Our staff is comprised of highly qualified, experienced, talented and professional early childhood educators. All of our Lead Teachers have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, and many have earned master’s degrees in their fields. They are passionate about their work and actively seek out workshops and new training opportunities each year.
At TCEE, we enjoy weekly visits from a music and movement specialist and other special guests. Our children and parents also benefit from warm, caring relationships with our clergy members, Rabbi Sonia Saltzman and Cantor Jacqueline Breines.
Administrative and Teaching Staff
Shari Churwin, Education Director
Shari has been a part of the Ohabei Shalom staff for over twenty years in many different educational positions including Education Administrator, Youth Educator, and Family Educator. She now serves as our Education Director helping to direct our vision of Jewish Education as we enter the 21st century.
Shari is a proud graduate of Indiana University, Bloomington (Go Hoosiers) with a bachelor’s degree in Jewish Studies and Sociology. She has a master’s degree in Jewish Education and also holds a Certificate in Jewish Family Education from Hebrew College. Shari is a member of the National Association of Temple Educators (NATE) the National Association Education of Young People (NAEYC) and the Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism (ECE-RJ).
Shari has worked at various synagogues in the Boston area as a formal and informal educator for both school-aged children and adults. She has worked in a variety of camp settings and has served as a part of the administration of several camps including Camp Micah and Camp Breakaway, a camp for underprivileged Jewish children. Shari and her husband, Mike, have three beautiful daughters, Hannah, Ashley and Julia.
Shari strives to connect with each child and family in our community to help them deepen their connections to the Ohabei Shalom community and explore ways in which Jewish values can be integrated into our daily lives. Shari is dedicated to creating a learning environment in which children (and their families) can grow to their fullest potential.
Amelia Cochin, TCEE Programs Coordinator and Teaching Staff
Amelia is excited to return to TCEE in her new role as TCEE Programs Coordinator. In addition to morning classroom teaching, Amelia can be found spending her afternoons in the office, so don’t forget to stop by and say, “Hi!” She is a graduate of Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. Amelia grew up in the Boston area as a member of Temple Ohabei Shalom. She particularly enjoys exploring children’s interests through inquiry units and can’t wait to continue to give back to the community that made her who she is today!
Ruthy Lewis, Education Admissions Coordinator
Ruthy graduated from UMass-Amherst in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. During her time in college, she spent a semester in Seville, Spain.
Ruthy loves animals, especially dogs. In her spare time, she likes to go on nature walks and occasionally binge watch shows on Netflix. She is excited to begin her new journey with Temple Ohabei Shalom.
Jill Berenson, Teaching Staff
Jill is excited to begin her fourth year at the TCEE. This is her 19th year of teaching and taught toddlers, preschool, and pre-kindergarten aged children, as well as elementary aged students. Jill received her bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Studies from the University of New Hampshire and her master’s degree in Elementary Education from the Lesley University. In 2007, she received her certification in early childhood education. In her spare time, she likes baking, reading, shopping, watching the Patriots, and spending time with friends.
Jillian O’Donnell, Teaching Staff
Jillian joined the TCEE staff in the fall of 2014. She has been working at early childhood centers since her time at Boston University. She is originally from Worcester, but moved to Boston to be closer to her favorite sports teams, including the Red Sox.
Rhona Maple is a graduate of the University of Hartford, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. This fall she will be entering her twenty sixth year as a Jewish Preschool educator. Rhona worked for the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston for twenty years, teaching Toddlers, Preschool, and Kindergarten. She joined the inaugural staff of the Diane K. Trust Center for Early Education at Temple Ohabei Shalom in the Fall of 2009, as the first teacher in the Preschool. This is her seventh year in that role. Since 2005, she has also taught Religious School at a South Shore Synagogue. Rhona loves visiting Los Angeles several times a year, so she can spend time with her daughter, son, daughter-in-law, and especially her granddaughter, Talia. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, cooking, shopping, and watching sports. Her favorite teams are the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, Bruins, and USC Trojans.
