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 as an Assistant Teacher, and I was recently promoted. I am currently pursing my Masters in Early Childhood and Special Education at Temple University. In 2015 I graduated from Christopher Newport University with a degree in History.  I previously worked for City Year with middle school students, but have found my passion working with young children and nurturing their development through exploration and play. I am extremely lucky to be working at BZBI, which has an amazing parent and staff community and environment.

Molly Redding, Assistant Teacher

Hi, my name is Molly and I am the Assistant Teacher in the Yellow 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 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!

Stacey Lasky, Jewish Resource Specialist/Associate Teacher

I am excited to be the Jewish Resource Specialist and Associate Teacher in the preschool this year! After being a Lead Teacher last year and becoming more familiar with the philosophy of the school, I’m truly looking forward to incorporating what I have learned along with my passion for teaching Hebrew, Judaics, and children’s yoga! As the Yoga/Havdalah Specialist at camp this past summer, it has been great to witness the children already excited to practice yoga and become mindful.

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. I am now currently earning my MA in Jewish Education at Gratz College.

In addition to the preschool, you can also find me at BZBI teaching Hebrew to Neziner students and leading Tot  Shabbat with our youngest members and their families.

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

Adam Lahav, Co-Lead Teacher

Shalom! My name is Adam Lahav. I have been working in the field of Early Childhood since 2012 and have worked as a Substitute Teacher, Teacher Assistant and Head Teacher. I received my Early Childhood Professional Certificate from Sheridan Technical Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I have been at BZBI since 2017 as a Lead Teacher with the Older 3’s. 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!

Joann Zimbello, Assistant Teacher

I have been an Assistant Teacher at BZBI since 2010.  I currently work with the Older 3’s classroom during the week and I’m here on Shabbat assisting children and families attending services and children’s programs. 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.

Sarah Gellerstein, Assistant Teacher

Hi, my name is Sarah Gellerstein, and I am very excited to start my first year as an Assistant Teacher at BZBI! I graduated from Rutgers University Mason Gross School of The Arts, and recently moved to Philadelphia, to start a Masters Program at University of The Arts.  I have previously worked at various schools and summer camps, but my last job was working as an aftercare kindergarten teacher at Cedar Hill Preparatory School, in Somerset, NJ. I love working with children of all ages, but I think preschool is my favorite. I feel so lucky to have gotten a position here, and can’t wait for the school year to start!


Red Room

Lexi Weiner, Lead Teacher

Hi, my name is Lexi and I am a recent graduate of Boulder Journey School’s Teacher Education Program in Colorado. Prior to receiving my master’s degree in education, I owned and operated a children’s art studio in Philadelphia and before that I managed the art studios at the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, CA. My approach to teaching is inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy and my background is in architecture. I love learning about each child’s unique interests and working in partnership with children to come up with creative ideas. I am excited to join the amazing staff at BZBI and to create a nurturing classroom environment!

Melanie Fine, Assistant Teacher

Hi! My name is Melanie Fine. I graduated from the University of Delaware in 2018, and I am thrilled to begin working at BZBI as an Assistant Teacher.  I previously worked as an Assistant Pre-K Teacher at Hillview Nursery School in Broomall, PA.  I am so happy and excited to continue working with children at such a special place!

Shelley Chow, Assistant Teacher

Hello!  My name is Shelley Chow and I am so honored to be part of BZBI this year.  Originally from Pittsburgh, I previously worked at the JCC of Greater Pittsburgh (the Jewish community has become like a second family to me) as lead teacher in a toddler classroom.  I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in April 2018 with a BA in speech-language pathology and minors in linguistics and Korean.  Next year, I plan to pursue a master’s degree in SLP.  I have a strong background in the sciences but have also been formally teaching since 2015, and am especially passionate about working with children on language, literacy, and communication.  I look forward to what this year brings!

Violet Room

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.

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.


Administration

Risa Young, Director of Early Childhood Education

I am very excited to be part of 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 be a part of the Temple Beth Zion – Beth Israel community since 2006. In my role as ECE Program Coordinator, I am responsible for the oversight of the children’s records and ensuring that we meet our licensing requirements, communications with parents, and coordinating special events for our children. I love having the opportunity to build strong relationships with children and families.

My favorite aspect of working here, in our BZBI preschool is having the opportunity to take a moment, go into the classrooms, and share a book or song and a smile with the children.

My husband Carl and I live in Marlton N.J. My daughter Erica attends Rutgers University in New Brunswick and my oldest daughter, Rachel, lives in Seattle and works for the Seattle Mariners.

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