Jodi BruceHead of School
Ms. Jodi Bruce, Head of School, joined Lehrman Community Day School in 2003 as the Director of Early Childhood. Prior to becoming the Head of School she served as the Dean of Education at LCDS.
Ms. Bruce came to Lehrman with thirteen years of teaching and administrative experience in the Miami Dade Public Schools in both Early Childhood and Intermediate Education, where she held a variety of teaching positions and administrative responsibilities. During her tenure in the public school system she was recognized with numerous honors and distinctions. Ms. Bruce is a 2010 graduate of the Mandel Teacher Educator Institute, under the auspices of Brandeis University. Ms. Bruce was awarded an educational specialization in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University in 2001. She also earned Master of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education from Nova Southeastern University in 1998. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from the University of Florida in 1990.
A resident of Sunny Isles Beach, FL, Ms. Bruce grew up in North Miami Beach and is married to Rick Bruce. Personable and with a quick wit, you will find Ms. Bruce to be a warm and intelligent person. She has a busy life outside of school as well, where she enjoys reading and spending time at the beach.
Avi BilletDirector of Jewish Life
Rabbi Avi Billet, spends time in every class each week, discussing a topic of interest in Jewish law, lore and legend. He is also available to students to discuss matters related to Judaism and life. Rabbi Billet brings a decade of experience in Jewish education and the rabbinate, during which time he has worked with people of all ages, and he serves as Rabbi of Anshei Chesed of Boynton Beach, FL. Multi-dimensional, Rabbi Billet is also: a writer who maintains a number of blogs; a trained actor who served as a Spielberg Fellow in Jewish Theater Education and currently can be seen performing the weekly Torah portion for children in South Florida (Parsha Drama); and is a practicing Mohel who does ritual circumcisions. Rabbi Billet’s formal education is from the different schools of Yeshiva University, where he received his bachelor’s degree, M.S. in Education, as well as his Rabbinic Ordination. His informal education is still going on, as he is an avid reader who loves learning new things.
Erica KalishEarly Childhood Director
After six years in the Lehrman Early Childhood classroom, Erica was promoted to the director’s office in 2010. An inveterate story-teller, Erica loves to pop into classes to read, or tell stories from memory. As a teacher, she loved to do science experiments, especially helping kids grow in terms of their sensory development. Erica came to Lehrman from Sinai Jacobson Academy’s early childhood program. Erica was born and raised in Miami. She received her undergraduate degree in journalism and her master’s in occupational therapy. This year brought exciting change for Erica, including her name, when she married in October.
Janet RappChief Operating Officer
Janet started her relationship with Lehrman Community Day School as a parent who eventually became PTA President. She has worked for Lehrman since 1993 and is now Chief Operating Officer. Born and raised in Massachusetts, Janet earned a degree in Hotel Restaurant Management from Endicott College. She managed, owned and operated restaurants in Massachusetts before moving to Miami in 1981. Janet and husband Michael have two children, Jennifer and Jonathan, both graduates of LCDS. The third generation, granddaughter Logan, is following in their footsteps and is now a student at Lehrman as well. Janet loves being a grandmother, traveling, cruising and visiting with her family, but two other notable claims to fame are that her ice sculpture was selected for her college graduation awards dinner and she had a cameo appearance in the 1998 film “There’s Something About Mary.”
Linda SchaffzinDirector of Admissions
Linda’s destiny as a Jewish day school educator began at the age of 11, when she entered Akiba Hebrew Academy (now Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy) in suburban Philadelphia. After receiving her BA in English from the University of Pennsylvania, Linda returned to teach middle school at Akiba. Eventually, her four children progressed through synagogue nursery school, Solomon Schechter Day School, and finally Akiba, from which they all graduated — a culmination of continuous involvement in Jewish education of 27 years. In the midst of this activity, Linda was named a Jerusalem Fellow, a fellowship for senior Jewish educators, and the family spent three years in Israel. This followed six years at the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York where she and husband, Stephen, co-edited World Over Magazine, a national children’s publication. On their return to the US in 1986, Linda and Stephen founded a Jewish educational publishing business, working closely with The Jewish Agency and its Israel youth trips. In 2000, Linda was asked to head a new Reform middle school in Atlanta; that was followed by an appointment as Solomon Schechter Day School Middle School principal in Chicago. In 2007 Linda joined Lehrman as Director of Admissions. She received her MA from The Jewish Theological Seminary in 2003, and is currently a doctoral student in Curriculum and Instruction at Barry University.
