Meet Our Teachers
Liza has been in the field of Early Care and Education for more than seven years and serves as the Interim Director of Early Childhood services.
She understands the importance of creating a warm and welcoming classroom environment for children and adults alike.
Liza graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor degree in Human Development and Family Science. She obtained her Master’s degree in Jewish Education from Siegal College of Judaic Studies. Liza also completed JECELI (Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute,) a two-year postgraduate program specifically designed to prepare talented teachers for Early Childhood leadership roles.
Kathy has worked in the Early Childhood department at The J since 2009. Throughout her career she has been employed with American Greetings and Mayfield City Schools but considers her work here at The J the most enjoyable. She loves seeing the preschool children every day and feels very lucky to be working with a great group of teachers.
Mayfield Heights is home to Kathy where she lives with her husband. They have two daughters, Ashley, who teaches at Roxboro Middle School in Cleveland Hts., and Lindsay who works with Holocaust survivors at Jewish Family Service Association. Ashley along with her husband, Ted, are parents of granddaughter, Lia, who will one day be a graduate of The J’s preschool program as is Ashley and Lindsay!
Kathy enjoys spending time with family, gardening, traveling and reading.
Char has been teaching preschool at The J since 2008. She sees her teaching role as an opportunity to support and develop each child’s inborn curiosity and innate potential. Char’s personal passion for inquiry and discovery has been a guiding force in her own life – all of this is reflected in Char’s classroom which is immersed in nature and offers a variety of provocations to inspire creative exploration. Char’s background as an artist sets the foundation for her creative approach to working with children. Char conveys a message of respect for all children and their competency as meaningful learners – under her care, children are actively engaged, regularly inspired, and thoughtfully guided to build strong foundational skills.
Char lives in Moreland Hills with her husband Chris. Together they have four children. She also lives with a revolving menagerie of pets! Char is currently completing her Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education from The University of Cincinnati as a long-distance learner. In her free time, Char enjoys gardening, cooking and most of all, pottery.
Lynne’s tenure in the field of early care and education is long and extensive - she has been teaching preschool at The J since 1993. “I feel so fortunate to provide young children with both guidance and support during these formative years,” Lynne said. “Preparing children for life, not just future schooling, drives my professional passion. I approach each school year with great anticipation and excitement for what will unfold.”
Lynne’s interest in the arts (of all kinds) permeates throughout her classroom. Each year she introduces her students to Eric Carle – a famous children’s author/illustrator. The children study his literature – and also practice the technique he used for illustrating his work. Not long after, colorful creatures flank the classroom walls with the children’s own unique creations!
In her spare time, Lynne enjoys gardening, knitting, reading and spending time with friends and family. Lynne and her husband Irv live in Beachwood. They are the proud parents of three grown children (and a daughter-in-law) – all three Berliner children are graduates of the Mandel JCC preschool program.
Shanna has been teaching at The J since 2013. Her effusive and effervescent smile reflects the energy and passion she feels for teaching. “Influencing young children is an enormous responsibility – it raises my conscious thinking and behavior to a whole new level,” said Shanna. “It’s much more than being an appropriate role model – it’s about elevating children to see the best in themselves and others. These young children will be tomorrow’s leaders – it’s our obligation to support and develop their learning domains and potential as human beings.”
Shanna’s passion for personal growth and self-expression informs the way she interacts with her students. “I always look for the best in each child, regardless of the challenge at hand,” she said. “Challenges are new opportunities to grow and improve – an attitude she maintains for herself and children alike.”
Before teaching at The J, Shanna worked professionally as a nanny, preschool teacher and movement specialist. Shanna plays sports, dances, and practices Yoga.
“The J’s Early Childhood Center has such a warm, nurturing environment. Children are respected as individuals and encouraged to grow each in his or her own unique way,” Alex said. Alex also understands the importance of building positive rapport with parents. “I want parents to know that their child is not just safe in my care – but also appreciated, valued and honored for who they are,” she said. “Seeing the world through a child’s eyes gives teaching such a new and refreshing perspective – I love how children shed light on the simple things in life.”
Alex comes to The J as a seasoned educator. Over her career Alex has worked in both public and private educational settings, as well as special education and has taught English as a second language.
Alex graduated from John Carroll University with a degree in Early Childhood Education. She received her Master’s in Special Education from Ursuline University.
Holly holds a degree in Early Childhood Education and has been teaching at The J since 1992 – the majority of these years have been spent in a classroom teaching three-year-olds. “Helping children cultivate a love of learning and develop a strong connection to our classroom community is one of the most rewarding aspects of my work,” Holly said. “Our program responds to what is really important in Early Childhood education – building trusting relationships, supporting childrens’ ability to understand and regulate their feelings, cultivating childrens’ innate curiosity and preserving childrens’ right to a healthy childhood. All of this, plus more, creates bright, inquisitive and successful learners! The start of the school is a new beginning for teachers and children alike it’s my favorite time of year!”
Holly’s connections to The J run deep. Her three adult children attended preschool at The J. Both of Holly’s daughters met their husbands at Camp Wise – The J’s overnight camp; Holly and her husband Doug, who are empty nesters, enjoy yoga classes at The J!
Lianna is a graduate of Knox College in Galesburg, IL with a BA. She currently lives in Cleveland Heights
Joni Giterman has been teaching at The J since 2003 and feels very fortunate to be working with a committed group of educators at a top notch preschool. “My goal is to instill in children a love of learning and a love of school,” Joni said. “I find it extremely gratifying to help young children navigate new social and academic experiences. Pre-K children are so competent. I enjoy supporting their growth mastery.”
Joni holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ohio University and lives in Solon with her husband. All three of their children are graduates of the Mandel JCC preschool program. In her spare time, Joni enjoys being with her family, roaming arts and cultural events, traveling, reading and baking.
Inessa began her career at The J in 1988, first at the Mayfield JCC, followed by the Solon JCC and finally here at The J since 2007.
Inessa was born in Russia and earned a degree in Economics before immigrating to the United States. Although the move prompted Inessa to change her professional direction, her passion remained the same. “I was always fascinated by young children,” Inessa said. It is such a delight to watch their development progress in such a very short time. The world is a wondrous place for them to explore. While I encourage my young students to take flight, I also offer them a soft place to land.” Despite Inessa’s tenure in the field, each new class presents rich and diversified learning – not just for the children, but for her too.
Inessa and her husband Jeff live in Solon – their two grown children live out-of-state. In her spare time, Inessa enjoys museums, art, theater, classical music and playing the piano – but most of all, she enjoys spending time with her grandson Ethan!
Jackie has been working at The J since 2011. Jackie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Akron University in Child and Family Development. “I chose the field of Early Care and Education because I’m passionate about children and I recognize the life-long impact teachers can have on their young students and their families,” Jackie said. “I also know that brain growth is occurring so rapidly during these early years. My goal is to help children develop strong social and emotional skills – a necessity for school success, and help them cultivate a strong love of learning!”
Jackie has been a classroom teacher of toddlers, three and four-year-olds. “Teaching children of different ages has helped to expand my developmental framework and understanding. I love attuning to the unique qualities and dispositions of each age group,” said Jackie.
Jackie grew up in Solon, and currently lives in Twinsburg. “Although the end of the summer comes all too quickly, I can’t wait for school to begin – forming new relationships with children and families rejuvenates my spirit and energy each year!”