BZBI, where you learn

Meet our Team

Yellow Room

Bethany Katz, Lead Teacher

Hi, my name is Bethany Katz and I am the Lead Teacher in the Yellow Room. I started working at BZBI in the Fall of 2017, and left in the fall of 2020 to finish my Master’s Degree, returning to BZBI in the beginning of 2021. I have a Masters in Early Childhood and Special Education from Temple University. I really enjoy working with children, and nurturing their development through exploration and play. I also feel so lucky to be back at BZBI, which is such a wonderful community!

Molly Redding, Assistant Teacher

Hi, my name is Molly and I am the assistant teacher in the Blue Room. I have been working at BZBI since 2017 and I enjoy being part of this great team! I have an Associate’s Degree with concentration in Education from Delaware County Community College and I am currently in school at Jefferson University for Behavioral Health and Psychology. My previous experiences include working at Kindercare of Malvern and St. Peter’s School. My passion is creativity and art, and I love that I have the opportunity to bring that into this classroom this year.


Green Room

Wakeelah (Keelah) Jackson, Lead Teacher

Hello, my name is Wakeelah Jackson, but everyone calls me Ms. Keelah. I have an Associated Degree in Early Childhood Education and I have over 10 years of experience as both an Assistant and Lead Teacher. I have been at BZBI since 2018. This year, I will be the lead teacher in the Blue Room. Working with children is something I have always enjoyed. What I love most about being a teacher is watching children’s unique qualities flourish, stimulating their very curious minds, and supporting their social-emotional and physical development. I take great pride in working in this rewarding field. I am excited for the start of the school year!

Alicia Rosenbaum, Associate Teacher

(bio coming soon)

Erin West, Assistant Teacher

Hiya! My name is Erin. I am an Assistant Teacher in the Green Room. This is my first year at BZBI; I am so excited to be a part of this team! I have my Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education from the Community College of Philadelphia and my Bachelors Degree in Social Work from Temple University. A few things about me: I have eleven nieces and nephews that I absolutely adore! I have been living in Delaware for a few years with my family but I am originally from Northeast Philadelphia. I enjoy writing stories and poetry, baking delicious treats, and educating young children. I’m so excited to get to know you and your beautiful families!


Blue Room

Stacey Lasky, Lead Teacher

I’m excited to be the lead teacher in the Blue Room this year! With almost a decade of experience in the Early Childhood classroom, I have accumulated a trove of fun and engaging educational activities from mentors and colleagues. Witnessing young children’s pride in their accomplishments is my greatest joy and motivating them to achieve these goals is my passion.

I lived in Israel for several years after graduating from the University of Florida with a BA in Jewish Studies and have always enjoyed being a Jewish Educator for all ages. I recently earned my MA in Education, with a concentration in Jewish Education Instruction from Gratz College. Just like the children, I am continually wanting to learn!

Angelita Benson, Assistant Teacher

I have worked as an Assistant Teacher at BZBI since 2010.  The greatest role I have is as a mother and a grandmother and I am fortunate to spend my free time with my grandchildren. I am a nanny who also feels part of the families that I work with. Watching the children that are entrusted to me grow into kind people brings me great joy and pride. I have worked with many Jewish families within the community. I have learned so much about the passion that these families have for one another. There is a common value that they share and that is to always care for one another.

Una O’Neill, Assistant Teacher

Hello! My name is Una. I’m delighted to be a part of the BZBI community this year. I have a Bachelor’s in Fibers from the University of the Arts. Since graduating, I have been in roles such as a lead teacher, assistant teacher, nanny, and personal aide to children in Philadelphia’s early intervention program. Most recently I ran my own preschool pod for five wonderful families during the pandemic. I’m looking forward to making new friendships, learning with your children, and having fun!