Ayala ZeevHebrew and Jewish Studies Director
Ayala came to Lehrman in 2008 to teach Hebrew and head the department; she now serves as Dean of Hebrew and Jewish Studies. Ayala earned her BA in biology from Bar Ilan University and taught high school biology. When husband Shlomo was transferred to Venezuela, Ayala became Principal of Jewish Studies in the day school. Tel Aviv University certified Ayala to train Hebrew and Chumash teachers and she worked with teachers across Latin America.
After coming to Miami, Ayala served as Hebrew Academy’s Head of Hebrew language and a mentor in the NETA program. She also prepared groups of girls for a collective Bat-Mitzvah, organized by WIZO.
Ayala and Shlomo have four children, and a granddaughter. In her free time, Ayala likes to read, sing and listen to music. In her past, Ayala performed as a singer and organized choirs in Israel and Venezuela.
Ruth QuintanaAdministrative Assistant
Born in Barcelona, Ruth left at six and lived in the Caribbean, Long Island, and Boca Raton before coming to Miami Beach in 1992. Ruth graduated from Hofstra University with a degree in Psychology. At Lehrman since 2005, she feels she has found her dream job. In her free time, Ruth can be found at the beach, snorkeling or bike riding. She likes to read mysteries and history and wishes she had the time to read even more. Ruth is fluent in English, Spanish and Catalan, the language of Barcelona where she travels often.
Alvaro SanchezDirector of Security
Alvaro, born in Cali, Colombia, came to New York at age 26 to join his five siblings; he moved to Miami to escape the winters! Originally Alvaro worked for a private security company who assigned him to Lehrman, but we hired him directly and it stuck! He loves soccer, mysteries and dramas and spends time at the gym. Alvaro travels frequently to Colombia, and hopes to go to Italy next. Alvaro knows every child’s name, every parent and the cars they drive. Carpool is where he rules, always keeping our children safe!
Stephen SchaffzinDirector of Publications
Stephen combines the heart of the Jewish educator, the eye of the artist and the skills of the visual communicator to the work he does for Lehrman. Add in the mix a little stand-up comedy, boundless energy and love of everything related to kids and you understand what we have come to call the ‘Lehrman look.’ Steve, who was born in New York but grew up in Philadelphia, graduated from a Jewish day school and attended the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts) where he received a BFA (with honors) and a MA in Art Education. He ran his own graphic design and educational publishing businesses and taught visual communications on a college level. Much of his professional work has been in partnership with his wife, Linda. They have four children and five grandchildren.
Amy SiamaAdministrative Assistant
Lehrman is fortunate that Brooklyn born Amy came to Miami. Amy brought her three children to Lehrman, loved it so much that she became PA president, and is now administrative assistant and teaches after school dance classes. Amy, who started dancing at the age of three and continued into her 20s, performed and taught dance for 15 years. Her current favorite is hip hop. Besides time spent with her family or on the dance floor, Amy likes to travel.
Renee SteinmanAdministrative Assistant
Thirty-eight years ago Renee left Brooklyn to escape the cold and landed at Lehrman. Previously she worked for a private defense plant, but shhhh, she can’t tell you about that! When it comes to Lehrman, however, Renee is the one to ask!
Renee and husband, Ed, have two children, both Lehrman alums, and four grandchildren. The Steinmans are frequent Disney World visitors. They have a living reef and a cockatiel name Floydette in their home. Renee has played Mah Jongg for 52 years and she still plays it weekly.
Jose has lived in many places -- born in Cuba, studied in the Northeast, worked in the Caribbean and the Southeast --and then he came to Lehrman in 2000 to man our accounting department with his cheerful optimism and endless patience. Jose has two grown daughters, Solange–Marie and Nicole-Suzette. His wife, Marcia, is an expert in special education. Outside of work Jose enjoys sports and TV, and he reads self help books and biblical-related literature.
