Gan Ami Staff and Teachers

Administration

Paula joined Temple Beth Ami as the Early Childhood Director in July 2009. Paula earned a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in “Human Development in Education” and a BS from Cornell University in “Human Development and Family Studies”.  She previously worked as the Early Childhood Specialist and Parenting Educator at the Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning.  Before that, some of her favorite jobs were teaching “Mommy and Me” classes, supervising university student teachers, teaching undergraduate courses in human development, and working for 9 years at a sleep-away camp. Paula was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, but has spent most of her life in Montgomery County, Maryland. Paula lives in Brookeville with her husband, Danny. They have three sons, Jonathan, Eitan, and Eric.

Ellen has been on staff at the preschool since 1993, but actually has been part of the Gan Ami family, as a parent of sons Adam and Marc, since the day it opened it’s doors in 1989. A native of Great Neck, NY, Ellen and her husband Jon, met at University of Pennsylvania and after several years in Chicago, moved back to the east coast and to Montgomery County in 1986. Ellen’s first career was in account management with several large Advertising Agencies. After a few years as a stay at home mom Ellen returned to the work force, but this time she wanted to be close to her children!  First as an assistant for 2 years, and then lead teacher in the Bets for 7 years, Ellen ‘graduated’ to the Dalets as an assistant from 2002 to 2013. Ellen enjoys her role as Special Projects Coordinator assisting the teachers and the school with all communications and documentation, as well as assorted other projects that come her way!

JudiLapidus

Judi Lapidus, OTR/L,  Kesher Coordinator

Judi has been a pediatric occupational therapist since 2004. She graduated from Columbia University’s Programs in Occupational Therapy with a specialization in pediatrics, and developed her foundational skills working with children in a hospital setting and in a sensory integration gym. There she found her true calling to improve the lives of children who suffer from sensory modulation disorder, developmental delay and handwriting issues. Prior to occupational therapy, Judi was the director of a preschool and a preschool teacher for ten years. The blending of education and occupational therapy has afforded Judi the unique ability to understand the complexity of academic needs and the importance of strong sensory processing skills to create the building blocks for success.

Alef Teachers
Adult-Child Programs

LorettaBlue

Loretta Blue
Kofim (Monkeys) & Prachim (Flowers)

Loretta Blue has been teaching preschool since 1998 and has years of experience under her belt. Before joining the staff, she owned and operated Plastercraft, an art studio for children in Rockville. When she joined Gan Ami, she worked her first two years as a teacher in the summer program. She enjoyed it so much that she then became a teacher in the two-year-old program! Loretta has 3 children and 8 grandchildren. Her youngest child is a Gan Ami graduate!

Karen Porter

Karen Porter
Prachim (Flowers)

Karen is a native Washingtonian whose two sons both went to Hebrew school and were Bar Mitzvah at Temple Beth Ami. Working in the medical field for more than 20 years, she was forced to retire due to COVID. Loving children, she wanted to go back to work part time. Karen is married to her husband Doug; both of her sons are happily married as well, and she welcomed her first grandchild in July 2022.

Bet Teachers
2 Year Old

StacyRubinstein

Stacy Rubinstein
Chaverim (Friends)

Stacy returned “home” to work at Gan Ami in the fall of 2018. Stacy was raised in Montgomery County, graduated from Walter Johnson High School and returned post college. After seeing how Gan Ami teachers welcomed her family, she was inspired to become an early childhood educator. She participated in training in 2012-13, and then taught at Washington Hebrew Congregation for 4 years. Her son Jake completed Gan Ami in 2016, and her daughter Maddie in 2018. Now it’s her turn, and she couldn’t be happier! When not in school, you can find Stacy selling packages for a wedding photography company, having silly dance parties with her children, and attending lots of hockey games (Go Caps!).

BeverleeDiamond

Beverlee Diamond
Chaverim (Friends)

Beverlee Diamond, a mother of three Temple Beth Ami Nursery School alums. Beverlee is from Cape Town, South Africa, where she received her degree in Marketing. Beverlee and her husband Shaun immigrated to the United States in 1993.  After spending so much time in the halls of  Temple Beth Ami, she found a special community and a love for educating children.  Beverlee starts every morning with a Peloton class and ends every night watching her youngest daughter, Bianca, play soccer.   Beverlee’s son Cameron works in the family furniture business. Beverlee’s middle child, Tori, is a 2021 graduate from CESJDS and is currently in school in NYC. Judaism  plays a pivotal role in Beverlee’s life and that of her family.

BariHandelman

Bari Handelman
Doobim (Teddy Bears)

Bari has lived and worked in the Greater Washington area for many years. Originally from Connecticut, she earned a degree in education from New York University.  She has always enjoyed working for the Jewish community, first as an Executive Assistant and later as an early childhood teacher.  She has taught parent-child classes, 2 year olds, and enrichment for 3-5 year olds, as well as led tot services for Shabbat and holidays.  She joined the Gan Ami staff in September 2014 as our Parent-Child class expert. She lives in Gaithersburg with her husband, Brian, and two children, Hannah and Max.

