Shariee Calderone is a Sr. Communal Education Consultant at The Jewish Education Project focusing on early childhood and family engagement initiatives. Shariee coordinates the Coalition of Family Engagement Innovators which brings early engagement educators, entrepreneurs, and community leaders from the NY Metro area (and nationally) together in thoughtful dialog and collaboration around the issues that matter most in family engagement today. Shariee also supports the social media and documentation efforts of multiple initiatives including In-site-ful Journeys, which introduces educators to innovations in early childhood education through “site” visits of innovative schools and J-LINC, which helps to spark new models of developmentally appropriate early family engagement. For the past two years Shariee has supported a network of early childhood professionals who are incorporating thoughtful and intentional nature-based environments at their institutions. Shariee has a passion for gardening and all things nature and brings that enthusiasm and knowledge to educators who are pursuing green initiatives, especially outdoor classrooms and gardens in Jewish settings.
When Cary wrote her blog she was the Program Supervisor, Day Care Supervisor and Nature Explorium specialist at the Mid Island Y JCC in Plainview, NY. Under that mantle she coordinated the day care program, fundraisers and special events and created all of the outdoor learning experiences for children and families in the preschool. Before taking that position she was a toddler teacher and camp counselor. And the very best part of her job is getting to interact with the children every day!
When Cathy wrote her blog she was the Director of Jewish Life of the Rosenthal JCC, Cathy oversaw holiday programs, adult education, Global Jewish Connections, and J-Baby. A new initiative for families with babies through pre-schoolers. J-Baby empowers beginning Jewish families to bring Judaism into their everyday lives while making social connections among the parents and their children. To date Cathy has organized close to 100 events through Meetup, which has close to 150 members. Prior to joining the Rosenthal JCC, Cathy served as family educator at the Community Synagogue of Rye. She holds an M.A. in Elementary Education from The George Washington University.
Debra is the new Early Childhood Director at Temple Shaaray Tefila in Bedford, NY. Part of her passion leading this high quality school is the focus it has on natural materials, outdoor learning, and an organic garden – all inspired by the Reggio Amelia approach. Debra was the Director of Early Childhood at Larchmont Temple when she wrote her blog about Maple Tree Tapping. While at Larchmont she coordinated a highly successful Nursery School Mitvah Project and a parent-volunteer vegetable garden.
fore her years at Larchmont Temple, Debra was the Associate Director of the JCC in Manhattan on the Upper West Side, where she worked for 6 years implementing an original music program and teaching music.
Debra received her graduate degree in Early Childhood/Elementary Education from Hunter College. She also graduated from SUNY Purchase with a major in Political Science and a minor in dance. She has been working with children and families for over 20 years.
Tara is a New York State certified Elementary Teacher. She also has her Masters Degree in Environmental Education. When Tara wrote her blog she was in her 11th year as a Pre-k Teacher at North Shore Synagogue Nursery School located in Syosset NY. Tara specializes in creating and developing Outdoor Classrooms for educational facilities on Long Island. She develops programs on environmental education for local schools, summer programs and early childhood centers.
Samantha is originally from Long Island and currently live and work in Manhattan. She teaches the 4/5’s at Temple Shaaray Tefila Nursery School in NYC and has been a teacher there for five years. Samantha received her masters in early childhood education at Hunter College in January of 2013 and studied human development and family studies at Indiana University graduating in 2009. She loves incorporating music and drama into her classroom and says, “The best part of teaching is watching children develop and learn how to ask questions about the world around them.”
Mary Lou Allen
Mary Lou is an experienced early childhood Jewish educator. She is currently working as an independent early childhood consultant, specializing in infant toddler development and quality child care. She is a certified PITC (Programs for Infant Toddler Caregivers) trainer, providing staff development to teachers and directors on all aspects of quality care. Her career has spanned various early childhood settings including director of a hospital sponsored childcare center, principal for early child hood at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County and infant toddler director at the Green Lane YM/YWHA in Union, New Jersey. Most recently, Mary Lou was the national director for early childhood at CAJE (Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education)
When Bryna wrote her blogs he was the founding director of Luria Academy of Brooklyn, the first and only Jewish Montessori Early Childhood and Elementary School in New York. Under Bryna’s leadership as Education Director, Luria Academy expanded from seven preschoolers to 100 students, ages 2-12. Bryna developed curricula that utilize the Montessori Method of individualized instruction for both General and Judaic studies, ensuring that no student is left out of a quality and personalized Jewish education. This method builds curiosity in children so that they begin to explore topics on their own. It is not unique to see 3 year old children at Luria Academy even leading a classroom discussion. Today, Bryna works at The Jewish Education Project and is the Director of Educational Change Projects.