Karen AlvarezThird Grade Teacher
Although born in Buffalo, Karen Freedman Alvarez grew up in Columbus, Ohio, becoming a Buckeyes fanatic. Karen moved to Miami and Lehrman in 1983. She loves her students, treating them as if they are her own children. In addition to various other school responsibilities, Karen is a unit leader at Lehrman’s Camp Regesh. Outside of school, Karen spends time with family, walks the beach, plays tennis, and fishes on their flats boat. Son Eddie, a Lehrman alum, was a Bar Mitzvah on Thanksgiving, Karen’s favorite holiday.
Michele BaronKindergarten Teacher
Michele, or Ms. Baron, grew up in the Bronx (New York) and has been living in Florida for over 30 years. She is a proud Gator with a BA from the University of Florida. Michele taught kindergarten at Temple Kol Ami Emanu-el for 17 years where she was a founding teacher. She joined Lehrman in 2012 with her creative teaching style and her passion for maintaining a special bond with students and their families. Michele has two wonderful grown sons, and enjoys sports, traveling, crafts, reading and exercising.
Esther Ben ShalomHebrew/Jewish Studies Teacher
Jerusalem born Morah Etti served in the military police in the Israeli army , occasionally guarding prisoners. She came to America to visit her brother; the visit turned into forever when she met and married Adam. Etti earned her Master’s in Jewish Studies and Jewish Education from Siegal College and taught for 15 years in Jewish day schools in Atlanta, serving as a pilot teacher in the TaLAm program. Etti enjoys reading and computers, and of course family, which includes two sons who are now Lehrman students.
Silvia CattanHebrew/Jewish Studies Teacher
Silvia Cattan, who graduated from Uruguay’s CEDIIAP University with degrees in Psychology and Education, came to America in 2003 with her family, and immediately felt warmly welcomed at Lehrman, their second home. In Uruguay, Silvia directed a Hebrew school for 14 years and operated a private psychology practice. In Miami she taught Judaism at Temple Menorah’s Pre School. She enjoys being a wife and the mother of four redheads. An avid reader, Silvia loves sports, long jogging walks, and family time. She was thrilled to return to Lehrman, this time as a teacher.
Libi DigadkerHebrew/Jewish Studies Teacher
Libi Digadker, who comes to us from Allentown, PA, taught Hebrew and Jewish Studies before she moved to the Miami area. She has over eleven years of teaching experience and earned a MA in Management in Education and a BA in Hebrew Language from Achva Academic College of Education in Israel. Morah Digadker has experience teaching the Tal Am program and enjoys attending the yearly professional development for the reknowned immersion program.
Laurie FarberJewish Studies Teacher
Laurie Farber’s life-long passion for teaching began in high school when she tutored Hebrew at Temple Emanu-El, donating community-service hours. She went on to receive an M.A. in Jewish Education with a major in Bible studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Mrs. Farber has served as both day school teacher and administrator at Greenfield and Hochberg day schools. When not teaching, or playing with grandchildren (she and Rabbi Ed Farber have three children who have so far provided 11 grandchildren), she relaxes with her dogs, works her garden, reads or does crafts.
Janet FeinFourth Grade Teacher
Janet is Lehrman’s resident Brit and so it is no surprise that she loves to teach the European history component of the 4th grade Core Knowledge curriculum! Her favorite activity is the ‘Robin Hood: hero or criminal’ debate. Janet began teaching at Lehrman in 1981 and her children, Amanda and Jeremy are both LCDS graduates. She has a bachelor’s degree from FIU and a master’s in education from Nova Southeastern University and Janet serves as Lehrman’s Core Knowledge coordinator.
Judi FishkinThird Grade Teacher
Judi is a graduate of Nova Southeastern University and has been at Lehrman for eight years. She has taught a variety of age groups -- fifth grade, second grade as well as writing across the curriculum and across the grades. When she teaches writing, which she loves doing; she always completes the assignment, so she models the sharing with the students. Judi’s identical twin daughters, Marti and Dani, have attended Lehrman since they were toddlers. Outside of school, she enjoys spinning, running, cooking and reading.