GregDerrick

Greg Derrick
Doobim (Teddy Bears) & Kibbutz

Greg has lived in Montgomery county his entire life. His two children, Sara and Matthew, are Gan Ami alumni. As a stay-at-home dad, Greg began with volunteering at school events, then helped with the afternoon enrichment classes, and eventually began substituting in almost all the classes. This inspired him to pursue additional education in the field of Early Childhood Education. Greg completed the Early Childhood Certificate through Montgomery College. After a few years on the Beth Ami staff, Greg was ‘on loan’ for the 2020-2021 school year to Ohr Kodesh ECC. He is very excited to be back as a part of the Gan Ami staff! Greg lives in Germantown with his children and his super awesome, amazing, spectacular wife, Stacy.

NancyYarvin

Nancy Yarvin
Shemashot (Suns)

A former Gan Ami parent of two, Nancy was excited to begin working at Gan Ami in the fall of 2008. She has worked in our school as an assistant in the Ladybug Dalet classroom, lead teacher in the “Bets to Be” and Kangaroo classrooms, part of the Bet Support Team, and the assistant for the Jungle Friends. She was thrilled for her next step as Lead Teacher  in a Dalet class for four years. Nancy is thrilled to return to a Bet class and introduce some of our youngest students to Gan Ami.  Nancy spent many years working as a pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist. She loves incorporating her vast experience and knowledge of early childhood speech and language development into the classroom.

Dina Sharnoff

Dina Sharnoff
Shemashot (Suns) 

Dina grew up in Montgomery County and graduated from University of Maryland. After college, Dina taught in MCPS for 8 years, both Kindergarten and First grade. Dina and her husband Michael welcomed their daughter Simona in 2017 and son Danny in 2019. Simona graduated from Gan Ami in 2021 and Danny will be a Gimel this year. Dina is very excited to be back in the classroom to help children blossom and nurture their creativity and intellectual growth. In her spare time, you will see Dina taking her kids to activities, doing jazzercise, and spending time with friends and family.

Gimel Teachers
3 Year Old

SusanChirumbole

Susan Chirumbole
Megallim (Explorers)

Susan is originally from New York. She graduated from the University of Maryland and shortly thereafter met her husband Stephen. They have two daughters, Dana, Alyse, and one son, Ryan, who graduated from Gan Ami. Susan joined the Gan Ami staff in September 1999. She has worked with Bets and Gimels. Susan enjoys learning, teaching and sharing Jewish experiences with our youngest students. When not at school, she spends time with family and friends and loves to travel.

Chris Mullett 2

Chris Mullett
Megallim (Explorers)

Chris Mullett was born in Montana and wandered around the world as the daughter of a military father. She attended 8 schools in 13 years. One of her favorite places to visit when she lived in Germany was Austria to see the giant chessboard! She settled in the Washington area in 1991. She volunteers for Habitat with Humanity, and loves Scrabble, crosswords, and Sudoku. She started volunteering at Gan Ami in 2000 and joined the staff in 2003. Chris loves the camaraderie among the teachers as much as she loves working with the children.

LaurieGalfond

Laurie Galfond
Mensches (Mensches!)

Laurie started as a parent at Gan Ami in 1989 when her son Phil was a 4 year old, and Jeff was a mid-year 2 year old. Over the next several years, Laurie alternated between being a substitute, a 2-day 2’s teacher, and for one year, a stay at home mom with Jeff and Emily. But the lure was too great, and Laurie returned to teaching soon after her daughter was born. All three of Laurie’s children are Gan Ami grads!   Laurie says, “Working with children is clearly the primary reason I have stayed at Gan Ami for as long as I have, but a close second is the staff. We are a family that thoroughly enjoys being together.” Laurie has always lived in the DC area except for 3 years in Palo Alto, California. Laurie attended Winston Churchill High School and graduated from the University of Maryland.

BethJolles 2

Beth Jolles
Mensches (Mensches!)

Beth graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in Early Childhood Education and Family Studies. Before coming to Gan Ami, Beth taught pre-school at CLC and various parent/toddler classes throughout the county. She enjoys time with her two daughters, exercise, 70’s music, sushi, and jelly beans. Beth lives in North Potomac with her husband Jim

JodyRosenblum

Jody Rosenblum
Parparim (Butterflies)

Jody was born in New York, moved to Montgomery County in 1973, and eventually graduated from the University of Maryland with a fine arts degree. She became a member of Temple Beth Ami in 1982. She knew she wanted to become a Gan Ami teacher when her son Sam attended Gan Ami from the day it opened in 1989. She said, “I saw a top notch nursery school run by a director and small group of professional and excited teachers.” She waited four years for an opening and was so excited to begin teaching in 1993. She has always taught five day Gimels, and finds it a joy to come to work each day. When Jody is not working she is busy playing Mah Jongg, attending book club, participating in TBA events, supporting her Condo Association, and most enjoyably, playing with her granddaughters.