Liz Saffer, Teaching Staff
Liz received her bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology From Boston College. She is both Lead Teacher and Director certified by the Department of Early Education and Care. Liz has been teaching toddlers and preschoolers for over 10 years. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her nephews and niece.
Monique Holguin, Teaching Staff
Monique Holguin is originally from LA and has lived in Boston since February of 2014. She’s been working with children since the fall of 2008 and absolutely loves it! Monique believes that nothing is more exciting than getting children to make new and fun connections with themselves and the rest of the world.
Debbie Kurtzman, Teaching Staff
Debbie has always been interested in how children learn. She has found that the best combination for learning is to provide opportunities where the teachers and children can learn together. Debbie enjoys sharing her interests in science, gardening, cooking and literature with the children in her classroom. Debbie has a BS in Speech and Language Pathology from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. She has a MA in Special Education- Hearing Impaired from Eastern Michigan University. After moving to Massachusetts, she worked in early childhood programs at MIT’s Technology Children’s Center and at the Leventhal Sidman JCC in Newton. Debbie and her husband Jonathan live in Brookline with their two cats, Chester and Billy. They raised two daughters who graduated from Driscoll School and Brookline High School.
Deirdre O’Neill, Teaching Staff
Deirdre has nearly fifteen years of experience educating young children. She began her teaching career working with Early Intervention as a Parent Educator. She taught at Kehillath Israel Nursery School for many years working primarily in the three-year-old classroom. Deirdre has an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. She loves storytelling and in her free time is completing a children’s book series.
Edye Katz, Learning Specialist
Edye has been an Early Childhood Educator for almost 20 years. She loves being a part of each child’s development and partnering with families in the growth of their child. Since becoming a new mom, she is excited to explore this part of education by working at the Trust Center in each of the classrooms as the Learning Specialist.
Michelle Sager, Teaching Staff
Michelle joined the TCEE teaching staff in 2014. She lives in Dorchester with her dog, Max, and her three cats: Tobey, Munchkin and Bug. Since graduating from Boston University with an MFA (Studio Art Teaching), she has been working with children of all ages in a variety of settings in NJ and MA.
Alexa Roos, Afternoon Team
Alexa Roos has her bachelor’s in Child Psychology from Alfred University and her master’s in Clinical Counseling from Johns Hopkins University. She spent three years in Baltimore, working with inner-city youth and their families as a mental health therapist. Alexa also coordinates the HomeBase after school program
Izzy Schegolev, Teaching Staff
Izzy grew up at Ohabei Shalom, and wants to give back what her teachers gave to her. Izzy recently graduated from Framingham State University where she majored in psychology. Izzy is looking forward to beginning her 3rd year at TCEE.
Daniel Anderson, Teaching Staff
In 2015, Daniel moved to the Boston area from San Diego, California and joined our staff. He has worked for 11 summers at Camp Micah, and proudly survived his first New England winter! He is a passionate educator with a heart for music and theater.
Bret Wood, Teaching Staff
Bret joined the teaching staff in 2015. He is from a small mountain town in Pennsylvania where he went to Mansfield University and studied art education and worked with students from preschool to 12th grade. He has worked previously in preschools as an art and general education teacher. He looks forward to exploring the ideas of the world and our communities with students.
Adrienne Brown, Teaching Staff
Adrienne joined the TCEE staff in the fall of 2014. She is a Wheelock College graduate and has been working in both private and corporate childcare for 20 years. Adrienne lives with her family in West Roxbury
Anna Goodkind, Teaching Staff
Anna Goodkind is new to TCEE this year, but has been teaching children of a variety of ages for many years, most recently at the JCC Manhattan Nursery School in NYC. Anna grew up in Boston where she attended Boston public schools and graduated from Boston Latin School. She then moved to New York to attend Barnard College, and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Creative Writing. In 2015, Anna graduated from City College of New York with a Master’s of Fine Arts degree in English and Writing, with a focus on Children’s Literature. When she is not teaching, Anna is a writer, and is currently working on several children’s books and a young adult novel. She especially loves storytelling, fairytales, drama, reading and writing, yoga, and the arts, and is eager to share these interests with the children in her class. Anna, along with her teaching team at the JCC, was a 2015 recipient of the Regional Grinspoon Award for Excellence in Jewish education, which “recognizes innovative local educators who make a lasting impact on the lives of Jewish children,” for that team’s innovative approach to involving students in the use of documentation technology throughout the school year.