Mimi FolwellFirst Grade Teacher
Ms. Mimi began teaching in Lehrman’s Early Childhood Department in 1980, with an AA degree in Early Childhood and a BA in liberal studies. She sought elementary certification, moved into the elementary school and never looked back. Now she especially enjoys the history component of the Core Knowledge curriculum, as her students act out the first Thanksgiving or the Boson Tea Party. Before migrating from her native New York, Mimi owned and taught in a ceramics studio. Now she continues to enjoy ceramics as well as reading, dancing and the theater.
Rachel GozlanHebrew/Jewish Studies Teacher
Rachel, a sabra, takes great pleasure in helping children develop Hebrew and Judaic skills. Mother of three and grandmother of two, Rachel began her career at Beth Torah Day School. She studied at St. Thomas University, earning her CDA in Kindergarten Education, and her Hebrew Teachers license while at Temple Menorah’s religious school. Rachel has been at Lehrman since 2000. Known for her joyful spirit, deep love for Judaism and personal connection with her students, Rachel specializes in the TaL AM and Chalav u'Dvash curricula.
Ashley DownesFirst Grade Teacher
Ashley Kisselback Downes has her MA in Elementary Education and a specialization in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Phoenix, Ms. Kisselback came to Lehrman in 2013 from The Primary Learning Center of Miami-Dade where she taught second grade. Mrs. Downes was introduced to Lehrman through our kindergarten campers and fell in love.
Betsy LevyKindergarten Teacher
Betsy, who came to Lehrman in 1994, loves meeting the Meanies, growing gumdrop trees and making crystals with kindergartners and sharing the memories with returning alums, including younger son Sam, a law student. Betsy received her degree from Florida Atlantic University and did graduate work at Barry University. Betsy, a voracious reader, feels passionate about watching a child develop into a reader, knowing that she was part of that process. Betsy enjoys antiquing, gardening, sewing and playing with her dog Dexter.
Tiki MarksHebrew/Jewish Studies Teacher
Morah Tiki Marks came to the USA from Kfar Giladi in the Upper Galilee where she began her teaching career. She received her degree at Seminar Oranim of the University of Haifa. After teaching at Lehrman from 2000-2004, she moved to Kol Ami, but Lehrman was always home. Morah Tiki teaches both Hebrew and Jewish Studies, bringing her special flavor of Israel, and imparting her deep love of the subjects she teaches. Tiki is married and has four sons and four grandchildren. She enjoys swimming, reading and films.
Esther MeyerElementary Teaching Associate
After finishing her education courses at CCNY, Esther moved to Florida in 1975. She concentrated on starting a business and a family, but after enrolling her children in David Posnack Hebrew Day School, her volunteer time turned into work. Since 1987, her education background put her back in the classroom doing what she loves to do. Esther’s children are now grown: her son is an Attorney, and her daughter is an Interior Designer.In her spare time, she enjoys the water, art/music festivals, traveling, reading and cooking organically.
Kenneth MichelsonThird Grade Teacher
Kenny Michelson who began his career at Lehrman in 2013 teaming up with Karen Alvarez, received his MA in Reading from Barry University. He is a veteran teacher who comes to us from David Posnack Hebrew Day School, and he also taught at our neighbor, Hochberg Prep.
April MossFifth Grade Teacher
Before moving to Florida from Missouri in 2004, Mrs. Moss taught English, French, Gifted Studies, Computers, and General Studies. She received her M.A. in Education from Drury University in 2002. She taught at Sha'arei Bina Torah Academy and assisted Mrs. Saltzman at Beth David. After taking time off to raise her daughter and work from home as adjunct faculty for Ashford University, she returned to Mrs. Saltzman, this time at Lehrman. Now, she is a lead teacher, and a Lehrman parent to Renzi. April enjoys tennis, movies, good books, and scrolling through Google Play Store.
Ashleigh MuhlradSecond Grade Teacher
Ashleigh, who always knew she wanted be a teacher, grew up in Ontario, Canada, and moved to Miami Beach when she married Mark. She earned her BS in Journalism from FIU, and earned her MS in Teaching and Learning from Nova Southeastern University. After eight years teaching 2nd grade at the RASG Hebrew Academy, Ashleigh and her two older sons, Sammy and Matthew were thrilled to join the Lehrman family. Baby Joshua will soon follow. Ashleigh enjoys time with her family, traveling, and cooking.
