The Temple Beth Torah School of Early Learning at Old York Road Temple – Beth Am staff promotes a warm, friendly and family feeling atmosphere. All staff members are professionally trained and experienced early childhood educators. They all hold current Red Cross certification in first aid and many complete CPR training every other year. Their love of teaching children fills the air at the school.
Orna Avitan, Assistant Teacher
I was born in Israel and came to the United States 25 years ago. In Israel during high school I attended the Rubin Academy of Music. After high school, I went into the Israeli army for 3 years. Following this time, I worked for the Israeli government as a secretary. I currently live in Philadelphia; Pennsylvania and I have been married for 40 years. I have 5 children and 9 grandchildren and 2 of them come to school at Beth Am. I have been an assistant teacher for 14 years and I have been teaching Hebrew enrichment classes for the last 8 of those years. In closing, let me just say that I love my job!Nannette Bieber, Teacher
Hi! I am known as “Bieber” to the many children I have taught over the past 39 years. I am originally from Trenton, New Jersey where I attended Rider College. When my daughter was 3 and attending nursery school, I was asked if I would like to “help out” with her class. I fell in love with all of the children and I have been working as a toddler teacher ever since. I am a widow with a wonderful daughter, Nicole, who is also a teacher. I am very fortunate that I am able to see my grandson Brody each day as he is a student in our school. I definitely feel that teaching your children is the most rewarding career that I could have chosen. I look forward to creating many more happy memories as a member of the teaching staff of the Temple Beth Torah School of Early Learning at Old York Road Temple- Beth Am.
Paula Bragg, Assistant Teacher
I am excited to be part of such an amazing and close-knit staff. Even though I only started working at Beth Am in January, 2019, the preschool staff has quickly become like an extended family to me. I appreciate what I have learned thus far and the children here at Old York Road Temple-Beth Am are wonderful to work with!
Jessica Bryman, Assistant Teacher
As the mother of two children who attend the School of Early Learning, I have seen firsthand what an incredible school it is. That is why I am so excited to be a part of the school as an assistant teacher this year. I have had many experiences working with children including as a swim instructor, camp counselor, nanny, and most importantly as a mom. I look forward to watching your little ones grow and flourish!
Lisa Carr, Assistant Teacher
I am a graduate of Temple University with a Bachelor of Science degree in education. I am certified to teach early childhood, elementary and special education. Previously, I taught kindergarten for 8 years in the Philadelphia School District before leaving teaching to raise my family.
I am the proud parent of 4 beautiful children; 3 girls and 1 boy ages 15, 12, 9 and 7. I always knew that I would return to my passion, teaching, one day and I am so excited to become part of your school community. I am looking forward to fostering your child’s love of learning and helping them to grow!
Marsha Cohen, Assistant Teacher
I am an assistant teacher in Temple Beth Am’s pre-k class. I started, however, when we were located at Temple Beth Torah on Welsh Road and now have been with Sherrie for 24 years. I have enjoyed working with the children and watching them grow and develop. I have an AS degree in child care from Temple University and I am married with 3 children who also attended TBT nursery and Hebrew school. I am now a “mom-mom” to 3 beautiful granddaughters and I grandson. Let me finish by saying how much I enjoy my time working with your children.
Deb Cozen, Assistant Teacher
The kids call me Miss Deb or Miss Debbie. I have a BA in Elementary Education plus an M.S. in General Education, and I taught Middle School Science for 8 years prior to having my own children. I then spent 10 years working in the preschool my own children attended. For the past 4 years, I have enjoyed being on staff at SOEL where I love working with the children and teachers alike.
Illene Davis, Assistant Teacher
I have been working for 27 years between Temple Beth Torah and Old York Road Temple-Beth Am, but I have been working with young children for the last 34 years. Even as a little girl myself of just 10 years old, I was running a day camp at my house for the neighborhood children. I suppose it was always in me to take care of children and to this very day, I still absolutely love it!
Kelly Doherty, Teacher
I am so excited to be teaching here at the School of Early Learning! Let me tell you a little about myself. I graduated from West Chester University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and I have my Instructional II teaching certification. All that really means is that I have devoted my life to teaching children from the age of 12 months all the way up to eighth grade. I started my career teaching 3 year olds in an early childhood center. Throughout the years I explored many different age groups and taught children in elementary school, but my heart always brings me back to the “little ones.” I love observing their curiosity and their enthusiasm for learning and I am so happy to be able to nurture, support and develop these things everyday. The only thing better than being a teacher is being a mother to my awesome son and daughter!
Monique GraBois, Assistant Teacher
Most people call me Mo, but my full name is Monique GraBois. This year is my first year working full time as an assistant teacher at TBT School of Early Learning at Old York Road Temple-Beth Am. I’ve been a substitute for the past few years. My passion and desire is in working with children, teaching them new things and watching them grow and develop. I am married to Perry GraBois who is a lifelong member of OYRTBA and we have 2 boys Aaron (5th grade) and Jarred (8th grade) who recently celebrated his Bar Mitzvah. Our sons attended this wonderful preschool and Aaron is currently enrolled in OYRTBA’s Hebrew School. I am looking forward to an exciting fun-filled year here with your children and my colleagues.
Laurie Jacobson, Teacher
I attended Penn State University and graduated with my degree in special education. I have 4 children; 3 grandchildren and I have been married for 37 years. I have been teaching for more than 20 years and I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. I look forward to and enjoy my days with all of my adorable boys and girls. I strive for each child to have fun learning in a safe, loving and nurturing environment. The best days are when the children learn through hands on, messy, whimsical activities. In our classroom, our home away from home, each unique child forms a part of our classroom community and contributes to our team in their own special way.