Hillary is an Edible Garden Consultant. She helps schools create and achieve success with their school gardens. Hillary has extensive experience creating gardens for all grades including preschool environments, religious schools programs, extracurricular programming, and communities. She has taught edible gardening and cooking to thousands of children, educators and families. When Hillary wrote her blog she was the director of the edible school garden at the Rosenthal JCC. She also Co-Founded & Directed the Pleasantville School District edible school gardens for 10 years. Since founding the first garden at BRS Elementary School in 2005, she has taught thousands of K–12 children, families and educator’s about garden-to-table planting, growing, harvesting and healthy eating. Hillary was the Family Food Solution speaker on Assemblywoman Sandra Galef’s televised, “Panel on Childhood Nutrition” and UJA Federation of New York’s, “Raising Healthy Children,”
Susan Golob Poltarak
When Susan wrote her blog she was a Communal Educational Consultant for The Jewish Education Project’s Department of Early Childhood and Family Engagement. Susan facilitated the Early Childhood Directors’ Networks in Westchester and Brooklyn and provided one-on-one consultations for the early childhood center directors in Westchester. A respected early childhood director in the Westchester community for many years, Susan is an expert in professional development and designs and coordinates seminars and conferences across the New York region. She also represented The Jewish Education Project on the advisory committee for Project SEED, a Westchester Jewish Community Services initiative funded in part by UJA-Federation that provides educational seminars and supportive services for early childhood directors and teachers in Westchester Jewish education programs.
Susan Remick Topek
Susan Remick Topek is the associate director of Early Childhood and Family Engagement at The Jewish Education Project. Her department facilitates and networks over 250 early childhood centers in the New York area (including the five boroughs, Westchester and Long Island) including the networks she facilitaties: Long Island Network, Queens Yehsiva Day School, Network and the new LI JCC network. She has presented at professional conferences for teachers from early childhood through high school in many venues in the tri-state area and nationally. She is a storyteller as well as the author of several books published by Lerner Publications (formally Kar-Ben Copies, Inc). She has been the president of the National Association of Jewish Early Childhood Specialist (NAJECS) and the National Jewish Early Childhood Network (NJECN) She holds a MA in Jewish Education and a graduate certificate in Jewish early childhood education from Gratz College.
When Marni wrote her blog post she was Project Manager and Communal Education Consultant for The Jewish Education Project. Marni has been working with children and families for over 20 years in both formal and informal settings. She has a BS in Family and Community Studies from the University of Massachusetts, a Masters in Non-Profit Management and Social Policy from Brandeis University, and a Masters in Social Work from Columbia University. Marni has spent much time working with families and helping them gain insight into their child’s world or assisting them in advocating for their family’s needs. Marni is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and sits on the New York City Association for the Education of Young people’s Policy Committee. In addition, Marni is a member of the New York Statewide Breastfeeding Coalition and in her spare time helps new moms adjust to parenthood through support and education. Marni lives in New York City with her husband and 4 year old son.
Shari Weinberger is the Teaching Coach and Curriculum Coordinator at the Jewish Community School of Rhode Island. New to Rhode Island, Shari has lived and worked in many places including New York, Israel, Panama and Connecticut. Shari loves fresh air. She also loves to cook and host dinner parties. She doesn’t like folding laundry. Fortunately, her husband doesn’t mind that job. They have 3 children in college at the same time. Oy!
Chanie began her teaching career as an early childhood educator, spending eight years teaching infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. While teaching in Manhattan’s highly innovative and acclaimed Preschool of the Arts, she began to develop her vision of a creative, progressive and revolutionary path in early education. In 2013, Chanie took a break from her teaching to pursue higher studies at Mercy College where she received her Masters in Special Education and Early Childhood. In 2014, using her training and creative talents, Chanie developed, wrote and published a curriculum support book for the early childhood classroom that has sold hundreds of copies! In addition, Chanie currently directs the early childhood program at the Beis Rivkah Seminary in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, NY