Kyle RabinElementary Teaching Associate
Kyle Rabin is a teaching associate who received her MA in Educational Leadership from Barry University and BA in Elementary Education from Florida International University. She has a wealth of experience as a teacher, curriculum specialist, reading resource teacher, and as an assistant principal in Miami-Dade County.
Jackie ReveszElementary Teaching Associate
Lili RotholzSecond Grade Teacher
A public school teacher for 21 years, Lili joined the Lehrman family in 2005. She received her degree in education from CCNY (City College of New York). Lili loves to read, a good trait for a teacher, and also someone who heads up Lehrman’s Accelerated Reader program. She even formed a book club populated with good friends and Lehrman colleagues. Lili has traveled to Europe three times, though she did not take her beloved dog and her two cats!
Harilee SaltzmanFifth Grade Teacher
After 16 years at the Gordon School of Beth David, Harilee joined Lehrman in 2010. She was a disco dancer and a telephone operator before age seventeen, while doing her BA in French at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where she was born. When she and husband Ken came south, Harilee received her MS in psychology and counseling from Nova. She has two children and two grandchildren. Harilee has done paragliding in Colorado and traveled to Antarctica and loves golf and bridge, but teaching is her destiny.
Dana SchimmelFirst Grade Teacher
Born and raised in Southern New Jersey, Dana knew early on that she was destined to be a teacher. Graduating with honors from Florida Atlantic University’s School of Education, she taught fourth grade in Delray Beach and first grade at The Gordon Day School at Beth David in Miami. Mrs. Schimmel (Ms. Issersohn was married this summer!) is crazy about the performing arts and great books. She also loves spending time with her two younger sisters, her parents, her two standard poodles and husband, Michael. Ms. Schimmel is known for her creative, energetic and loving teaching style.
Dema SeoaneElementary Teaching Associate
Dema is originally from Peru and came to the USA in 2003. She earned a BA from FIU in Spanish Literature and Linguistics. Before joining Lehrman in 2012, she worked at Le Petit Papillon as a Pre-Kindergarden teacher where she enjoyed being a partner in helping children progress. In her free time, Dema enjoys volunteering at the Miami Children's Hospital and Miami orphanages. At home, she relaxes by cuddling with her cats Black Magic and Minah.
Hope SternFourth Grade Teacher
Hope Stern joins us as a fourth grade general studies classroom teacher. Mrs. Stern received an MA in Arts and Education from Towson University and taught second grade for the past five years at Miami Country Day School. Hope, who also has experience working with elementary students through fifth grade, is very enthusiastic about working collaboratively with Janet Fein. Hope’s daughter Soleil is in our Turning Twos class.
Sarah TerheydenKindergarten Teacher
Sarah, or Mrs. T., as she has been known to generations at Lehrman, came to Miami from her native Joliet, IL to study at Barry University. After graduating in 1986 she came to Lehrman and, to our good fortune, never left. All three Terheyden children are Lehrman alums: son, Jake, was Hebrew valedictorian. Mrs. T. loves everything about teaching her young students: dancing with her class every morning or planting a gumdrop tree, or making ‘elephant’s' toothpaste. When not in school she runs on the beach, does crossword puzzles, rides her tandem bike with daughter, Faith, or sits under her mango tree to read or contemplate.
Marianna ZaliganElementary Teaching Associate
Marianna, who enjoys scrapbooking, arts and crafts and travel, has been at Lehrman since 2001, where she has been assisting in Early Childhood and kindergarten. Every since she has been in school, she knew she wanted to make childrens’ lives better and teach. Born in the Ukraine, Marianna came to the US in 1999. She has a BA from the Kremenchug Teacher Training College, and is working on a BA in Elementary Education here. Marianna’s son Grigoriy is a Lehrman alum.
Samara AshToddler Associate
Dana BabainEarly Childhood Teacher
Ms. Dana, who came to Lehrman from Temple Sinai, had always dreamt of being a teacher and now she really loves working with toddlers. She enjoys finding creative and playful ways to engage her young students. She earned her Master of Arts in Psychology at New York University, and is currently studying to be a School Psychologist at Nova Southeastern University. Dana loves to exercise, travel, work on arts and crafts projects, and spend time with family and friends.
