Our Younger Infant Educators (Arnahvot-Bunnies)

Olivia Marquard,  Brenda Madyun, Barb Kaiserman, and Patience Michaels


Olivia has a BA in Elementary Education and Early Childhood from California University of Pennsylvania. She has experience teaching in the public school and also in the daycare setting. She just loves seeing the kids laugh. Her favorite children’s book is Olivia the Pig and outside of Beth Shalom she loves to cook, garden, and do Pinterest projects. Her favorite Beth Shalom experience was the first time she went to Shul.

Our Older Infant Educators (Dageem-Fish)

Norah Cauley,  Gillian Riffe, Alexandria Lloyd, and Krista Ondish


Norah has worked as a nanny and at different centers for the past 9 years. Her favorite teaching moment is watching and helping the children in her room through so many developmental milestones: from sitting up to walking. Norah’s favorite children’s book is Noisy Norah, and outside of Beth Shalom she enjoys reading and cooking. She really has enjoyed getting to know her co-workers and Beth Shalom families.

Our Young Toddler Educators (Nemaleem-ants)  

Justyn Nathan,  Cari Halferty, Amy Burgowski, Nikki D’Abarno


Justyn has a BA from Point Park University in Elementary Education and has been a teacher for 12 years for ages 6 months to 14 years. His favorite children’s book is Goodnight Moon. Outside of Beth Shalom, Justyn enjoys running.

Our Older Toddler Educators (Doobeem-Teddy Bears)

Bryce Tallon,  Ashley Miller, Aries Finch, Keelie, and Meghan Hyland


Bryce began working with children through babysitting, as a counselor at overnight camp. She has been at Beth Shalom for almost three years and her educational background is in Applied Developmental Psychology and Early Childhood Education. Bryce also teaches first grade for JJEP. Her favorite teaching moments are watching the children grow and being a part of their growth. Her favorite children’s book is Eloise and Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse. Outside of Beth Shalom, she is interested in Lily, her kitten, hanging out with her husband Tim, coloring books, and Netflix. Bryce says, “This community has given me a home in Pittsburgh.”

Our Younger Twos Educators (Arayoht-Lions)

Melissa Legnine, Julia Dennis, and Faryn Samples


Melissa has been working for 4 years in child care and has an Associates Degree in Early Education and Child Development. Her favorite teaching moments are watching children grow and utilize the skills they’ve been taught. Her favorite children’s book is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Outside of Beth Shalom, Melissa enjoys arts and crafts, and baking. Her favorite Beth Shalom moments are collaborating and learning from fellow educators.

Our Older Twos Educators (Parparim- Butterflies)

Michelle Mark and Hannah Petrone


Michelle has a BA from Point Park University in Early Childhood and 25+ years working in Early Childhood Education. She also babysat and worked at camp. She loves when kids have the “Ah Ha” connection and the book Where the Wild Things Are. Outside of Beth Shalom, Michelle enjoys spending time with friends, reading, and cuddling with her dog, Callie. Her favorite Beth Shalom memories include the friendships she has made with her colleagues that have lasted for twenty-five years, and how after the fire at Beth Shalom the community came together.

Our Threes Educators (Peeleem-Elephants)

Elana Raz,  Cindy Speck, and Karen Ben Olenseifer 


Elana holds a BA in Education from Levinsky College in Tel Aviv and has taught at Beth Shalom for eight years. She loves the smile on a child’s face when they grasp something new and the book Room on a Broom. When not at Beth Shalom she enjoys the outdoors and playing kickball with her three children.

Our Threes Educators (D’Voreem-Bees)

Joan Harrigan and Sarah Stockslager


Joan has and MFA in Writing from the University of Pittsburgh and a BS in Education from Edinboro. She has over 40 years experience and has been an educator at Beth Shalom for two years. Joan says her favorite teaching moment “always has and always will be watching the spark catch and the fire begin to blaze.” Her favorite children’s book is Alice and Wonderland, and outside of Beth Shalom she enjoy reading, writing, time with her dogs, and movies.

Our Pre-K Educators (Dolfeeneem-Dolphins)

Katie Rahuba and Chen Kirshner 


Katie has her BA from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Child Development and Family and Relative Studies. She has been teaching early childhood education for ten years. She has so many favorite teaching moments she can’t just pick one! Her favorite children’s book is There is a Monster At the End of this Book, and outside of Beth Shalom she enjoys spending time with her family and camping. Katie’s favorite Beth Shalom moment was meeting the staff on her first day. “Everyone made me feel like I was a part of their family.”


