Introducing the teachers and classrooms for 2020-21 School Year
SJCCtv: Room 203 - Welcome ECS Students
SJCCtv: Room 205 - Welcome ECS Students
SJCCtv: Room 206 - Welcome ECS Students
SJCCtv: Room 208 - Welcome ECS Students
SJCCtv: Room 209 - Welcome ECS Students
SJCCtv: Room 210 - Welcome ECS Students
SJCCtv: Room 211 - Welcome ECS Students
SJCCtv: Room 212 - Welcome ECS Students
SJCCtv: Room 213 - Welcome ECS Students
SJCCtv: Room 214 - Welcome ECS Students
SJCCtv: Outdoor Preschool - Welcome ECS Students
ECS Leadership Team Bios
Carrie Stull | Director, Early Childhood
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 Guiliano | 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.
Nicci Burrell | Administrator
Nicci has worked in ECS since 2003 at both the former Seattle JCC and Mercer Island campuses. She is a Seattle native who enjoys spending time with friends and family. She is looking forward to building lasting relationships with families.
ECS Faculty Bios
Leah has over twenty years of diverse education experience in Australia, Israel, and the United States. She holds a BA in early childhood education and special needs. Her experience includes Academic Director, Curriculum Specialist, and supporting faculty as well as lead teaching incorporating different philosophies and methods such as Reggio Emilia, Montessori, emergent and relationship-based learning. Leah has a black belt in karate. She is passionate about healthy living and enjoys spending time in nature with her husband. She believes that the greatest gift we can give our children is love and a love for learning. Leah is excited to join the ECS family.
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.
Alicia Barta Huffines
Since moving to Seattle in 2000, Alicia has taught for the Seattle Children’s Theater Drama School, Mad Science, Woodland Park Zoo, and the Pacific Science Center, among others. She joined the Mercer Island ECS in 2013, and has taught everything from infants through pre-k. This will be Alicia’s 13th 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. She then proceeded to spend one semester subbing K-5 and three years teaching Kindergarten for Seattle Public Schools. She is currently in the middle of a post-grad gifted education certificate program and hopes to start a doctoral program in the next few years. Alicia is a longtime member of Rainbow City Performing Arts, where she plays French horn and mellophone. She is also a former actor, director, stage manager, filmmaker, improviser, and vocalist, and has spent several years playing extremely mediocre roller derby. She currently lives in Seward Park with her husband, their dogs, and a very spoiled axolotl.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Leslie joined the ECS faculty in October 2019. She has been babysitting nieces and nephews since the age of 15, which made her realize her love of caring and watching children grow. She has worked in childcare for 3 years, mainly with infants. Since moving from Nebraska to Washington in 2018, Leslie has enjoyed exploring and making memories with family and friends, she especially enjoys learning to rollerblade and bike with her dog Hemi. Other hobbies include binge-watching the show “Friends,” crime documentaries, and listening to podcasts. Leslie is looking forward to being part of the infant room.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jordyn is a born and raised Washingtonian and started their adventure in teaching as a high school senior in 2015. Jordyn graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in May 2020 with a BA in women and gender studies and a minor in religious studies. Through their university experience, Jordyn developed their already existing passion for working with and advocating for children. In addition, their employment with the Tacoma Children’s Museum and The Muse Early Childhood Education Center allowed Jordyn’s investment in this field to continue to root itself around their heart and mind. Jordyn is overjoyed to be joining the ECS team this fall 2020 and is excited to connect with the SJCC community. In their free-time, Jordyn enjoys spending time with their fiancé and two cats, reading, and kayaking with their mom. Jordyn uses they/them pronouns.
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.
Hallie joined the ECS faculty in 2019 and has had the opportunity to teach in infants, twos, and pre-k classes. Hallie holds a bachelor’s degree in family and human services and special education from the University of Oregon, as well as a master’s degree in social work from the University of Washington. Hallie uses a strengths-based and child-centered approach to build community within her classroom in order to support student’s social-emotional learning. She is passionate about encouraging student’s creativity and imagination through interactive and explorative activities. Hallie grew up in the Pacific Northwest and loves the mountains, forests, water, and weather that the PNW offers (yes, even the rain!). In her free time, Hallie enjoys kayaking, dancing, cooking, puzzles, comedy shows, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends.
Emily Jane Schankerman
Emily Jane 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 master’s 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 Jane loves arts and crafts, photography, playing pinball, thrift shopping, gardening, hiking, and biking. Emily Jane is looking forward to another year of helping to build strong relationships between children and their natural environment.
Prior to joining ECS in 2020, Kayla taught kindergarten at Island Park Elementary on Mercer Island. Kayla is a WA state-certified kindergarten teacher, received her BA in elementary education from the University of St.Thomas and her master’s degree from Western Governor’s University. Kayla was an ELL teacher in Seoul, South Korea, in 2011 and has been teaching kindergarten since 2013. Kayla feels very passionate about relationships, both with the children and their families, and feels that they are the key to success. Her strengths include differentiating instruction to personalize learning and the promotion of equity. She is a big believer in the importance of mindfulness, something she implements daily.
Sophia recently moved to Seattle and is thrilled to begin teaching preschool at the SJCC. Sophia graduated this past year from the University of Puget Sound with a major in international political economy and a minor in sociology and anthropology. Her passion for working with children started her first year as a counselor at a Jewish day camp back home in the Bay Area. She worked there for six summers and eventually became the program director. This past summer Sophia worked for families as a nanny and babysitter. When she isn’t spending time coloring and reading books with children, Sophia loves to dance, paint, and spend quality time with friends exploring her new home. She is looking forward to being part of such a welcoming community and is excited to make new connections with both children, families, and co-workers.
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!”
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.”
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.