeli Ministry of Education as a coordinator of nationwide reform in learning disabilities and accommodation. She has taught Hebrew at several leading institutions, including the University of Virginia, and has even developed LG’s smart TVs as a language


Pre-K Classrooms

Jerusalem Classroom

Moran May-Rom ECS

Moran May-Rom
Moran rejoined the ECS faculty in 2022. He is originally from Israel, where he completed a master’s in physical education and worked for five years as an elementary school physical education and science teacher. He also served as a medic in the IDF’s artillery forces. After moving to Chicago in 2014, he worked as a teacher at Bayit Afterschool and Solomon Schechter Day School and a sports specialist at Ramah Day Camp. Moran moves to Seattle in 2016 and began teaching in ECS. In 2019, he became a stay-at-home dad for his twin girls. Outside the classroom, Moran is also passionate about sports and fitness. He was a professional volleyball player in Israel’s first league and later became a coach and trainer. He enjoys working out, baking, and singing (admittedly off-key). He is looking forward to meeting his new students and seeing them grow and develop in the ECS family.

Tamarra McCain - ECS faculty

Tamarra McCain
Tamarra joined the ECS Support Staff in 2022. She graduated from WWU in 2016 with a degree in psychology and received her MS in family and human development in 2019 from ASU. She has worked with children and families for over a decade. Tamarra and her husband live in Lynwood with their 11-year-old orange tabby. Outside the classroom, she loves to cook, read, and create art in many different forms.  


Tel Aviv Classroom

Iris Brumer

Iris Brumer
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.

Adena Levi, ECS 2020-21

Adena Levi
Adena Levi started at the SJCC in February 2020. She was born in New York but has lived in Florida, Texas, and Israel. She moved to Washington in 2019. Adena has her BAE in elementary education with certification in primary education, English speakers of other languages, and pre-kindergarten disabilities. She is a 26-year veteran early childhood educator who has taught in both public and private schools. Adena’s heart, soul, and passion go into her teaching. She takes great pride in establishing a good rapport with her administrators, coworkers, parents, and students. Adena and her husband, Michael, have been married for 17 years. They currently reside in Kirkland. Adena loves to travel, keep in touch with family and friends, exercise, read, and watch TV.


Netanya Classroom

Yasmin Sorto

Yasmin Sorto
Yasmin is originally from Los Angeles and moved to the Seattle area in 2008. She has been teaching for over 17 years and loves nature and learning new things. Yasmin looks forward to getting to know everyone and creating lasting relationships with the families and children in the school.

Jessica Hass

Jessica Hass
Jessica was born and grew up in Washington. In 2018, she graduated from the University of Washington with a B.A. in Early Childhood and Family Studies, focusing on teaching and learning, with a minor in history. She has experience volunteering with children aged three to kindergarten. She previously worked at a preschool for three years. In her free time, Jessica loves spending time outside, especially camping and hiking. She also enjoys reading and crocheting. She is excited to get to know the children and learning with them.

Esteban Naranjo ECS

Esteban Naranjo
Esteban joined the ECS faculty in 2022. He was born in Quito, Ecuador, where he studied journalism at the Universidad Central de Ecuador. He completed English proficiency studies at Edmonds Community College, where he was also working on an associates’ degree. Prior to joining ECS, Esteban worked with kids from preschool to high school as a P.E. and music teacher. He is also a certified tennis coach — during his employment at the Colegio de Liga in Ecuador, his team earned first place two years in a row.  Esteban has worked in early childhood education for the past four years. He is a professionally trained singing teacher, and loves to enrich his classrooms with music. Outside the classroom, he enjoys playing live music with his band, going to the gym, and coaching tennis.


