Meet Our Teachers
“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.
Sarah has been working with children for many years, before joining the Mandel JCC team in 2018. In the past, Sarah has both worked with children at camps such as Camp Stone, and as a classroom assistant at Fuchs Mizrachi. Sarah enjoys bringing her love of reading and scientific exploration into the classroom.
Sarah has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Vassar College and a graduate degree from Cardiff University. She believes that a safe learning community that supports individuality is key to helping children grow into their best selves. Sarah lives in Shaker Heights with her mother Leslie, brother Lucas, and dog Baxter.
In her free time, Sarah enjoys taking long walks in the park on Saturday afternoons.
Having been a student at The J herself, Nikki feels fortunate to now be a teacher in The J’s early childhood program. Nikki has always had a passion for helping young children develop the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life. Earning her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from the University of Cincinnati (UC) was a rewarding experience that only heightened her love of teaching and caring for children. Nikki also had the opportunity to study fine arts at UC. She uses her arts background to try and incorporate art into her teaching whenever possible.
Nikki believes that young children learn from exploring their environment and the meaningful experiences that emerge from that exploration provide many teachable moments. Nikki understands that children learn best when topics are related to their personal interests and presented in a fun and stimulating manner.
In her spare time, Nikki enjoys painting, gardening, building furniture, and camping with her family. She lives in Mayfield Heights with her two-year-old son and their pet cat. Due to Nikki’s positive experience at The J, she really hopes that one day her son will attend preschool here as well. This will be Nikki’s fifth year teaching; she is very excited to see what this year has in store.
Knowing first hand how important an exceptional preschool experience can be, Lindsay is excited to be teaching at The J. Lindsay is very familiar with our conscious discipline philosophy and believes learning and using techniques on how to manage emotions in children have lifelong benefits. Lindsay is very grateful to be a part of our school family and believes every day is an opportunity to learn and grow.
Rebekah’s warmth, comfort and ease with young children are evident as soon as you meet her. Rebekah began teaching at The J in 2014.
Rebekah’s love of working with young children carried over with her as she moved with her family from Tucson, Arizona (where she worked as a camp director) to Beachwood. “One of my biggest passions in life is being in a classroom with young children where I can support, nurture and influence their positive growth,” Rebekah said. “I’m equally passionate about developing meaningful relationships with parents – we’re partners working towards a common goal to do what’s best for their children. The J is the perfect place for me to do this – the environment truly feels like a “home away from home.”
In addition to teaching, Rebekah is currently completing her degree in Early Childhood Education.
Bobbie has worked with children throughout her career. As a lifelong Clevelander, the Mandel JCC has played an important role in her life. In the past, she has worked at The J doing community outreach and program development. In addition, all three of her children have attended school and camp programs at The J. When Bobbie returned to The J to teach preschool, she felt that she was right where she was supposed to be.
Bobbie looks forward to spending every day in the classroom. She feels that when she helps children explore the world she is able to see things from a new point of view.
Liz Korah was born in India and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Following undergraduate school, Liz moved to Chicago to complete her Masters in Elementary Education at DePaul University.
She currently lives in Beachwood with her husband, their three children, and a crazy dog named Coco. Liz was a stay-at-home mom for 10 years until her youngest child started kindergarten. Liz loves to travel and has been to Europe, Mexico, Canada, India, Dubai and many of the states in the United States, with Hawaii and Switzerland being her favorite places. She hopes to visit Australia and South Africa one day.
Liz likes learning about other cultures, meeting new people and trying new foods and restaurants. She also enjoys going to CAVS games and seeing both Broadway and comedy shows.
The curiosity of learning is what draws Liz to work with preschool children. She loves seeing their enthusiasm and excitement for the smallest things, such as learning a new song, doing an art project or playing with a toy. She feels play is critical in developing children’s language and cognitive skills. Liz believes that a smile, good eye contact and the simplest communication can go a long way to making a child feel safe. She looks forward to working with your children and getting to know their stories and unique personalities.
India is the mother of three sons ranging from middle school through high school. India loves music, singing and storytelling.
Before joining the staff at The J, India was very active in her community of Cleveland Heights, volunteering her time with the P.T.A. at Roxboro Elementary School. What started off as volunteering a few days a week tutoring K-3rd graders, quickly grew into a Chair position. For the next three years, India recruited other parents to give their time in the classroom as well.
India is a founding member of the small but effective parent group Building Rox, recently renamed Building Heights. Their mission is focused on raising funds and providing opportunities at little or no cost for children in the community and CHUH school district. The jewel of this endeavor is the Heights Performing Arts Camp. The camp works in partnership with Ensemble Theatre to provide a free, three-week camp for CHUH students in the 5th and 6th grade. Participants write, stage and perform their plays at Cain Parks Alma Theatre. India also helps to manage a small clothing pantry located in Roxboro Elementary School.
India is eager to share her love of community and service with her students!
Talya is excited to join The J’s Early Childhood Team. Talya graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Inclusive Elementary and Special Education and most recently, returned from a year-long program in Israel where she taught English to Hebrew-speaking children. Talya has worked for the Jewish Federation of Cleveland in its Public Education Initiative where she managed reading tutors in eight different Cleveland City Schools.
Talya’s love for children began at an early age. She grew up in a close-knit family where living Jewish values and sustaining meaningful Jewish practices and traditions positively influenced and shaped the person she is today.
Talya is excited about facilitating a dynamic classroom experience where all children thrive. “Every day in the classroom is a new adventure – an opportunity for children and teachers alike to grow. It’s a two-way street – my students learn as much from me I learn from them,” she said.
Alex is delighted to be a part of The J’s Early Childhood team of educators. “The moment I entered The J, I had a wonderful feeling,” said Alex. The more I learned about the school philosophy, culture and the quality of program I knew for certain that The J and I would be the perfect fit!” Alex is the oldest of three children and carries strong family values. It comes as no surprise that our culture of “School Family” resonates so strongly with her.
Alex received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from John Carroll University and has spent a good part of her life working both formally and informally with children. Alex’s professional work includes in-home child care, working with children in a residential setting as well as tutoring local inner city youth. In every role, Alex helps all children become their best self.
In her spare time, Alex enjoys reading, listening to music, and spending time with family, friends and her beloved cat!
Sarah recently graduated from Notre Dame College in South Euclid, Ohio with a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education Pre-K through 3rd grade and Mild/Moderate Intervention Specialist from Kindergarten through grade 12. She believes that every student has the ability to learn, but not all students learn in the same way. Sarah provides her students with visual, auditory, and kinesthetic ways of learning to meet all of their needs. She guides every child to reach their fullest potential, intellectually and emotionally, by focusing on a play-based approach with teacher-led and hands-on activities. Sarah’s ideal classroom is play-based, warm, safe, clean, organized, creative and inviting.
Sarah lives in South Euclid with her husky, Princess Leia. She is currently a soccer coach at Beachwood Middle School - Go Bisons! When Sarah is not out on the field, you can find her at the dog park. She is very active and has played many sports throughout life. Sarah played rugby for Notre Dame College where she brought home two national titles with her team.
Jill has been teaching at the J since 2008 and enjoys watching her young students grow. Offering them guidance, support and encouragement is second nature to her. “It’s about building trust and connections with both parents and children,” she said. “We want parents to feel comfortable and secure in knowing that their children are receiving exceptional care while they are away from home. We all take our work seriously – and we love coming to work each day!”
Jill considers The J her “home away from home. ” It’s the exact feeling I want children to have when they come here each day,” she said.
Jill enjoys taking long walks and caring for animals. She lives in Beachwood with her son and dog Henry.