Our Pre-K Educators (Krisheem-Sharks)

Teresa Narey and Rebecca Schueler


Teresa will be in our Pre-K classroom while Morah Chen is on maternity leave! Teresa has ten years of experience in early child care including working as the assistant director of a center, a lead teacher, and a nanny. She is also pursuing her Masters in Education at Champlain College. Her favorite teaching moment is when children learn to resolve a conflict or work together to complete a task. Her favorite children’s book is Miss Nelson is Missing and outside of Beth Shalom she enjoys running, writing, poetry, reading nonfiction, and hanging out in coffee shops with her husband, Daniel. At Beth Shalom she really enjoys Morah Elaine’s science lessons!

Our Education Assistants

  Diane Dzurikanin,  Lindsay Rusnak, Faryn Samples, Lacey Weyels, David Warga, Jarrett Krause, Lindsay Rusnak and Bernie Lundy

Our Science Specialist

Elaine Catz 



Elaine has a BS in Applied Math, Engineering, and Physics, and a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering. After working in the industry, she spent four years teaching at a preschool. In the mid-1990s she mixed her former jobs together, found her true calling in science education, and has taught in a multitude of venues ever since. When she isn’t spending time with her husband and daughter, Elaine can often be found tending her garden and photographing insects.

Our Art Specialist

Julie Lewinter



Julie has been working at Beth Shalom for 7 years and recently received her Child Development Associates degree. She finds working here to be fulfilling at the end of the day. Her favorite teaching moment was when she received the job of Studio Educator. Julie loves Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss, and outside of Beth Shalom she rides horses, goes fishing, enjoys outdoor cooking, and the Pittsburgh Penguins! Her favorite thing about Beth Shalom is that she has become like sisters with her other Beth Shalom educators.

Our Music Specialist

Marina Shapiro



Marina has been teaching music and movement for 39 years. Her favorite teaching moments are when she sees how the children respond to the programs she plans. Planning dances and graduation are her favorite parts of teaching at Beth Shalom. Outside of Beth Shalom, Marina likes to watch movies and programs.

Our Judaics Specialist

Myriam Gumerman

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Myriam has over 20 years working with children. She says, “They are amazing little human beings. I am constantly in awe, seeing how the wheels are turning in their head.” Her favorite teaching moments are hearing the children talk and apply  something they learned in class. She loves the children’s book, The Art Lesson by Tommie DePaola, and outside of Beth Shalom she enjoys walking, yoga, and swimming. Myriam’s favorite Beth Shalom memory was being interviewed by Fern Moscov. “Kindness and goodness emanated from her. I accepted the position on the spot.”

Our Reading Specialist

Rochelle Packard



Rochelle has a Masters in Education and taught for thirty years in Pittsburgh Public Schools.  Her favorite teaching moments are when students grasp a new concept, and her favorite children’s book is The Frog and the Toad series. Outside of works, Rochelle likes to go on bike rides, watch movies, and go the theater and Heinz Hall.

Our Director

Jennifer Slattery



Jennifer has an elementary education degree from the University of Pennsylvania and Mercyhurst University, as well as 11 years experience teaching children ages infant through 12 years old. She received her Director’s Credentials from CCAC. Her favorite teaching moment was watching an infant take his first step. He had struggled with walking and succeeded. There wasn’t a dry eye in the classroom. Jen’s favorite children’s book is Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself by Judy Blume. Outside of Beth Shalom, she enjoys reading, spending time with her family, and shopping. Her favorite Beth Shalom experience was when we honored the founder of the Early Learning Center, Fern Moscov. She was Jennifer’s preschool teacher at the Hebrew Institute. Fern has also served as a mentor for her amazing work in the early childhood education field.

Our Assistant Director


Hilary Huelsmann


Hilary has a dual degree in Elementary and Special Education. She has worked in a variety of child care centers and after school programs, and spent a year teaching special education students in North Carolina. Her favorite teaching moment is storytime. Interacting with the children by asking questions is also always enlightening. Hilary’s favorite children’s book is Oh the Places You’ll Go! Outside of Beth Shalom, she enjoys shopping, listening to music, working out, and anytime spent with friends is treasured. This is her third year at Beth Shalom and first as Assistant Director.

Our Web Specialist and Operations Manager

Kara Olson



Kara is beginning her 5th School Year here at Beth Shalom. She has a BA in History and Religious Studies from the College of Wooster. She was a youth director for 2 years in Mobile, Alabama before moving to Pittsburgh and becoming an “accidental techie.” You can ask Kara any questions about the website, Facebook, or other marketing that is happening in the school. You might also see Kara rocking babies and subbing in classrooms. Outside of Beth Shalom, she loves to read, travel, cook, bake, and go to a good coffee shop. Her favorite children’s book is The BFG by Roald Dahl (though it is for slightly older children), and her favorite Beth Shalom experience was planning summer camp which entailed helping the kids plant in the garden and bringing Charlie the Poodle for a visit.


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