Meet Our Teachers

Our Younger Infant Educators 


Olivia Marquard, Brenda Madyun, Shelby Mehn

and Poli Schkoza


Lead Educator, 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


Norah Cauley, Lauren Evans, Kassidy Edmonds, 

Anna Azarkhin and Katie DeCarlo




Lead Educator, Norah Cauley is a graduate of West Virginia University.  She graduated with a degree in Communication Studies and Public Relations in 2006.  Soon after, she returned to Pittsburgh and took various classes through CCAC, Point Park University and the University of Pittsburgh in the fields of early childhood development, elementary education, and special education.  It was then that she found her passion for early childhood education.  She has been a nanny and a day care teacher for the past twelve years.  She is beginning her fifth year at Beth Shalom, her fourth as a lead teacher.  In her room she and her staff provide great structure  to ensure a positive and safe learning environment.  They give unlimited care and attention to each child individually.  They also offer involvement from families and the Beth Shalom community to aid in the immense development that occurs in the next years of their child’s lives.

Our Young Toddler Educators


Samantha Shelton, Nikki D’Abarno

and Caroline Goldstein


Lead Educator, Samantha has taught preschool children and has many years of babysitting for a variety of family and friends. Her favorite teaching moment is seeing the development that each child has throughout even the shortest time, whether it is first steps, words, or rapport between students and teachers. Her favorite children’s book is Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and outside of Beth Shalom she enjoys tennis and reading. Her favorite Beth Shalom experience has been the welcoming staff and parents.

Our Older Toddler Educators

(Doobeem-Teddy Bears)

Bryce Tallon, ParaDise Pitt-Callahan,

and Kristen Schwalm


Lead Educator, 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 Twos Educators


 Julia Dennis, Rebecka Hinson and Brittany Young 


Lead Educator, Julia has a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts from the University of North Florida.  She has been working in childcare since 2010. She loves sharing her love for art and music. She also loves when a child sings a song that she taught them or creates something unique during art projects. Her favorite children’s books are The Monster at the End of this Book and Pete the Cat. Outside of Beth Shalom she enjoys collecting musical instruments, playing musical instruments, painting, drawing, sewing, and thrift stores.

Our Twos Educators

(Parparim- Butterflies)

Michelle Mark, Hannah Petrone and Leanne Sloan


Lead Educator, 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


Elana Raz, Lauren Begun and

Anita Gargano 


Lead Educator, 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


Joan Harrigan, Fran Dun

and Diane Dzurikanin


Lead Educator, 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 four 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


Katie Rahuba, Chen Kirshner and Rachel Lecocq


Lead Educator, 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


Krista Ondish and Bella Markovitz



Our Education Assistants

   David Warga, Maryann Runco,

Tavia Moore, Myriam Gumerman,

Lucia Petrone, Rachel Busse

and Zen Viorla

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 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


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 story time. 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 fifth year at Beth Shalom and first as Director.


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