Ranne Means, Assistant Teacher

(bio coming soon)


Red Room

Jere Paolini, Lead Teacher

Jere has been helping to care for small children since they were a small child, as the younger sibling of two sisters and 13 foster sisters, many of them young mothers. For the past eight years, Jere has been providing quality early-childhood education and childcare to families across the city, first as a nanny for two families with three children, from ages 6-months to 5-years, then as assistant teacher of the Pre-K program at Society Hill Synagogue Playschool. Prior to this, for 20 years Jere worked as a Behavior Specialist, Program Specialist, and Direct-Care Worker serving teens and adults with developmental disabilities. While earning a BFA with distinction from the University of the Arts (Jere also owns and operates a freelance photography business), they worked as a Community Outreach Facilitator at the Please Touch Museum, leading workshops for young parents on a range of issues and skills needed to care for their young children. Jere lives in West Philadelphia with their wife and four-year-old daughter.

Joann Zimbello, Assistant Teacher

I have been an Assistant Teacher at BZBI since 2010.  I am also studying Modern Hebrew with a dream of one day visiting Israel. I have a B.S. in Business, however, I have been working with children of all ages for as long as I can remember. In my spare time, I love to read, listen to music, do Zumba, and go to the theater. 

Sophie Berg, Assistant Teacher

I’m excited to start working at BZBI as an assistant teacher with the older 3’s. I’ve always enjoyed working with children. I have a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Environmental Studies, and I taught Farm to School lessons in South Burlington, Vermont for pre-k through 5th grade students. I went to Hebrew School and was Bat Mitzvah-ed at BZBI, so it feels extra special to return to this community as an assistant teacher.


Violet Room

Merissa Richmond, Lead Teacher

My name is Merissa Eve Richmond. I have been a teacher for over 20 years.  I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education and Special Education, and I hold PA State Certifications in Elementary Education and Special Education.  I have been working at BZBI since 2014 as the Lead Teacher of the Pre-K program and since 2015 as the Lead Teacher of the Hebrew School Bonim class.  My passion for art and nature is manifested in my teaching and classroom environment. I provide children with opportunities for hands-on, experiential learning.  It is my goal to provide the support and encouragement needed for my students to be confident, to be themselves and always do their best. I truly love being part of the BZBI community, and I am looking forward to another great year.

Joanne Maza, Assistant Teacher

Hi, my name is Joanne Maza and I am the assistant teacher in the Pre-K class. I moved from New York to Pennsylvania, where I was an assistant teacher for three years before deciding to go back to school. I am currently working towards a bachelors in Criminal Justice. I have experience tutoring History and working as a nanny. I’m super excited to be working with children again and to expand not just their learning, but also my own. I’m a hands-on teacher and I love talking, singing, building, and doing art with children.

Ellana Cohen, Assistant Teacher

Hi, my name is Ellana! I’m an assistant teacher in the Pre-K class. I was born and raised in Miami in an Israeli/American Jewish household. I graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and Certificate. In Miami I got certified as a Behavioral Assistant working with autistic children which was tough but rewarding. My grandma was also a Hebrew teacher at the temple school that I attended for Pre-K. Even today, after decades, kids she used to teach recognize her on the street and are so excited to see her. I aspire to make as big of an impression as she did. I’m so fascinated by the breadth of imagination kids have and how unimpeded they are from limitations. Watching them play and explore art inspires my own experimentation in my art practice. I can’t wait to show them more ways of creating and see what they can accomplish!

Administration

Sara Dasher Goldfuss, Director of Early Childhood Education

Sara is a passionate Early Childhood Educator with years of experience teaching young children and coaching parents and fellow educators. She has taught at Germantown Jewish Centre and Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El, was a Tribe 12 Fellow in 2015, and an administrator at Society Hill Synagogue before joining BZBI in January of 2020. Sara, her husband Jamie, and their 4 children Izzy, Yaffa, Toby, and Adar are all proud Philly natives.




Melanie Fine, Programs Coordinator

Melanie previously worked as an assistant teacher in our Early Childhood program, and she is thrilled to transition from her role in the classroom to a role as an administrator. Melanie graduated from the University of Delaware in 2018 with a degree in Interpersonal Communication. Prior to starting her career in Early Childhood Education, Melanie worked as an administrator for a restaurant in Philadelphia assisting with marketing and event planning. Melanie is so excited to continue working with children while supporting the BZBI community as an administrator.

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