Morgan Leiter

Morgan Leiter
Parparim (Butterflies) & Kibbutz

Morgan was born and raised in the Washingtonian area and loved it so much she stayed! She now resides in Rockville with her husband and two children. She joined the Gan Ami staff in 2023 when her daughter had just graduated from our program and her son was entering the Dalets. Since enrolling her children in Gan Ami, Morgan has been extremely involved in the Parent Committee and gets pleasure from building our community and bringing everyone together. She graduated from the University of Hartford with a BS in Psychology focused on early childhood development. Her strengths are connecting people, working with children to reach their potential, and supporting everyone in her presence.

Dalet Teachers
4 Year Old

IrwinSlonin

Irwin Slonin
Keshatot (Rainbows)

Irwin has lived in the Rockville area nearly his entire life. A graduate of the University of Maryland and George Washington University, he left his “professional” career in business to become an at-home dad. While helping out in his daughters’ preschool, he discovered his passion for working with children in a Jewish early childhood setting. Since 1999, he has worked with children at Children’s Learning Center, Har Shalom, and Shaare Torah. Irwin joined Gan Ami in 2016 as the Keshatot teacher. He also teaches religious school and tutors b’nai mitzvah students. Irwin and his wife, Sue-Anne, have three daughters.

Randi Kay

Randi Kay
Keshatot (Rainbows)

Randi’s educational background includes a degree in Secondary Education and Biology from Monmouth College in New Jersey, where she is originally from. She has 3 adult children and 4 grandchildren, two of which graduated from Gan Ami and are currently attending Machane for Hebrew School. Randi loves working as an assistant teacher and has been in the field for over 25 years. When Randi is not working with children, she enjoys making hand crafted jewelry!

LeelaGreenblott

Leela Greenblott
Kochavim (Stars)

 

As a native New Englander, Leela moved to the Mid-Atlantic area after graduating from University of Rhode Island. She has been teaching preschool since 2000. She has taught at Children’s Learning Center, Washington Hebrew Congregation and now is really excited to be teaching a Dalet class at Gan Ami. Leela’s first introduction to Gan Ami was in a Gimel class during the Gan Ami Summer program in 2021.  Leela lives in North Potomac with her husband and dog Sadie. Her two grown children are spread out in Arlington, Va., and Boulder Colorado. In her spare time, she loves to garden and play frisbee with Sadie.

StephanieFleischer

Stephanie Fleischer
Kochavim (Stars)

Stephanie has resided in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC her entire life (her parents also still live in the area). She lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland with her husband, Ian, along with their two children, Carly and Daniel, and two cats Coffee and Bean.  She enjoys the beach and traveling (having family in Germany, Italy and Israel).  Stephanie’s children both attended Kehilat Shalom where she held various teaching positions over five years.  Prior to teaching at Gan Ami, she spent two years with the 2’s class at B’nai Tzedek in Potomac.  Stephanie was thrilled to continue her passion for teaching children when she joined the Temple Beth Ami Nursery School staff in 2014.

Kibbutz Teachers
2 – 4 Year Olds in the Before, After, and Extended Day Programs

Morgan Leiter

Morgan Leiter
Parparim (Butterflies) & Kibbutz

Morgan was born and raised in the Washingtonian area and loved it so much she stayed! She now resides in Rockville with her husband and two children. She joined the Gan Ami staff in 2023 when her daughter had just graduated from our program and her son was entering the Dalets. Since enrolling her children in Gan Ami, Morgan has been extremely involved in the Parent Committee and gets pleasure from building our community and bringing everyone together. She graduated from the University of Hartford with a BS in Psychology focused on early childhood development. Her strengths are connecting people, working with children to reach their potential, and supporting everyone in her presence.

GregDerrick

Greg Derrick
Doobim (Teddy Bears) & Kibbutz

Greg has lived in Montgomery county his entire life. His two children, Sara and Matthew, are Gan Ami alumni. As a stay-at-home dad, Greg began with volunteering at school events, then helped with the afternoon enrichment classes, and eventually began substituting in almost all the classes. This inspired him to pursue additional education in the field of Early Childhood Education. Greg completed the Early Childhood Certificate through Montgomery College. After a few years on the Beth Ami staff, Greg was ‘on loan’ for the 2020-2021 school year to Ohr Kodesh ECC. He is very excited to be back as a part of the Gan Ami staff! Greg lives in Germantown with his children and his super awesome, amazing, spectacular wife, Stacy.