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!


Angelita Benson, Assistant Teacher

I have worked as an Assistant teacher and Floater at BZBI since 2010.  The greatest role I have is as a mother and grandmother and I am fortunate to spend my free time with my grandchildren. I am also a nanny who 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 families within the Jewish 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.

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 Green 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!



Asiana Ouk, Assistant Teacher

I started working as a floater at BZBI but completed my first year as an assistant teacher in green room this last fall. I’ve loved being with this age group, as the kids that come the first day are completely different from the kids that move on and leave our room. They become so much more confident and capable and its been incredibly rewarding to help nurture that. I have a background in fine art and initially moved to Philadelphia for school but have stayed due to the various people and communities that I’ve come to love, so that being said I look forward to another year. 


Brittany Rosen, Assistant Teacher

My name is Brittany Rosen and I am so excited to begin my first school year at BZBI! I am the Assistant Teacher in the Green Room. I have been working in early childhood education for 7 years and have my certification from Dean College. My passion has always been in working with young children and I look forward to helping them learn and grow in creative and fun ways! I can’t wait to meet everyone! In my spare time, I love to travel, see shows and play tennis!

Blue Room

Becca Hann, Lead Teacher

This will be my second year at BZBI and  I am very excited to be working in the Blue Room this year! I started working with children in high school and during college I was part-time staff at an inclusive preschool with children who were typically developing and children with special needs. I graduated with a dual degree in Child Development and Psychology from Connecticut College. My first job was in Philadelphia working with children birth to three years old with special needs while I did graduate work in Early Childhood Special Education at Temple University.

I then worked with children ages 3-6 who were at-risk or had identified special needs while doing additional graduate school work in Elementary Education and Special Education at Arcadia University. Since then, I have worked with children from birth through high school and their families in a variety of settings. I happily returned to preschool teaching, my favorite age to teach, about 9 years ago with Head Start programs. I love working at BZBI and am looking forward to an amazing year ahead.

Anna Coyle, Assistant Teacher

Hi, my name is Anna Coyle and I’m excited to be starting my first year at BZBI in the Blue Room! I graduated from Arcadia University in 2021 with a degree in art therapy. I have since found myself working in various child care settings. I have experience working with children who are on the Autism spectrum, nannying and working in early childhood education centers. I find myself coming back to early childhood education centers for the nurturing and collaborative community created between the children, their families and the teachers!

Noa Ahtoong, Assistant Teacher

Hi, my name is Noa! I recently  moved to Philly from Portland, Oregon, and before that I grew up in Nevada. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies and have been working as a preschool teacher for 5 years, 2 1/2 years at Early Head Start and 2 1/2 years at a Jewish preschool in Nevada. While in Oregon I worked as a middle school librarian, which was a super fun experience, but I am so excited to be back in early childhood working at BZBI.

Red Room

Sarah Fleischman, Co-Lead Teacher

Sarah is no stranger to BZBI, having spent her entire life in the synagogue. From Tot Shabbat Leader, Preschool, and Hebrew School Teacher to Kadima & USY Advisor, she has made an impact in the lives of all ages at BZBI. She returned to teaching preschool full-time last year after 8 years of non-profit development work and has fully embraced being back in the classroom. Sarah is thrilled to be working alongside such amazing teachers and with such wonderful families!

Stacey Lasky, Co-Lead Teacher

I’m excited to be the co-lead teacher in the Red 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!

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. 

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.

Una O’Neill, Assistant Teacher

Hello! My name is Una. I’m delighted to be a part of the BZBI community for my second 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. Two years ago 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!

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!


Sara Dasher Goldfuss, Director of Early Childhood Education

Sara is a passionate Early Childhood Educator with over 10 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.