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Our Curriculum and Staff

Our Curriculum

Our integrated curriculum brings together creative play, music and art, Shabbat and holiday celebrations, language, literacy, math and science, all grounded in Jewish values. Play allows the child to develop a positive sense of self and others, to grow as a curious learner, and to successfully negotiate the world around them. We use the Massachusetts Department of Education Frameworks and Standards for Curriculum as the base of our secular curriculum. Our fully integrated Judaic curriculum revolves around the holidays we celebrate together throughout the school year.

Our Staff

We have a team of outstanding classroom teachers for all of our classes.   As early childhood professionals, each one of our teachers has a love of children and expertise in child development.  They work with each child to provide experiences and opportunities that foster curiosity and exploration and develop the child's unique talents.  We recognize that a highly-qualified and well-trained staff are among the primary factors which contribute to an excellent and high-quality educational program.   Ongoing training is a requirement of our Massachusetts licensing agency, and is central to our program.  Our goal is to exceed the minimum number of professional development hours per year.  

debbi_fendell.jpgDebbi Fendell, Director of Early Childhood  Education

Debbi oversees all aspects of the preschool program.  She works closely with the Temple Tots group (for families with young children ages 0-5) at Temple Aliyah, and collaborates closely with the Director of the Religious School to coordinate programming with the Kindergarten and First Grades as a natural transition for children in the preschool to enter into our Mercaz Aliyah religious school.   

Debbi has had an extensive career in the Early Childhood Education field that includes experience teaching as well as directing in various programs, both full day year-round and part day school-year.  She spent 6 years in a local Jewish preschool as the Assistant Director/Director of Admissions and is very familiar with the process of seamlessly integrating the Judaic and secular curricula at the preschool level.   Debbi is passionate about the importance of Early Childhood Education, and looks forward to supporting our well-educated and experienced staff as they create a rich Judaic as well as secular curriculum at Gan Aliyah.  Debbi has three grown children and four young grandchildren.

Debbi can be reached at (781) 444-8522 or by email.

Gabrielle Birnbaum, Preschool Teacher, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Gabby is excited to be a part of the Gan Aliyah team and bring her clinical experience as a licensed social worker into the classroom. She is passionate and dedicated to working with young children and believes in creating a safe and nurturing environment where children feel comfortable to take risks, discover and make connections. Gabby holds both a Master of Social Work and a Bachelor of Science in Applied Psychology from New York University and has several years of experience as a child and family psychotherapist. Gabby grew up in New Jersey and lived in Manhattan before moving to Boston, where she began working as a school based therapist in a Boston Public School.  She places a strong emphasis on social and emotional development and fostering a child-centered learning environment where children are engaged in play based exploration.

 

Stella Kamenetsky, Toddler Teacher, Judaic Specialist  stella_head_shot.jpg

Stella is very excited to be one of our Purple Room toddler teachers at Temple Aliyah this year. She is an enthusiastic and experienced teacher who engages the children in both English and Hebrew. It is her passion to observe children incorporate the knowledge she has given to them in their play and hear them formulate their own interpretations. Stella is truly passionate about Israel and enjoys making it come to life in her work. Stella arrived here in 1999 from Israel, where she completed a four-year program at David Yelin Educational College in Jerusalem, earning a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education. Since then she has worked in Jewish early childhood education, including preschool and Day School settings here as she did in Israel. Stella also teaches at Temple Emanuel on Sundays, with children ages 5-6. She lives in Sharon with her husband Alex, and their two boys Nathaniel (10), and Ben (14).

Opal McDonnell, Lead Teacher, Preschool

Opal is excited to join the Yellow Room teaching team at Gan Aliyah. She comes to us with experience teaching preschool to kindergarten age children. Opal holds a Lead Teacher Preschool certification from our licensing agency, along with an initial license in PreK-2 from the Massachusetts Department of Education. Opal grew up in Brockton and graduated from Brockton High School. She continued to obtain her Bachelors degree in Early Childhood Education from Lesley University. After graduating, Opal went on to teach at a local Jewish Preschool. During that time period, she continued her academic path by enrolling in the Special Education Master’s degree program at Bridgewater State College. Opal believes in fostering a kind, nurturing and independent environment. “Being able to witness and help foster a child's natural curiosity and willingness to learn is a gift.” Opal is married and has two children. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, reading and cooking.

Sara O'Brien, Young Toddlers Teacher  

Sara is very excited to officially become a member of the Gan Aliyah staff this school year! Sara grew up in Westwood, MA, the third born in a family of six.

Having always had a fascination with psychology and development, she realized at a young age that a passion of hers was working with children. In her teen years she found experience by working in the daycare program at Westwood Children’s school, she continued working with children of various ages throughout college spending 3 consecutive summers as a camp counselor at Dedham Health and Athletics Center. Her last 3 years have been spent nannying for a family she has come to consider part of her own, as well as substitute teaching at Gan Aliyah since 2016.  This past summer she began her studies at Becker College - completing her certification for teaching toddlers and preschoolers. Sara strongly believes that children are able to best express themselves when taught with joy, excitement, and compassion.

Tayech Workalemahu, Older Toddlers Lead Teacher, Toddler Coordinator  

Tayech joined our staff in our second year, 2015, as a teacher in the Purple Room. She grew up in Ethiopia and lived in Israel for 12 years. She lives with her 14 year old son Nahum in Newton, which has been their home town for the past 12 years. When she is not in the Purple Room Tayech enjoys being outdoors and spending her free time gardening, cooking, knitting and reading. Tayech can work magic with just about anything creative, and is a knitter without peer, creating original design doll clothes for all of the dolls at the preschool. She has also baked us three challot for our weekly Shabbat celebration, which have been preserved to use over and over to everyone's delight. Tayech loves teaching in the toddler classroom. The rate of their language acquisition at this age always amazes her. She is committed to providing the children in her care with a loving and developmentally sound foundation for a lifetime of learning. Tayech believes that play is a toddler’s most important work, and strives to create and maintain an environment where each child can grow and thrive while exploring the world around them. She also believes that every child should be valued and treated with respect. 

Tayech's prior experience includes 10 years teaching at the JCC and Schechter preschools. She feels fortunate and blessed to be co-teaching alongside our other amazing teachers at Gan Aliyah.

Sunday, July 5 2020 13 Tammuz 5780