Ca’esarea Classroom

Kristi Werner

Kristie Werner
Kristie, or Kiki as her friends call her, has lived in the Seattle area for 14 1/2 years. She graduated with a BA in Music from Sacramento State University in 1998 specializing in vocal performance. She was teaching music full-time (voice and piano lessons) from 2013-2019, when she realized she needed something a little more steady that would also free up her evenings to pursue her passion for performing. She knew she was great with kids, so she took a job teaching preschool, and that was it! She was hooked! This last year she received her Child Development Associate Credential and is over the moon to bring that new knowledge as well as her love of music and art, to SJCC! In her free time, Kiki performs in musicals in theaters all around the Puget Sound area. She also loves camping with her wife and dog and hosting game nights!

Amanda Denney

Amanda Denney
Amanda (she/her) is originally from Texas where she earned her BS in Early Childhood/Elementary Education. She has 17 years of teaching experience in both the public and private sectors, specializing in Transitional Kindergarten and Special Education in Texas, California, and Washington. She moved to Seattle in the summer of 2019 and currently resides in West Seattle. Outside of work, Amanda is growing her green thumb as a new homeowner who inherited 5 fruit trees and numerous mysteries in her garden. On her days off, you’ll find her playing her harmonica, baking for her girlfriend, or reading in her hammock. She loves puzzles, people, and pie! Amanda is looking forward to growing her knowledge of the Reggio Emilia practice and becoming part of the wonderful community at the J!

Peymaneh Mollazadehherisi
Peymaneh joined the ECS faculty in 2023. She holds a degree in children’s art instruction. Her passion for art started from a young age and she credits the growth of her talent to the encouragement that she received from her parents and professional art teachers. She has taught art techniques to children for about two years. She always tries to tap into children’s “inner artist,” which she truly believes we all possess. Peymaneh believes art gives children the space to create, find purpose, and learn new skills.


Kindergarten

Tsfat Classroom

Melissa Uhlmann

Melissa Uhlmann
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.”


Support Staff

Jamaica Davis

Jamaica Davis – Creative Beginnings + Gardening Specialist
Jamaica Davis joined the Stroum JCC ECS in October of 2020. She graduated recently from Seattle Central College with an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelor of Applied Science, and will attend the University of Washington in the fall of 2021 for her graduate program in social work. Jamaica is passionate about reducing boundaries for children and their families to services and education, especially those with special needs. Equity and diversity are her top priorities as she seeks to further her professional career. Her favorite pedagogies in early childhood education are Reggio Emilia, Montessori, and Magda Gerber’s Educaring Approach (RIE). She is proud to be part of an educational system that constantly demonstrates a reverence for the rights of children and a profound trust in their natural ability to learn.  When she’s not a classroom teacher, her hobbies include playing the guitar, snowboarding, swimming, sailing, gardening, and getting out into nature. Her wonderful daughter Ella has just graduated from Ballard High School and is preparing for college. She lives with her loving partner Mark on Capitol Hill.

Gabriella Wyle

Gabriella Wyle
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 continuing to learn from her co-teachers and to learn, explore, and discover with the students.

Sofia Masoumian
Sofia joined the ECS faculty in 2022. She has been a teacher for 11 years, teaching preschool to first grade. Her philosophy is that each child is unique in his or her own way and might learn in different ways than others. By acknowledging this as their teacher, she is able to help children discover their individuality and work alongside them to maximize learning. Sofia looks forward to instilling in your child the same great love for learning that she has developed over the years.

ECS teacher Andrea Madrid

Andrea Madrid
Andrea has been working in ECS as a support teacher for all age groups since 2022. She has worked with young children over the past 10 years as a nanny and pediatric medical assistant. She has always had a passion for helping others and working with children. Outside of teaching, Andrea enjoys weightlifting, reading, and trying new foods and restaurants.

Amy Hardisty
Amy Hardisty joined the ECS faculty in 2023. She was born and raised on Mercer Island, graduating from Mercer Island High School in 2009. In 2013, she graduated from Western Washington University with a BA in psychology. She completed a graphic design program in New York in 2017, before moving to Los Angeles, where she worked as a paraeducator and substitute teacher. A certified yoga teacher, Amy enjoys traveling, painting, dancing, hiking, meditation, and spending time with the people she loves. 

Benjamin Jensen

Benjamin Jensen
Benjamin began teaching in ECS 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.