Penny BarrPre-Kindergarten Associate
Penny Barr came to Lehrman as a fourth grader in 1990 and graduated with Lehrman forever in her heart. She remained a part of Lehrman physically throughout high school, working as a counselor at our camp. At American University in Washington, D.C., where she received a degree in broadcast journalism with a minor in education, she also tutored inner city students. After graduation, Penny wrote for TV and advertising, but her love for education brought her back to Lehrman where building children's self esteem and enthusiasm for academic and social success have been her goal.
Rachel BeckerPre-Kindergarten Associate
Rachel Becker, made the move from New York to Miami and joined us at Lehrman in 2013. Ms. Becker earned a BA in Psychology and Sociology from Hunter College and has worked with children 2-5 years old, planning curriculum to enhance differentiation in the classroom.
Silvia BinkiewiczToddlers Associate
Silvia, who is mother to three and grandmother to four, attended Havana’s Centro Israelita Jewish School where she studied Hebrew and Yiddish. Silvia came to Lehrman in 2008 from the Temple Beth Shalom Foundation School after working for Bank of America for 21 years. Silvia enjoys cooking, films, spending time with family, friends and children as well as traveling.
Lucia CortavarriaPre-Kindergarten Associate
Brooke EhingerToddlers Associate
Brooke is a Long Beach, California native who attended South Carolina State University on a soccer scholarship, where she graduated with a BS in Psychology. She moved to Miami to attend Barry University’s Master’s program in School Psychology, which she hopes to complete while she works at Lehrman. In her free time, Brooke enjoys playing, watching, and coaching soccer, singing, reading, watching movies, and of course visiting her family, dogs, and friends in California.
Carolina FerdmanNursery Associate
Three years ago, Carolina began her relationship with Lehrman as a mother to students Cindy (now in kindergarten) and Tommy (a current 4th grader). After working at Beth Moshe Congregation for four years, and an additional three years at Temple Beth-El in Hollywood, Carolina has “come home”—to Lehrman. Originally from Argentina, and currently a resident of Surfside, she loves to spend time (anywhere!) with her children, and to travel back home to visit family.
Tina FerrerEarly Childhood Teaching Associate
Tina, who has taught generations of Lehrman children, came to the school in 1987 from our neighbor, Biscayne Elementary. While teaching at Lehrman, Tina also did testing at Feinberg Fischer for ten years. A native of Cuba, Tina has two grown children and two granddaughters. Tina loves to knit and study Bible. Tina aids abused women in a shelter supported by her church and she works weekly with delinquent teens in an effort to steer them toward more productive pursuits.
Ana HormillaEarly Childhood Teacher
Ana came to Lehrman in 1987, then a young mother whose children attended the school. Veronica is an Optometrist, married and in Houston, and Luis has a degree in business administration. Ana, however, is still where she loves to be, winning the trust and hearts of Lehrman kids in her playful, yet structured way. She is known for the wonderful books the children make at year’s end, as well as the joyful photos she takes of her ‘kids.’ Each year, Ana chooses a theme which she has never repeated in all of her years at Lehrman!
Ingrid JaehnigNursery Associate
Caryn, a graduate of the University of Central Florida, taught at Temple Kol Ami Emanu-El for six years before joining Lehrman in 2012. Flexible, energetic, patient and caring, Caryn focuses on the strengths of each child by building confidence. She believes if you teach young children in a fun, happy environment, they tend to relate to you more and in turn develop a thirst for knowledge. Caryn enjoys being an early childhood educator and gaining knowledge through teaching.
Jelena MatovicNursery Associate
Shoshana MitraniNursery Associate
Shoshana Mitrani earned a BS in Early Childhood Education from FIU and worked as a teacher assistant at Toras Emes Academy of Miami. She also worked as a summer camp counselor for many years and was most excited to be back at Lehrman, which she attended from Pre-K through grade 3.
Jachelline PatinoPre-Kindergarten Associate
Jachelline, who came to Miami from Colombia in 2002, earned her BS in Family Professional Services. Jachelline says the best part of her job as an early childhood assistant is watching the kids learn and grow; she has been doing that at Lehrman since 2005. When not at school, Jachelline enjoys spending time with family and studying.
