BZBI, where you learn

Meet our Team

Yellow Room

Bethany Katz, Lead Teacher

Hi, my name is Bethany Katz. The children call me Ms. Bethany. I graduated from Christopher Newport University with a degree in History. This is my first year working in Early Childhood Education, and I’m really enjoying it! Prior to working at BZBI, I worked as an Americorps member for City Year in a sixth grade classroom. I really enjoy working with children, and I hope to continue to do so.

Molly Redding, Assistant Teacher

Hello! My name is Molly Redding and I am the Assistant Teacher in the Green Classroom. I have previously worked at Kindercare of Malvern from 2014- 2016, and at Beginnings Preschool in Philadelphia from 2016 – 2017. I now am in the Behavioral Health Program at Thomas Jefferson University; with a focus in child psychology. My ultimate goal is to be child behavioral therapist. I very much enjoy being apart of this great community, and love coming to work everyday!

Joanne Maza, Assistant Teacher

Hi, my name is Joanne Maza and I am the Assistant Teacher in Playschool 2. I just 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.

Green Room

Wakeelah (Keelah) Jackson, Lead Teacher

Hello, my name is Wakeelah Jackson, but everyone calls me Ms. Keelah. I have been working in Early Childhood Education for over ten years. I started as a Teacher’s Aid at Penn Children’s Center, and was promoted to Assistant Teacher and then Lead Teacher.  I am now Lead Teacher in Playschool 1. I currently attend Temple University, majoring in Early Childhood Education with Special Education as a minor. My goal is to become a Reading Specialist or Speech Pathologist. Working with children is something I enjoy and have enjoyed since working in this fun and rewarding field. What I love about being a teacher is watching children’s uniqueness flourish, sparking their already curious minds, and supporting their social-emotional and physical development. I am so lucky to work with children in this field.

Stacey Lasky, Assistant Teacher/Jewish Resource Specialist

I am a Lead Teacher in the preschool, the Adasha Teacher at Neziner, and the Tot Shabbat Leader this year at BZBI. After many, many (many) years away, last summer, I returned to Philly, my birthplace, and was welcomed by BZBI when I became an Assistant Teacher in the Playschool 3 classroom, as well as the 7th Zayin Class Teacher and Modern Israeli Hebrew Maagal Instructor at Neziner.

Prior to returning to Philly, I was living in Atlanta, where I received my Childhood Development Associate credential (CDA). There, I was a Toddler Teacher for five years and a Camp Sunday (Sunday “School” taught in a camp atmosphere) Counselor at the JCC.

I lived in Israel for several years after graduating from the University of Florida with a Jewish Studies degree, and have always enjoyed being a Jewish Educator for all ages. Next Spring Semester, I plan to begin my Masters in Education with a concentration in Jewish Instructional Education at Gratz College.

I’m truly excited to be a part of your children’s educational journey and look forward to seeing where this school year takes us!

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.

Blue Room

Jessica Hill, Lead Teacher

I am a recent graduate of Cabrini University receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and in Special Education.  I have worked with grade levels ranging from Pre-School through eighth grade.  At each grade level I was privileged to work hands-on with children at public, private and religious schools. I am passionate about teaching children, watching them grown and develop in a nurturing loving environment. My goal is to pursue my Master’s of Education Degree. This has been a wonderful experience working here at BZBI and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Joann Zimbello, Assistant Teacher

This is my 8th year working at BZBI. It feels like I started just yesterday. Time flies when you’re having fun! I’ve been working with children of all ages for as long as I can remember. It’s a real passion of mine. I’m blessed to do what I love and I can’t imagine doing anything else. In my spare time, which is limited these days, I enjoy reading a good book, Zumba, listening to music and going to the theater.

Red Room

Adam Lahav, Co-Lead Teacher

Shalom! My name is Adam Lahav. I am a Certified Early Childhood Educator. I have been working in Early Childhood since 2012 and have worked as a Substitute Teacher, Teacher Assistant and Head Teacher. I received my Early Childhood Certification from Sheridan Technical Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I am passionate about Early Childhood and have known that teaching children was the career for me since I was 16 years old. Each child that comes into my classroom is unique and special. I create a calm, caring, and educational environment where all children can learn, grow and succeed. I look forward to an exciting school year ahead!

Merissa Richmond, Co-Lead Teacher

I have been a teacher for 19 years, with 10 years working in Jewish Schools. I have a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education and Special Education.  I hold a Pennsylvania State Certifications in Elementary Education and Special Education. This is my third year teaching at BZBI as the Lead Teacher of the Pre-K class. I am the Administrative Assistant to the Principal of the Neziner Hebrew School, as well as, the Lead Teacher of the Hebrew School Bonim class. I believe it is important to have a warm, friendly environment where all children feel welcome and comfortable to be themselves.


Risa Young, Director of Early Childhood Education

I am very excited to join the BZBI community as Director of Early Childhood Education. I am originally from Mt. Carmel, PA.,  but I moved to New York City, where I spent 28 years leading high-quality educational programs for children and families. I have held executive positions in large organizations including Children’s Aid Society, Brooklyn Kindergarten Society, Sunset Bay Community Services, and Third Street Music School. For many years I was a contributing writer for Scholastic’s Early Childhood Today and Parent & Child magazines and a member of the Early Childhood Strategic Group, a professional consortium that helped to influence and shape early care and education policy in New York City. Before moving to Philadelphia I was Director of Early Childhood Programs at the JCC of San Francisco, overseeing three Reggio Emilia- inspired preschools. My husband Roland and I have been married over 30 years and we have a daughter, Lena, who resides in Tel Aviv.

Tracy Goodman, Programs Coordinator

I am blessed to continue to be a part of the Temple Beth Zion – Beth Israel community for the last 12 years. My husband Carl, and daughters Rachel and Erica, and I live in Marlton N.J.  Both of my girls now attend college so my husband and I are first year Empty Nesters! My role in our Preschool is to assist and support the staff, parents and children in all areas of a typical school day. You will often find me in the ECE Office organizing paperwork, answering emails and communicating with vendors for our school needs. My favorite aspect of working at BZBI is when I have the opportunity to take a moment, go into the classrooms, and share a book, song or smile with the children