Cindy Band – 5th Grade
My name is Cindy Band and this is my 19th year teaching at Old York Road Temple-Beth Am. I currently teach 5th grade hebrew and judaica. I also taught the high school age students for numerous years.
I have a B.A. degree in Elementary Education, and a M.A. degree as a Reading Specialist, so I am double certified. I taught in the Philadelphia School District for 7 years. I am married and have one son who went through the Hebrew School at Beth Am and became a confirmand. After teaching in Philadelphia, I was a stay at home mom raising my son, and then worked at a religious pre-school he attended. I also was a substitute teacher for 12 years in the Lower Moreland School District.
I love working with students of all ages and watching them grow and mature during the school years. This year, I am excited to be working with the students who are studying to become b. mitzvah. I am so thrilled to be able to help them learn the prayers and portions they will need to do on their special day.
Old York Road Temple-Beth Am is my synagogue and I am so happy that I am able to express my creativity here with the students and learn along with them.
Anita Block – 3rd Grade
I have been a Jewish educator for many years, teaching children from infants through 12th grade, as well as adults. I was the founding director of the Early Childhood Center at Main Line Reform Temple. After 14 years, I became the Education Director for the Early Childhood Department and the Religious School for an additional 7 years.
I have also been the Principal of the Perelman Jewish Day School, Forman Campus and the Director of the NESS Initiative for the Auerbach Central Agency for Jewish Education working with 11 schools in the Philadelphia area and schools in Detroit, Pittsburgh and San Francisco. In addition, I taught adult classes at Gratz College for Early Childhood Educators seeking a credential in early childhood education (CDA).
I hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Saint Joseph’s University in Elementary Education, a Master’s Degree from Arcadia University in Early Childhood Education and Administration and a Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies from Gratz College. Also, I present at local conferences and conducts workshops on secular and Jewish subjects.
Currently, I am the Interim Director at Congregation Adath Jeshurun Preschool and Infant Center and teaching online classes for religious school teachers through the Gratz NEXT program.
Judy Cohen – 6th Grade
Jewish Studies and Education are my academic passions and I earned a Master of Arts in both areas from Gratz College as well as a Certificate in Jewish Education for Special Needs. I also have a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and a Master’s Equivalency in Language Arts and Reading from Temple University and taught 4th and 5th grades in the secular school. I have taught many years at OYRT-Beth in the 3rd to 10th grades and 11th and 12th grades as a Branch Director for The Jewish Community High School of Gratz College. I led many workshops for teachers in both the secular and religious school arenas. I am proud to have been the Establishing Coordinator and Supervisor of our prestigious Resource Center for Special Needs. My love of learning, teaching and students has enabled me to reap many career and personal rewards throughout my life and I am very much looking forward to working with our incoming sixth grade students and sharing a most special educational and spiritual journey with them this year.
Jamie Madnick – Youth Group
I was born and raised in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania and my parents decided to send me to Hebrew school at Temple Beth Am where I eventually received a Bat Mitzvah by Rabbi Leib! From the age of 12, I naturally always found a way to combine my hobbies to working with children. I worked as a camp counselor, gymnastics and dance instructor, cheer coach, and more.
When it comes to community service, I’m a lifer! My career as a lifelong volunteer and educator started with a club at my former high school called Best Buddies. Best Buddies gives the opportunity for children with special needs to make lasting, true friendships with teens who also benefit from the unique experience. After being paired up with my buddy and going to events with him, I knew that the experience had changed my life forever.
I then went on to college to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary and Special Education. After college, I landed a job teaching in an autistic support classroom for two years and had a great learning experience, but I realized something was missing in my life. I decided to take some time off from teaching and took an amazing opportunity and started working for Club Mediterranee. I worked in the mini club in Florida and Mexico for two years where I was able to travel and meet people from all over the world. A guest asked me towards the end of my experience, “What are you going to do when you settle down after Club Med?” I responded, “I want to work with children in the Jewish community. I now teach at Center City Jewish preschool and am the current Youth Advisor for Temple Beth Am, which is exactly what I had envisioned for myself. I am very happy to be back in the community where I grew up and inspire others to get more involved!
Debbie Gettes Neibauer – Madrichim
I have been working as a Jewish educator for 35 years. I retired from teaching special education in public schools and decide to become a special needs consultant for ACAJE which is now Jewish Learning Venture. A few years after I lost my first husband Andy, I remarried Fred Neibauer. We live in Elkins Park, next door to Rabbi Lieb and Randy! After belonging to Congregation Or Ami for 42 years we decided to make a change and joined Beth Am. I am so happy to be working with the teens in the Madrichim program and I look forward to becoming an active member of Beth Am!