Sylvia RamirezEarly Childhood Teaching Associate
Sylvia, originally from Peru, learned to play the flute in High School and shared that with the children she worked with in her native country. She attended Medical school for three years and did volunteer work with special needs kids. In 2011 she fell in love with Miami and moved here. Sylvia enjoys travel and encountering new cultures. She has an adorable English bulldog named Rocky. Sylvia believes it is most rewarding to teach a child something new while engendering fun.
Maria, who has a CDA Credential in Early Childhood Education, is veteran teacher, including ten years at All Angels Academy prior to her arrival at Lehrman in 2011. She enjoys teaching the children in a loving and respectful atmosphere. Maria has two sons of her own: including one in high school and one in the Air Force. Outside of school, Maria enjoys photographing birthday celebrations, weddings, and other special events.
Jennifer RappMommy & Me • Splat! Teacher
Lehrman has been a huge part of Jennifer’s life. A Miami native, she attended Lehrman from toddler through middle school. In the late 90's she returned to teach toddlers and more recently to lead Mommy & Me. Jennifer’s profound interest in and love for children on the Autism Spectrum led to her work in ABA (applied behavior analysis) therapy with children on the spectrum, as well as behavior therapy. Jennifer, the proud mommy of Logan, now a Lehrman legacy, enjoys spending time with her daughter and traveling.
Jennifer SerettiTurning Twos
Jennifer Seretti, began working at Lehrman in 2012 as a part of our summer camp staff. Jen's positive attitude, infectious smile, and endless energy fills our Turning Twos classroom into a wonderful place for children to grow and learn. A graduate of Eastern Kentucky University, Jen hails from Pittsburgh, PA. She has a long history of working with children and came to Lehrman from Le Petit Papillon.
Grettel ThompsonEarly Childhood Teacher
Grettel, who is passionate about the environment, and is an advocate for reduce, re-use, recycle, came to Lehrman in 2003. She has a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education with an ESOL endorsement from FIU. Grettel loves to walk, read and especially spend time with family and friends. Lehrman is a family affair for Grettel as her nephew is a former student and her son, Myles, is enrolled currently.
Paula TucciToddlers Associate
Parents have seen Paula dancing and singing with their toddlers at Lehrman since 2003. Off campus her specialties are Zumba and salsa. In 1999 Paula came to Miami for vacation from Argentina, where she worked for a company specializing in sand production. She liked this town so much, she found herself coming back to live permanently! Paula is married to Eduardo and in her free time she enjoys having dinner with friends and playing with her beautiful shih tzu, Lola.
Natalie is a Pre-Kindergarten Teacher who began her career at the RASG Hebrew Academy, where she worked for eight years prior to coming to Lehrman. Natalie received her National CDA from Miami-Dade College. She lived in Israel for seven years and she is married and has two adorable children, one of whom, Julia, is currently enrolled in the Early Childhood program at Lehrman. Natalie speaks three languages: English, Hebrew, and Russian.
Nicole AbelsonSchool Counselor
Nicole, who came to Lehrman in 2009, was born in Tennessee and moved to St. Louis, Missouri at age 13. She received a BS degree in Business from the University of Kansas, and an MS degree in Dance Movement Therapy from Pratt Institute in New York. Nicole became a South Floridian in 2004 and worked at area hospitals and rehabilitation centers, combining the arts and therapy. She also studied in London and traveled throughout Europe. When not at work, she dances as much as she can and spends time with family, including husband Scott and children, Thomas and Alexandra.
Deborah BrownArt Teacher
Deborah’s students will tell you that there are no mistakes in art; they also put everything into their work. Deborah is an excellent role model: In between her BFA (Bachelor in Fine Arts), Magna Cum Laude and her MFA, both from the University of Miami, Deborah worked in galleries and had her own showings. She also studied art and art history in Italy, as well as ceramics at Alfred University in New York. At Lehrman Deborah has taught all ages and her students have participated and competed in competitions such as the Miami-Dade County Fair, the American Bar Association Law Day contest and the Miami Jewish Federation’s High Holiday Card Contest. She loves to bake, travel and be with family, including daughter Sarah, a Lehrman alum.
