Preschool: Madie Kerch
Originally from Highland Park, Illinois, Maddie came to Minneapolis for college at the University of Minnesota. She graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in psychology with a focus in neuroscience. She started college being interested in research and brain development, but left with a wide range of interests and an internship that led to teaching. Maddie worked as tutoring coordinator and assistant pre-k teacher at Prodeo Academy, a charter school in North Minneapolis, before starting at Bet Shalom Yeladim.
Maddie has worked with kids for 12 years starting with babysitting neighbors and younger brother, to becoming a camp counselor, youth mentor, literacy tutor, and finally pre-kindergarten teacher before falling in love with toddlers! She has always enjoyed taking care of others and loves using play to assist in the learning and growth that happens so quickly in young children.
This year Maddie will be teaching in the Sagol classroom in the preschool during the week, and will also be starting as the preschool/pre-k religious school teacher on Sundays.
Outside of school, Maddie can be found lesson planning for future classroom fun, trying different restaurants and cafes around Minneapolis, and taking dance and fitness classes!
Kindergarten: Jackie Weichman
Jackie was born and raised in the Twin Cities and then ventured off to The University of Kansas for college (Rock Chalk!). Upon graduation, she taught third grade for 8 years in the Overland Park, KS area and absolutely loved every minute of it. Whether it was being a camp counselor, Sunday school teacher, or youth group leader, Judaism and kids have always been a big part of her life.
She is a proud wife and stay-at-home-mom! Her daughter Riley is starting third grade and her 5 year old son, Logan, is starting Kindergarten. In addition to teaching Religious school, Jackie has also been tutoring this past year. She really enjoys working one-on-one with children and making a significant impact in the progress of their education. Besides spending quality time with her family, she enjoys listening to music, socializing with friends, cheering on the Jayhawks during basketball season, and traveling. This past summer, her family enjoyed spending lots of quality time on the lake with their newest member of the family… their speedboat named (none other than) “The Jayhawker!”
She looks forward to meeting you and your child soon (even if virtually for now) and values open-communication. Please feel free to contact her at anytime with any questions or concerns you might have about your child’s education.
She looks forward to meeting you and your child soon and values open-communication. Please feel free to contact her at anytime with any questions or concerns you might have about your child’s education.
First Grade: Stacey Edlavitch
Stacey is very excited to teach 1st grade this year at Bet Shalom. Stacey, her husband and two children, moved to the Twin Cities from Chicago in 2015. She has a Bachelor of Science in Special Education from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and a Master of Education in Special Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Since 2003, Stacey has taught Special Education to high school, middle school and elementary students.
Building self-confidence in children is one of Stacey’s passions and she believes the dramatic arts and creative movement assists with this. She thinks these skills help create a strength that will mold the child in their future endeavors.
In her spare time, Stacey and her family enjoy camping, fishing, going to the zoo, exploring the Science Museum, and attending theater (The Guthrie and The Children’s Theater). Stacey can also be found walking around the lakes with friends, reading the next book for book club and cooking for family and friends.
Second Grade: Mark Price
Mark was born in New York City and lived for 17 years in Stamford, Connecticut. He graduated from Haverford College with a double degree in English and Spanish, and then got his MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School. When not working as a Solution Partner for Smart Data for ThreeBridge Solutions, a consulting firm, Mark is an avid Crossfitter, plays and follows tennis, is passionate about Liverpool in the English Premier League and obsesses about Really Big Dogs (RBD’s) . He is also a storyteller and brings that skill to frequent use in the classroom.
Mark has been teaching religious school at Bet Shalom for the past 17 years. While traditionally teaching second grade, Mark has also taught first grade, seventh grade and post-confirmation. He has been trained in Responsive Classroom, All Kinds of Minds, and Teach Like a Champion approaches.
Third Grade: Heidi Roston
Heidi grew up in Crystal, Minnesota and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota. Throughout her life, she has dedicated a lot of her time teaching children. She has worked with toddlers in preschool, school age children in public school and just after college, she worked in the hospitals taking newborn baby portraits. Besides working as an infant teacher at Shalom Yeladim, she teaches third grade and is a Bar/Bar Mitzvah tutor in the Bet Shalom Religious School. She believes that some of the most important skills to have when working with children is patience, flexibility, and love. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, spending time with her family, and reading.