Eric Neibauer – 7th – 10th Grade
Hello, I my name is Eric and I will be teaching seventh grade this year. It will be my first year at Beth Am and I am very excited for the opportunity to work with this fun group. I have been a history and social studies teacher for the past 20 years at the Crefeld School in Chestnut Hill and I look forward to teaching purely Jewish history again. I am very excited for the upcoming school year!
Alicia Paul – Kindergarten
I am currently the pre-k teacher in the School of Early Learning and the kindergarten teacher in the Beth Am religious school. I have been teaching for 17 years now, ever since I graduated from the University of Delaware with my bachelor’s degree in education. I first came to Temple Beth Torah as a teaching assistant with the 4 year old class and the very next year I began teaching pre-k/K in my own classroom. I absolutely love teaching because the children can always put a great big smile on my face. On a personal note, I am lucky enough to be the mommy to a fabulous 9 year old who just started 4th grade and a 6 year old who just started 1st grade in the Upper Moreland school district.
Bruce Sham – Resource Room
I am the Co-founder of the Amanda Sham Resource Center and have been teaching in the center for 27 years. As a result of the program we have been able to accommodate students from all over the Tri-County area and provide them with a Jewish Education. Professionally, I am a Senior Vice President at Mass Mutual Greater Philadelphia, in Bala Cynwyd, Pa, where I specialize in helping families with children with special needs, navigate through the maze of government benefits, waiver programs, and Special Needs Trusts. I am the past president of Adults with Developmental Disabilities in Jenkintown, Pa and an Advisory Board member for the Friendship Circle and Access Sports. All these organizations provide social and educational programs for children in the local region. My greatest accomplishment was being able to facilitate the first Birthright trip to Israel for 40 students with special needs that continues today.
Stacey Stein – Resource Room
I am very excited to be starting my fourth year in the Resource Room! I work with students in Grades 4-6 in small groups, and assist them with strengthening their Hebrew reading skills. This is done by helping the students with their individual needs, whether they be letter/vowel recognition, decoding words, or strengthening reading fluency. Throughout the years that I have been working in the Resource Room, I have observed students flourish and become more confident in their ability to read Hebrew.
When I am not teaching in the Resource Room, I enjoy spending quality time with my husband and two sons. I am also a special education teacher for the School District of Philadelphia. This year marks my eighth year with the school district, and I am teaching Autistic Support to students in Grade 9.
Orna Torgeman – 7th Grade – Hebrew Through Movement
I was born in Haifa, Israel where I double majored in Education and Jewish History at Haifa University, after serving in the National Service. Upon Graduating, I was the assistant coordinator of Public relations and a secretary in the Humanities department at her University. Eventually I found my way to the United States where I found MY niche as an educator. I have been educating students for 2 decades now. I began teaching in Montessori day school in 1998 at Temple Beth Am, in 2000 I received and accepted a job offer to teach at an up and coming Jewish High School, which I am still a part of as the department chair of Hebrew Language.
Alison Walters – 4th Grade
Shalom! I teach Grades 4, 8 & 9. This will be my eleventh-year teaching at Old York Road Temple-Beth Am. During the week, I teach 30 fabulous first graders at Clara Barton School, in the Feltonville neighborhood of Philadelphia.
I love teaching here at Beth Am. The students are engaged, curious and inquisitive. I love being a part of their Jewish learning. I am looking forward to this year- we have so many new and exciting things happening in our Mensch Lab!
Jeffrey Zucker – 1st & 2nd Grade
I have loved educating others for many years. I suppose it all began with my days at camp. As a child and teenager, I attended a local day camp and learned not only sports and social skills, but patience and creativity as well. I then took my love of camp to the next level by attended Camp Harlam, a URJ camp in the Poconos. At Harlam I was both a counselor and unit head for nearly every age camper. That experience added a love of Judaism and tradition to my repertoire.
Partly because of my years of camp, I then became an elementary school teacher in Philadelphia. After teaching most grades between kindergarten and fifth I longed for a new challenge. I then received a certification in teaching English as a second language. I have been teaching English language learners ever since. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my wife and daughters. I also have a deep love and appreciating for music and play, not only the guitar, but the ukulele as well.