Aaron CorlissAthletic Director
Coach Aaron Corliss, a native Miamian, trained to be an EMT and a Paramedic. Later he returned to FIU and has coached for the City of North Miami and Village of Miami Shores. He came to Lehrman in 1998. Not surprisingly, Coach’s favorite place to be is outside: gardening, bike riding, running, swimming and going to the beach. He works out frequently and plays on a competitive Flag Football team. Coach’s mother and brother live near by, and he is engaged to Danielle.
Michael DayMusic/Drama Teacher
Michael, who joined Lehrman in 2005, received his BFA from McGill University in Montreal. Michael, father of four, including two Lehrman students, enjoys the challenge of teaching different musical instruments and engaging students in a variety of musical genres. A major passion is producing Lehrman’s Musical Theatre production, which included Oliver, Annie, Joseph, The Wiz, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast. Outside of school, Michael serves as professional musical director and musician. Other interests include cycling, outdoorsy stuff, painting, composing and his German Sheppard Bear.
Shea PolakowScience Specialist
Shea, who is Miami-born, lived the first eight years of her life in Toronto before moving back to Miami where she received her BS degree in Biology from FIU. She and sons Chase and Cooper love camping and RV’ing together. They have been to the Grand Canyon, Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone Park, and Canada; their favorite destination is out west. They have hiked mountains and gone into bat caves and while in Georgia, they picked fruit and vegetables for Jimmy Carter’s childhood garden.
Brandon Shea will be giving Coach Corliss support with the added numbers in ECD and kindergarten. Brandon became acquainted with many of our early childhood students as a coach in our after school Kidokinetics program and then this past summer at camp. Brandon received a BA from Barry University in painting and drawing and he was also a camp counselor at the YMCA camp in New Jersey.
Diane TaubTechnology Coordinator
Diane became a techie before IBM developed the PC! After years in business, she taught at Bet Shira Solomon Schechter Day School and then Temple Beth Am. Diane came to Lehrman in 2006 to teach and take responsibility for all things technological. Diane uses rebuses to teach the insertion of graphics, and M & M’s to illustrate graphing. Mother of two married sons and grandmother to Julia, Ethan and Annabelle, Diane is also a past Region President of Hadassah; she currently serves as an elected member to the National Board.
Ilana TraubMedia and Technology Specialist
Ilana Traub is a graduate of Mills College (BA in Education) and Nova SoutheasternUniversity (MA Educational Technology), Ms. Traub is a veteran educator who came to us from Hochberg Preparatory School after spending 10 years at Hillel Community Day School as their Director of Educational Technology. Ms. Traub helped us define and grow our new media center as it develops as the hub of learning and discovery at Lehrman.
Joseph (Papa Joe) GalliotteFacilities Manager
“Papa Joe,” beloved by generations of Lehrman kids, was born in Haiti, grew up in Brooklyn, and moved to Miami 1976. He has been strategizing Heats games with Lehrman students, parents and staff since 1996, but his heart has always belonged to his beloved Yankees. Papa is at Lehrman when the sun rises and he is still here way past sunset, yet he still finds time to watch sports, read, and spend time with his wife and their five children.
Harry LaveauSecurity Guard
Every Lehrman student, from the tiniest to our fifth graders, loves to greet Mr. Harry as he helps them out of the cars in the morning. At pick-up, parents enjoy talking sports with Harry, who began working security for the Jewish community shortly after his arrival in Miami from Haiti in 1990. He and wife Mirlande have a son and a daughter; in his spare time Harry goes to shooting practice at the range and enjoys watching soccer, basketball and tennis.
Panagis (Peter) TzanetatosChef
Chef Peter learned his trade (and learned it well!) while in the Greek navy. After being discharged from the service, Peter took a position as chef on a private yacht, travelling around the world and eventually winding up in the U.S. His many, many years of experience, plus his intimate knowledge of kosher cooking, enables our students to enjoy exceptional, nutritious meals prepared from scratch each day.
Rubina WilliamsSupport Staff
Ruby, who has been at Lehrman since 2005, was born in South Carolina, but moved to Florida when she was five. She lived in New York for 20 years while her children finished school, but then moved back here where she has lived ever since. Ruby has three daughters and one son, and five grandchildren, all of whom live in New York; she visits them over the winter break. Away from Lehrman, Ruby spends time at church, attending services several times a day on Sundays.