Emily Slater, Teaching Staff
Emily went to Union College where she majored in psychology and minored in sociology. She has worked with children on and off since she was 13 years old! After some time in the real world post college, she realized being with and around children full-time was what she wanted to do the most. Emily became a nanny for a wonderful TOS family and came to TCEE through them. Emily loves teaching toddlers in the mornings at TCEE in 2015. In her spare time, Emily enjoys walking around Boston and trying new restaurants.
Katie Dutton, Teaching Staff
Katie is delighted to join the TCEE teaching staff this fall. She is new to Boston, having just moved here after spending the past decade working with children in the NYC metropolitan area. Most recently, she taught in a three-year-old classroom at Montclare Children’s School in Manhattan. Katie earned her BA in English Literature from Miami University, and is currently pursuing her Masters of Children’s Literature at Simmons College. She is passionate about instilling a love of reading in children, and loves nothing more than inspiring creativity and imagination to thrive. When Katie is not teaching or reading, she can be found working on various art projects, hosting trivia nights, playing in social sports leagues, exploring the city, and going on adventures.
Kim DeVito, Teaching Staff
Kim is so happy to rejoin the TCEE team after completing her student teaching in a preschool classroom at the Boston Teachers Union School and earning a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from UMass-Boston. She has three years of experience teaching young children and is passionate about early childhood literacy as well as the social and emotional development of young children. In her free time, Kim enjoys music, dance, dining out, and spending time with her husband, Dominick, her two stepsons, and her friends.
Jennifer Loew, Teaching Staff
Jen graduated in 2015 from the University of Delaware where she received her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. She moved back to Massachusetts and worked as a preschool teacher at a local child care center for the past year. Jen loves being a preschool teacher and is passionate about creating a positive learning environment for children. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, going to the beach, and watching movies!
Meg Kennedy, Inclusion Specialist
Meg is a graduate of Brandeis and just finished her master’s in Behavior Analysis at Simmons. She is so excited to come back to her Trust Center families and to work with all of the classrooms. In her spare time, Meg enjoys visiting her family and walking all around Boston and Brookline.
Valerie Rieger, Teaching Staff
Valerie is originally from Argentina and has been living in the US for 17 years. When she’s not at TOS, she a grad student at Northeastern university studying digital media. Her experience includes working at City Year Miami with 9th grade kids. Valerie’s interests include reading, sports, and being outdoors.
Rachel Kleinman, Teaching Staff
Rachel is very excited to be joining the TCEE team this year. She is a recent graduate of Lewis and Clark College in Portland Oregon, but is originally from Southeastern, Ohio. At Lewis and Clark, Rachel worked in the Child Development Lab and was VP of a campus’s Hillel. When she is not working, she enjoys reading young adult fiction, going for walks and hanging in coffee houses. She also loves traveling and international studies and is very interested in how people live all over the world.
Steven McGrath, Teaching Staff
From the time he had siblings, Steve knew that wanted to work with children. With that in mind, he attended Purdue University and received his degree in Behavioral Neuro-Psychology in the spring of 2013. He spent the summers of my undergraduate career working with emotionally disturbed students. He fell in love with the work, but wanted to diversify his work experiences before deciding upon a specialty and graduate program to accompany it. After graduation, Steve spent two years working with students on the Autism Spectrum. It was during this time that he discovered how much he enjoyed working with preschool aged children and that is how he arrived here at the Trust Center.
Debby Kilday, Teaching Staff
Prior to joining the TCEE staff, Debby was a substitute teacher in the Brookline Public Schools. Earlier in her career, she ran her own catering business for many years. Debby lives in Brookline with her husband, has two college-aged children and a dog named Storm. In her free time, she loves to cook, go to the beach and the movies. Debby also takes Storm to a nursing home once a week.