Sue Kardos, Teacher
Beth Am Preschool is a warm and welcoming school. I am happy to be a part of its team! I have had my BS in Early Childhood Education for over 25 years. I have always been Lead Teacher and I am thrilled to be continue doing so while working with children at Beth Am. Presently, I am teaching one of our schools two year old classes.
The children are sweet, kind and curious about the world around them. I am thrilled to help guide them in their day to day happenings while helping to facilitate their social, emotional and academic growth.
Personally, I enjoy long walks with my husband and dog. There are so many experiences that one can get from our environment while outside. I get so excited to share them with the children.
Melissa Katz, Teacher
I am a 2 year old teacher here at the School of Early Learning. I graduated Temple University with a BA in psychology and I am currently working on my Masters in Early Childhood & Special Education. When I am not in school, I really enjoy baking and I’m really excited to start incorporating some baking into the classroom this year. I have always enjoyed working with young children especially the toddler age. Seeing the progression of how much they learn and develop throughout the year is always so rewarding.
Leslie Kraemer, Music Teacher
I am the preschool music teacher here at Beth Am. As far back as I can remember music has been so very important to me. I have been teaching piano and preschool music for over 31 years. I was a Head Start teacher right out of college. I am a certified “Music Together” teacher and I have earned my CDA. I have developed several special musical programs here at Beth Am. High Holiday services, as well as our monthly Friday evening Tot Shabbats and Torah for Tots on Saturday mornings are a delight. Singing, dancing and playing music with the little ones always puts a smile on my face and a spring in my step!
Meryl Lewin, Assistant Director
In the School of Early Learning I have several roles, but the one I am most proud of is Assistant Director to Sherrie Turetsky. I have been in the field of Early Childhood education for almost 25 years serving in many capacities ranging from teaching to preparing lunch. I have a bachelor’s degree from Temple University in history and I returned to school later to earn my teaching credits from Gwynnedd Mercy University. On a personal note, my husband and I are lucky enough to have a daughter (Jennifer), a son-in-law, (Daniel) and two amazing grandsons, Isaac and Sammy. Working with all of you and your children is a joy and I look forward to many more years of greeting all of you out at carpool line.Donna Martino, Teacher
I am the lead teacher in one of our school’s 3 year old classes. I have been working in the field of early childhood education for more than 21 years now and all I can say is that this is one of the most rewarding careers I could have chosen for myself. Each year and every single day with your children brings joy, laughter and pure fun into my life. Outside of school, some of my hobbies include baking, gardening and finding new little towns to explore with my wonderful husband. I look forward to many more years of joy with the children who attend our preschool.
Nina Nguyen, Assistant Teacher
I am the First Steppers assistant teacher. I graduated from Temple University with a bachelor’s degree in English, but I have always found myself working with children and youth in some way or another. I love the genuine curiosity and excitement that children show towards just about everything and it is very rewarding to watch a child grow and develop through the interactions they have with their teachers and their friends. I can’t wait to greet you and your child every morning as they begin a full-filled day with us here at SOEL!
Alicia Paul, Teacher
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 16 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 7-year-old who just started 2nd grade in the Upper Moreland school district and a 4-year-old who is currently in the four-year-old program here at SOEL Beth Am.
Melissa Plumly, Teacher
I am thrilled to be leading our Wilderness Explorers through the 2018 – 2019 school year! Born and raised in Jenkintown, I have called Glenside my home for the last 9 years. I completed my B.S. in psychology with a double minor in sociology and theatre arts from the University of Pittsburgh in 2007. In 2013, I completed a M.A. in counseling psychology with a certificate in child and family therapy from Arcadia University. When I’m not teaching I love spending time with my family and friends, working in my gardens, baking, birdwatching and participating in community theatre productions.
Ashley Rothstein, Teacher
Hi! I am one of the new assistant teachers in the School of Early Learning. I am 24 years old and I live in northeast Philly. I enjoy playing on the internet, bowling, and spending time with my beautiful niece. I absolutely love spending my days with the infants and first steppers and I am looking forward to a fun-filled, rewarding year.Jacquie Smith, Teacher
I have been the lead teacher in the Infant Center for the last three years. I have a bachelor’s degree in education with more than 20 years of experience working with children. I immigrated from Jamaica many years ago and I am married with 2 daughters. My hobbies include gardening and cooking. I believe that children are our greatest asset and they should be nurtured in such a way as to bring out the very best in them. I am looking forward to continuing to serve the families of the School of Early Learning.
Sherrie Turetsky, Director
I have been involved in the field of Early Childhood Education for the past 28 years. First, I was the director of Temple Beth Torah preschool for 18 years, the same school I attended as a child. In 2004, Temple Beth Torah merged with Old York Road Temple-Beth Am and this became our new home. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education as well as a Master’s Degree in Education from Beaver College, now Arcadia University. Additionally, I served as co-director and programming coordinator for the Lower Moreland Parenting Center for 8 years. In this capacity, I facilitated many group discussions, workshops and parenting classes. I describe myself as a hands-on director, meaning I will do anything to escape my office and interact with the children. As a mother of 3 young men, I know that a child is your most precious gift and as director I strive to provide a safe, loving environment for them to thrive. I would be happy to answer any and all questions you may have related to either the synagogue or our school since our tagline is “home away from home”.