Fourth Grade: Kelsey Toetschinger
Fifth Grade: Julie Friedman
Julie Friedman has always been passionate about facilitating others in Jewish understanding and helping youth connect to their Jewish identity. From her years as a teen counselor at her synagogue’s day camp in Illinois to working as a youth advisor at Siegel JCC in Delaware, she feels like she is always drawn back to her roots in Judaism. While teaching middle school science in New Jersey, she spent her free time involved with her synagogue, leading Pray and Play (their monthly preschool Shabbat program) and teaching second grade religious school classes.
Julie is excited to begin her third year teaching religious school at Bet Shalom. Julie and her family relocated to Minnesota in 2018 and are excited to be part of such a welcoming community at Bet Shalom.
When Julie is not teaching at religious school, you can find her cooking, playing in her garden, or having a fun time with her family.
Seventh Grade: Julia Roston
Julia, as of this past school year, graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Music Therapy. This will be her first year teaching at Bet Shalom although she has grown up at the synagogue, attending religious school through confirmation. She has worked with kids in many different ways beginning as a madricha at Bet Shalom. She went on to be a counselor, the music specialist, and the specialist director at Camp Olami at the Sabes JCC. She is excited to teach 7th grade and is looking forward to virtually meeting all of her students!
Seventh Grade and Hebrew and B’nai Mitzvah Cohort: Suzy Lurie
Suzy Lurie is excited to begin her fourth year as a Religious School teacher. After growing up in Highland Park, Illinois and earning both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music from Northwestern University, Suzy lived all over the country with her opera-singing husband and had plenty of adventures. Becoming a mom and landing back in the Midwest has turned out to the best adventure of all! Suzy is glad to have found such a wonderful community at Bet Shalom and considers teaching Religious School to be the best job ever! Outside of work, she loves to hang out with her husband, Matt, and explore new places with her kids, Riley (7) and Brooklynn (4).
Eighth Grade: Kelsey Toetschinger
Ninth Grade: Rachel Calvert
Rachel Calvert is starting her second year as a teacher at Bet Shalom Congregation. Rachel also works for Bet Shalom as Assistant to the Cantor and Executive Director, and has been an office staff at Bet Shalom for three years. Rachel grew up at Bet Shalom, and enjoys teaching at the same religious school she attended as a youngster. A graduate of Hopkins High School, Rachel went on to study English, Education, and Spanish at Lawrence University in Appleton, WI. Rachel is a musician who performs with the band Barbaro as a fiddler and vocalist. When she is not working, performing, or practicing, she enjoys spending time with her Chihuahua named Bambi.
Chugim: Gayle Kaplan
Gayle has taken on a new position this year, as both the coordinator for the revised Hebrew language program and the coordinator for school twinning. (Bet Shalom is in our second year of twinning with Navon, an elementary school in Rehovot Israel.) For the past 11 years, she has taught Hebrew, Torah, holidays, and Jewish history, among other subjects, to students in the 4th, 5th and 6th grades.
Gayle grew up in the Boston metro and graduated from Brown University with a BA in psychology. She later received a MBA from Northwestern University and worked in Chicago for several years before moving to Minneapolis almost 30 years ago. Gayle worked in market research on both the vendor and client sides, focusing on customer loyalty. After leaving the business world, she taught business skills to immigrants at the Minnesota Resource Center. Gayle has loved the opportunity to teach at Bet Shalom’s Religious School where she can focus on her passion for all things Jewish.
Gayle serves on two Minneapolis Jewish Federation committees: The Education Committee, and Partnership2Gether, which deals with Minneapolis and our twin city Rehovot, Israel. She is also a volunteer guardian ad litem for Hennepin County.
Gayle is married with one son. She enjoys walking her dogs, reading and planting her new butterfly garden (in progress). She also loves to travel, especially to Israel.
Hebrew: Jessica Koolick
Geri grew up in the Twin Cities, and then moved to Madison to attend college at UW, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology. Geri taught in Madison public schools for many years, as well as at the Madison Jewish Day School and local religious schools.
Geri moved back to MN in 2015 to be closer to her extended family. She currently lives in Plymouth with her wife and three-year-old daughter.
Geri works in customer service at Kar-Ben Publishing, the largest publisher of exclusively Jewish-themed children’s books. Outside of work, Geri enjoys children’s literature, music, theater, and spending time with her family. This will be her 3rd year teaching at Religious School at Bet Shalom.
Music Specialist: Shana Eisenberg