Shanah Tovah! I am both excited and honored to join the staff at Adath Jeshurun Congregation as the new Director of Early Childhood Education. My path here has been a long and winding one.
My Jewish educational journey began at Hillel Academy in Milwaukee, which I attended for kindergarten and first grade. Those very early years in Jewish day school helped me plant my Jewish roots, and served as the foundation of a lifelong commitment to Jewish life and learning.
I obtained a degree in elementary education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While in college, I worked at Camp JCC in Milwaukee. Over the summers I was there, I quickly worked my way from a counselor with the youngest age group, to unit head, to a program director and eventually an assistant director. I knew upon graduating that I wanted to continue my work in Jewish education.
After completing my degree, I worked at the Early Childhood Center at Milwaukee’s Harry and Rose Samson Family JCC. I loved this role for many reasons, but mostly because I treasured developing a passion for learning in my young students. Our classroom was a safe place where they could explore both secular and Jewish themes. Our students were like sponges soaking up everything we taught them from the life cycle of a butterfly to Shabbat. This kind of teaching energized me and left me yearning for more experiences such as this.
After living a few years in Maryland, where I was the kindergarten teacher at Aleph Bet Jewish Day School in Annapolis, my husband Scot and I moved to Minneapolis in 2000, where I began the next phase of my career at the Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School. I began as a 5th-grade teacher and quickly realized that I deeply missed teaching young children. After having our first child, Emily, in 2002, I jumped at the chance when I was asked if I wanted to move to a kindergarten teaching role after my maternity leave.
I remained a kindergarten teacher at Heilicher for 12 years, where I deeply valued my role in shaping the educational futures of our youngest day school learners. As part of my portfolio, I also led outreach efforts in local early childhood programs, providing supplemental programming on Jewish holidays, blessings, values and culture to toddlers, preschoolers and pre-K age children. I also administered hundreds of admissions tests to prospective incoming kindergarten students, building relationships with them and their families even before they officially began at Heilicher. Working with the preschoolers that visited Heilicher, was always one of the best parts of my day.
Beginning in 2014, I brought my passion for Jewish education and outreach to the Heilicher administrative team as the Admissions and Outreach Director. Most recently, I took on an interim, two-year role as Director of Jewish Life and Hebrew, helping to shape the future of Heilicher’s Judaic Studies program.
I am the proud mother of Emily (entering her sophomore year at Michigan State University) and Zoe (entering her sophomore year at St. Louis Park High School), who began their Adath journeys at the Gan. Both my children are Gan and SMP graduates and have proudly participated in many opportunities at Adath. When searching for a synagogue long ago, Scot and I knew that we wanted our shul to be a second home for our kids. I feel fortunate that we were able to give that gift to our children.
As we enter 5782, I invite you and your children to take advantage of all the Adath Early Childhood programming has to offer. Our mission is to be a progressive, egalitarian and sacred community dedicated to Torah (learning and tradition), Avodah (prayer and spirituality) and Gemilut Hasadim (acts of loving kindness). Our congregation is dedicated to providing Jewish education to our children through formal and informal settings. All of these things start in Early Childhood Education at Adath, whether you participate in ECJFE, HaLev programs or send your child to Gan Shelanu. I believe that it is essential to give our children strong Jewish roots so that they are always longing for more.
Wishing you and your family a very sweet new year filled with much good health, love and learning! Please feel free to connect with me by email [email protected] or by phone at 952-545-8694. I look forward to meeting you soon.
Following a highly successful in-person school year, Gan Shelanu is adding more classes and more options for the coming 2021-2022 school year. Adath Jeshurun Congregation’s award-winning preschool program provides a rich variety of learning experiences to stimulate the cognitive and social development of your child within a Jewish context.
Select full-time and part-time openings are still available for the 2021-2022 school year. To view our new options, visit our website at adathjeshurun.org/ganshelanu and call the Gan office to schedule a tour of our expansive facility at 952-545-8694.